IPS school board approves racial equity policy, Black Lives Matter resolution

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) Board of School Commissioners approved a new racial equity policy Thursday to address the district’s efforts to curtail racism and biases, and the negative effects they have on the school community. Board members unanimously approved the policy.

A policy like this has been in Superintendent Aleesia Johnson’s plan since she was hired last year. Board President Michael O’Connor said with all the racial injustice and unrest the world is seeing, now is the time for IPS to make serious moves.

“As in any organization, where you spend your money is telling the world what are your priorities. So we have to make sure we are spending our money on equity efforts, spending our money as I said on our children that are the most needy,” said O’Connor.

The policy also eliminates expulsions in schools, an area black students make up the largest number, according to IPS.

“I’m a black woman and when I look at the data and we can see across the district and our city and country that black students aren’t performing well, that’s problematic,” said Johnson.

The board also approved the Black Lives Matter resolution that details “the city, state and country’s history of systemic racism, but also the pervasive remnants of racial exclusion and the barriers to universal success.”

  • Click here to read the full Racial Equity Mindset, Commitment & Action policy  
  • Click here to read the Black Lives Matters resolution 

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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A plan to approve a racial equity policy for Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) will fall on board members. The purpose of the policy is to improve inequities, bias and racist structures in the education system. The school district has a diverse student body, so school commissioner Venita Moore said a policy like this is necessary and she’s hopeful it will go through.

IPS is the largest district in the state. And district representatives are hoping to implement a racial equity policy in the middle and high schools. In part it’ll advocated for legislation that addresses topics like poverty, homelessness and food insecurity.

“I believe every one of the commissioners are in agreement these things must happen and these changes must occur in order for us to be able to continue to serve our children in a quality manner,” said Moore.

A plan to improve equity in the district has been in the works since current superintendent Aleesia Johnson took office.

Board members, principals and teachers started racial equity training several years back. However, considering the conversations surrounding race and inequality happening across the country, district representatives said it turns out to be an ideal time to try to roll this out.

“We need to change the mindset of people and help make sure that our young people are respectful and understand how to speak for themselves and speak up and speak boldly and loudly,” said Moore.

Seventy-three percent of the district student population is Black or Hispanic. And they account for 79% of in-school suspension, 84% of out-of-school suspensions and 86% of expulsions, according to IPS.

“As you know most of our urban schools a lot of our teachers are female and they are white,” said Moore. “So they tend to be a little afraid of our children.”

About 26% of the staff in the district are considered people of color.

The racial equity policy, if approved, would come in the form of a curriculum. And district leaders said it’ll be a cultural change for the district and students.

Separate from the racial equity vote, the commissioner is in talks with the superintendent to roll out a plan that will help educate students on their civil rights and how to advocate for themselves in and out of the classroom.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. Thursday in the boardroom at IPS headquarters. The meeting is open to the public but there is a limit of 50 people allowed. A live stream of the meeting will also be available online.