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School districts help students, teachers make sense of Derek Chauvin conviction

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Two Marion County schools are providing resources to students and teachers to help them create positive conversations after Derek Chauvin was found guilty in the murder of George Floyd.

“Our staff members are prepared,” said Pat Payne, director of the Indianapolis Public Schools racial equity office. “Some still in the process of, but many are prepared to hold these conversations.”

According to Payne, some students raised questions about shootings across the country and had other queries. “They are asking questions about why they have to be getting survival skill conversations from their parents that maybe white students don’t have to get.”

To help create positive conversations, Superintendent Aleesia Johnson on Tuesday provided a list of resources to all schools and a letter.

“Today’s verdict she says — and I’m talking about Superintendent Alessia Johnson — will not bring George Floyd back or change the horrific way that his life ended, but it does represent accountability,” Payne said.

Payne says each IPS school has an equity team to make sure teachers feel comfortable in these kinds of conversations. They’re also providing racial equity training.

“We feel pretty good about the fact that we should be light years ahead of other districts,” Payne said.

At Washington Township Schools in northern Marion County, where about 30% of students are Black, teachers are making sure they’re providing safe spaces for students to raise their concerns. “For enriched dialogues about humanity, about understanding how we see each other, how to be an advocate, how to be an ally,” said Erica Buchanan-Rivera, director of equity and inclusion for Washington Township Schools.

The Washington Township district has an equity leadership team with resources for families. On Wednesday, the district also sent out a communication to all families about its response to social injustices.