Some concerned that new policy will put staff in danger at IPS

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis Public Schools policy changes will allow staff members to use what the district calls “limited force” in the event of a student fight. It’s expected to go into effect next school year.

But what does limited force mean? That’s the concern of many. IPS officials said the policy was written broadly and they’ll work on defining it over the summer. They said it would protect both students and staff, however, not everyone is so sure.

Last semester, Will Jackson worked for IPS.

“I’m 5’8″, 5’9″ on a good day (and) 200 pounds. What am I going to do to a 6’5″, 300 pound, high school senior trying to impose limited force on him? His limited force is going to knock me down,” said Jackson.

Jackson was a behavioral adjustment facilitator. He worked with kids who were on in-school suspension, and often was responsible for diffusing fights.

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“One student punched me. I had been kicked. I’ve been bit,” said Jackson.

Jackson is concerned after IPS voted in favor of a new policy Thursday night that would allow staff to use limited force in the event of a fight between students. The policy comes after a fight at Northwest High School made its way online. It shows a male student beating a female student.

The video also shows a teacher standing by, yelling for the kids to break up the fight. Some criticized the teacher for not stepping in. Jackson felt the teacher’s actions were justified.

“That teacher could’ve been hurt. Some of the students filming sitting back laughing could’ve been jumped in on that teacher and that teacher could’ve been jumped by the students,” said Jackson.

But those in favor of the policy said the new plan would offer protection in situations like this.

“You’ll find a lot of school corporations have similar language, and again, the intent is to protect staff and also students,” said IPS Superintendent Dr. Lewis Ferebee.

Without clearer language, many wonder how the policy will offer protection.

“Limited force to you might be one thing. To me it might be something different. So, I feel like it should be defined more before you pass a policy,” said Jackson.

Jackson is also concerned that teachers might abuse the policy as well, perhaps by using too much force.

The district said it will involve the public, teachers and staff as well as the teacher’s union when drafting the specifics of the policy.