Teachers, community members and parents gathered at a public event Monday night to discuss what they want out of the next superintendent for Indianapolis Public Schools.
Former superintendent Lewis Ferebee left IPS late last year to lead Washington D.C. public schools.
Attendees asked for a variety of changes including increased transparency, more community engagement, and for the next leader to be found within the district or the state. Many expressed concern over the growth of charter partnerships and innovation schools – schools that are autonomous from most district policies.
The event was hosted by several groups including the IPS Community Coalition, an organization critical of the district’s direction under former superintendent Ferebee.
Local pastor Shaune Shelby says he attended the event to be a voice for underrepresented communities. During a small group session, Shelby said he is concerned kids from tough backgrounds aren't supported in the district’s most sought-after, high performing magnet schools.
“It makes no sense if I'm already in an economic struggle for you to put me in that school,” Shelby says.
Two IPS school board members attended the event and answered questions about the district’s hiring timeline. The district’s current plan is to make the hire in May.
“We understand that whatever we decide, there will be people who like it and people who don’t like it,” board commissioner Diane Arnold says.
The question remains whether the next district leader will continue policies laid out by Ferebee, such as the decision to partner with charter schools and create autonomous schools.
The IPS Community Coalition has come out against hiring current interim superintendent Aleesia Johnson for the permanent position.
“The experience and qualifications of Interim Superintendent Aleesia Johnson, although fitting within the state legal requirements for superintendent positions, are lacking,” the group said in a statement last month.
Some attendees at Monday’s event expressed concern that the school board would rush the hiring process. The position is not yet open, as board members say they want to spend time gathering community input.
All of the recommendations made during Monday’s meeting will be compiled by the IPS Community Coalition and given to the school board commissioners.
The district plans to hold at least three community input sessions before the search process begins.
Locations of IPS Superintendent Search Meetings
- Jan. 27, 1-3 p.m. at the Hawthorne Community Center
- March 7, 6-8 p.m. at Arsenal Technical High School
- March 13, 6-8 p.m. at George Washington Carver Montessori School 87