Teachers allowed to break up fights under new IPS policy

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 28, 2015) -- In the wake of a hallway fight video that went viral, teachers in Indianapolis Public Schools will now be protected if they step in to break up a fight.

The IPS board voted to approve a new district-wide policy at its meeting Thursday night.

The policy authorizes the limited use of physical force by staff members but only in certain situations:

  • To prevent a student from injuring himself/herself or others, including self-defense and the defense of others by a staff member.
  • To stop a student from damaging the property of the Board or others.
  • To end the disruption of an educational function or prevent interference with a school activity.

"(The video) really was an eye-opener for us that we didn’t have a policy around when employees should be involved and how they should be involved," Superintendent Dr. Lewis Ferebee said.

There was still some skepticism, though. One board member, Gayle Cosby, voted against the policy.

Indianapolis Education Association President Rhondalyn Cornett told the board the policy was too vague, expressing worry that it could force teachers to intervene.

"I just want them to be very clear with administrators because sometimes what they say and what actually happens in the buildings are two different things," Cornett said.

Ferebee said the district would work with administrators to lay out more specific guidelines and codes of conduct this summer.

The fight video is not the first -- FOX59 has highlighted three such videos in the district this school year. It lead to the next question: how does the district gain control?

"The root cause and the way to prevent those type of things from happening in our schools is supervision," Ferebee said.

Ferebee admitted that the Northwest video also showed the need for changes to the way IPS prevents fights in the first place.

"I saw the video and I’ll tell you that if you look at the first few minutes, it was really clear that there needed to be more supervision in the hallway and it could’ve prevented the altercation," Ferebee said.

You can view the full policy by clicking here.

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