INDIANAPOLIS – Groups that support education in Indiana are hosting a public discussion about the role of police in schools Tuesday evening.
The virtual event from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m will share current research and recommendations from experts on the subject and also take feedback from parents and students.
It will be put on by a partnership between The Mind Trust, The United Negro College Fund and Stand for Children Indiana.
Organizers say it’s to get information and that this isn’t a debate or a discussion on removing police from schools. It’s to talk about what their role is, in what ways it helps, and how it can be improved.
These organizations have heard from families about issues with police in schools and say they wanted to see how they could address it locally. They say many just wanted more information on what role police play.
“This communication, these sessions, are all about informing so many different parties who should all be at the table. That’s not just community, not just the school districts, not just the leaders and teachers, but the students and the families as well,” said Stand for Children Indiana Regional Director Ashley Thomas.
There will be a wide list of people taking part in the panel, including the chief of police for Indianapolis Public Schools. Also taking part are parents and students who have diverse experiences with officers in schools.
“Bringing those voices to the table in the same space, I don’t know if it’s ever happened. But it needs to happen more often. And we’re going to be the game changers to bring it all together,” said Thomas.
Vice President of Advocacy and Student Professional Development Programs for The United Negro College Fund, Sekou Biddle, will be one of the moderators. He says many parents place safety high on their priority list for their students in school, so they just want to discuss what role police play in that.
“What are things that are actually making it safer for children in school, and what might be some things that we’re doing in the name of safety that are actually not particularly making schools safer for children but are actually getting in the way of their education,” Biddle said.
They also have research that says Black and Latino students are disproportionately impacted by issues with police in schools.
“It shouldn’t be a case where students who look a certain way are being treated and disciplined in a way that’s different from others because of the way they look,” said Chelsea S. Reed with The Mind Trust.
Thomas agrees, saying everyone deserves to be involved in this discussion.
“Often times, decisions are made about them and they’re not at the table. So, we’re being very intentional to include the communities that we serve,” Thomas said.
This is planned to be part one in a two-part discussion. After Tuesday, they will put together the responses and come back on August 17 to try and tackle solutions.
The panel will be taking questions and input from the audience. There will also be an interpreter so that Spanish-speaking families can participate.
Anyone who wants to attend is asked to register here.