Indianapolis Public Schools creates equity committee to address outdated policies

Students walk along the right side of a school hallway.
Students walk in the hallways of Global Prep, a charter school that’s part of the IPS Innovation Network. A new equity committee will advise the school board on policy updates and long-term strategies to address inequities in the district. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Chalkbeat Indiana)

Indianapolis Public Schools will launch an advisory committee tasked with recommending culturally responsive and equitable policies to the school board. 

The Culturally Responsive and Equitable Education Committee approved by the school board Thursday will review district policies and procedures and suggest ways to address inequities that lead to disparate educational outcomes for students, according to the group’s charter.  

The inaugural group of 10 people includes parents, IPS staff, community members, and school board commissioners Nicole Carey and Diane Arnold. Although it can make recommendations, the power to adopt those suggestions will remain with the school board. 

IPS has made equity a priority in recent years. Last year, it adopted the Rebuilding Stronger reorganization to expand specialized academic offerings to all geographic areas of the district. In December, the board passed a language justice policy that seeks to address inequities experienced by students whose first language is not English. 

Carey, who proposed the committee and runs an equity consulting firm, said before Thursday’s vote that she hopes the committee would bring the district’s recent equity efforts together and help IPS look at the topic through a comprehensive lens. 

Some district policies from the 1980s and 1990s are not centered in equity for students, Carey noted.  

“Even though this is the work I do every day, I can’t make these decisions on my own, and I can’t make these recommendations in a vacuum,” she said. “They need to be community-created.”

The committee will meet every two weeks until January and will make official policy recommendations in February, Carey said. After that, the group will continue to meet at least quarterly. 

Carey said the committee could also advise the district as it works on its next long-term strategic plan. 

The committee is scheduled to meet Sept. 7 at 5 p.m. at 1220 Waterway Boulevard in Indianapolis. 

Amelia Pak-Harvey covers Indianapolis and Marion County schools for Chalkbeat Indiana. Contact Amelia at apak-harvey@chalkbeat.org

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