Who Is In Charge

Top adviser to the superintendent leaves Indianapolis Public Schools

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy

Le Boler, a top Indianapolis Public Schools official and one of Superintendent Lewis Ferebee’s closest advisors, left the district last week.

Boler, who served as chief strategist, was one of several staffers who followed Ferebee from North Carolina when he was hired in 2013. She was a top administrator, overseeing public relations, strategic planning, and parent involvement for the district. As of January, she was paid $136,000 per year.

Boler’s resignation was disclosed on the June district personnel report, and she could not immediately be reached for comment. School Board President Michael O’Connor said Boler said she was leaving the district to move back to North Carolina and be closer to family. Two of her children graduated from high school this year, he added.

“It was the right time for her to rejoin the community in North Carolina where she came from,” O’Connor said. “We will miss her advice and guidance as somebody who was also particularly impactful in helping the superintendent make decisions.”

The departure of Boler, who was a visible member of Ferebee’s staff, comes at a delicate time for Indianapolis Public Schools. The district is trying to gain support for two referendums to seek more funding from taxpayers, a campaign that has already been rocky. Plus, Ferebee was publicly named a finalist for superintendent of the Los Angeles school district, a revelation that left some wondering how long he will remain in Indianapolis.

In her role in the district, Boler often appeared alongside Ferebee at public meetings and press briefings. She played a key role in the district’s handling of issues including high school closings, the planned referendums to increase school funding, and transportation changes.

Boler was also involved in a 2016 scandal where the district was accused of failing to report sexual abuse allegations to the Indiana Department of Child Services for six days.

Boler started her education career in administration support roles for districts in North Carolina and worked with Ferebee in Durham Public Schools and Guilford County schools.

Another top leader who came with Ferebee from North Carolina, Wanda Legrand, left last August for a job with D.C. Public Schools.

meet the candidates

These candidates are running for Detroit school board. Watch them introduce themselves.

Nine candidates are vying for two seats on Detroit's school board in November. Seven submitted photos.

One candidate tells of a childhood in a house without heat.

Another describes the two-hour commute he made to high school every day to build a future that would one day enable him to give back to Detroit.

A third says her work as a student activist inspired her to run for school board as a recent high school grad.

These candidates are among nine people vying for two seats up for grabs on Detroit’s seven-member school board on Nov. 6. That includes one incumbent and many graduates of the district.

Chalkbeat is partnering with Citizen Detroit to present a school board candidate forum Thursday, Sept. 20 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at IBEW Local 58, 1358 Abbott St., Detroit.

Participants will have the opportunity to meet each candidate and ask questions in a speed-dating format.

In anticipation of that event, Citizen Detroit invited each of the candidates to make a short video introducing themselves to voters. Seven candidates made videos.

Watch them here:

School safety

Report lists litany of failings over police in Chicago schools

PHOTO: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Police officers stand alongside Lake Shore Drive in August as protesters decry violence and lack of investment in African-American neighborhoods and schools

The Chicago Police Department doesn’t adequately screen and train the officers it assigns to Chicago Public Schools, and their roles in schools are poorly defined, according to a sharply critical report released today by the Office of Inspector General Joseph Ferguson.

The report lists a litany of failings, including basic administration: There is no current agreement between the police department and the district governing the deployment of school resource officers, or SROs, and neither the schools nor the police even have a current list of the officers working in schools this year.

The inspector general’s report also mentions several sets of SRO resources and best practices created and endorsed by the federal government, then notes that Chicago hasn’t adopted any of them. “CPD’s current lack of guidance and structure for SROs amplifies community concerns and underscores the high probability that students are unnecessarily becoming involved in the criminal justice system, despite the availability of alternate solutions,” says the report.

Chalkbeat reported in August about incidents in which SROs used batons and tasers on students while intervening in routine disciplinary matters.

Scrutiny of SROs is nothing new, and is part of the broader CPD consent decree brokered this week between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. That agreement calls for better training and vetting of SROs, as well as a clearer delineation of their roles on campuses—including a prohibition against participating in routine school discipline — beginning with the 2019-20 school year.

Read more: How the police consent decree could impact Chicago schools

But the report from Ferguson’s office says that the consent decree doesn’t go far enough. It chastises police for not pledging to include the community in the creation of its agreement with the school district, nor in the establishment of hiring guidelines; and for not creating a plan for evaluating SROs’ performance, among other recommendations. In addition, the report criticizes the police department for delaying the reforms until the 2019-20 school year. A draft of the inspector general’s report was given to the police department in early August in hopes that some of the issues could be resolved in time for the school year that began last week. The police department asked for an extension for its reply.