• Charity Scott

Two IPS Schools' Principal Searches Botched by the District.

Updated: Jun 9, 2019

Update on School 43 principal search (6/9/2019):

"IPS announced June 5 that a new leader has been appointed for James Whitcomb Riley School 43. It followed a search process that engaged teachers, staff, parents and community. However, the search volunteers had no input whatsoever into the selection of the individual appointed, which was not how IPS leadership had presented the process to unfold and comes on the back of a royally botched search for the principal of nearby Shortridge High School—that featured a candidate recommendation from HR who is married to the head of IPS HR. (Now that Dr. Ferebee is gone, could we please end the blatant cronyism—and nepotism?) The candidate recommended unanimously by the search committee at JWR School 43 turned down the offer, HR reported. Instead of reviewing further applications, as IPS leadership had earlier indicated would be the process, an individual was appointed who hadn’t even been interviewed by the committee.

Such blatant disrespect for stakeholder engagement, the botched process to replace school leaders, and the deepened disruptive learning environment at JWR School 43 illustrates why the district leader clearly has not demonstrated the skills needed to become the next Superintendent of IPS. The children, families, teachers, staff and communities of IPS deserve better. There is a concerted effort among school privatization groups in the city to ramrod the Interim Superintendent into the permanent leadership position. While such a move would directly benefit such groups’ special interests, it would further erode our traditional public schools, which has been her role since arriving in the district five years ago, and the Board of School Commissioners have fully endorsed it.

If you value IPS, don’t be bamboozled! Please speak out. If you don’t speak out, the privatization gang may succeed in fully taking over the district. They are on the cusp of doing so right now because Interim Superintendent Aleesia Johnson, who comes from within their ranks, is their greatest champion, and our Board Commissioners seem more interested in settling for what is most comfortable for their sense of stability than what is best for all stakeholders of IPS. "


IPSCC's statement to the board Thursday, May 30th, 2019. See below for shocking update on School 43.

"Although the names won’t be announced of the finalists until a few days prior to June 18th open meeting, in order to improve transparency and rebuild trust with staff, families, and community members, the IPS Community Coalition hopes the board would be willing to make public a list of generic qualifications for each candidate separately, keeping each anonymous.

For example: Candidate 1 has 10 years of experience as a district administrator, 25 years total overall experience. Has held the roles of X, Y and Z. As a school leader, their schools achieved a C or above each year, and suspensions were consistently below 15 percent of the student population.

As the superintendent sets the tone for the district, and as the years under Ferebee’s leadership with the help of current interim superintendent, have been destabilizing with schools being taken over by charter partners, and schools closed and constantly shuffled around, every year. The stability of our students and their learning environments should be a priority, as it directly effects their academic achievement. The stability for the school board members and their “ease” of office, should not be prioritized. The high school closures resulted in abysmal pass rates, both the year closures were announced, as well as their last year in operation.

Two schools this year have had very shocking situations occur which are a direct reflection of current interim district leadership. Shortridge’s long planned principal search, which had much input by the teachers and staff as well as parents and community, has been botched by the district, two highly inappropriate candidates somehow made it to the top three choices selected by the district.

Additionally, James Whitcomb Riley, 43 is the LAST neighborhood school on the north side of Indianapolis. It is in a transformation zone, and as such teachers and staff do not have union protection. They are very concerned about likely retaliation by the school and district as they try to speak out against the deteriorating conditions at the school. It has become an unsafe space for students and staff, and thus learning is stifled. The strong community support this school has, and the resources they have provided for those children for years, as well as the additional funds the school supposedly receives as it is in the transformation zone, makes it clear that strong school leadership is what is lacking in this building--and district.

When people think about equity, they usually think only about dollars and cents – which are indeed important. But as school 43 shows, competent, experienced leadership is an absolute necessity if equitable education is to be provided for our neighborhood schools, especially those who have been struggling in recent years due to leadership problems stemming from district decisions, as has school 43.

But this indeed is also


true for the district. Our large urban district with majority poor, black and brown and high population of students with special needs, deserves absolutely the most qualified, most experienced superintendent, with the most holistic in understanding what our students need; A superintendent who would then ensure that all schools have strong school leaders, something we have too long been lacking in too many of our buildings."

A school 43 parent's update on their principal search:

"Our principal search has been botched as well. I learned Friday that the candidate we selected “declined” the position. I asked why when she came fully prepared for the position, researched and put together folders for each of us detailing her vision and mission for the school, along with her expansive knowledge on trauma informed care, district lead workshops, and accolades all over the board. No response. I’m convinced they were able to dismay her some how. Probably pay or something else that ran her off. So now we are back to square one with zero candidates and less than 20 days of school left. It’s strategic. Run it into the summer so folks will forget about it, participation drops off and they get their candidate a shoe in. I’m over it. I also asked when they learned of the candidates declination, and the timeline of when they told us. Nothing."

Contact your board members if you are concerned about what is happening in these two schools, as a result of the interim leadership. Stand for Children (the Mind Trust and Indy Chamber of Commerce) thinks she's the best candidate, do you?

Susan Collins collinss@myips.org

Taria Slack slackt@myips.org

Evan Hawkins hawkinse@myips.org

Diane Arnold arnoldd@myips.org

Michael O'Connor OConnorMB@myips.org

Elizabeth Gore goree@myips.org

Venita Moore moorevj@myips.org

Recent Posts

See All

A seemingly racist public statement was made by Robert Behning, Republican House Education Committee Chair. When asked why Black students were not doing well academically, he said, “I would suggest th