Kelly Bentley makes it official: She's running for IPS school board

Kelly Bentley, a Democrat who supports school choice and other education reforms, officially announced today she will seek to be elected again this fall to the Indianapolis Public School Board.

Bentley said her goals — a quality school in every neighborhood, promoting school autonomy, and enhancing financial efficiency — inspired her to return to school board politics. She left the board in 2010 after 12 years as a frequent critic of the district’s leadership during Eugene White’s superintendency.

Kelly Bentley
Kelly Bentley

Bentley is seeking to reclaim her old District 3 seat, which is currently occupied by Samantha Adair-White, who said Tuesday she has not yet decided whether to run for a second term on the board. The filing deadline is Aug. 22. The election is Nov. 4.

“It’s no secret that when I served on the board before, I was a bit of an agitator,” said Bentley, who is an IPS graduate and parent. “I believed the district should be more transparent and could be doing more to reach its potential and meet student needs. Now I want to serve on the board to work with IPS Superintendent Lewis Ferebee to implement a shared vision for a modern, urban school district that’s poised for success in the 21st century.”

Bentley helped start a local chapter of Democrats for Education Reform, a national group that pushes for school choice, school and teacher accountability systems, and the national Common Core State Standards. She also helped in 2012 on the IPS school board election campaigns for current board members Caitlin Hannon and Gayle Cosby.

Under Ferebee’s leadership, Bentley said she feels the district is going in the right direction once again and wants to be a part of that.

“I get the feeling that there’s a new attitude about the need for change in the district,” Bentley said. “That’s what excites me about going back on the board, to help move forward a lot of the ideas that seem to be percolating. (Ferebee) seems to have a willingness to think outside the box.”

Terms are expiring for two other board members, Annie Roof and Michael Brown. Both have announced plans to seek re-election. Former state Rep. Mary Ann Sullivan has said she is considering challenging Roof, who serves as board president, for an at-large seat on the board. Sullivan said Tuesday she still intends to run and expects to formally announce the launch of her campaign soon.

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.