The Daily Churn: Wednesday

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

State Education Commissioner Dwight Jones meets the public in Las Vegas today as he explores the top schools job there. He and his competition – Dallas Superintendent Michael Hinojosa – will be the guests at two 90-minute community forums. Thursday, Jones and Hinojosa begin their interviews with Clark County, Nev. school board members. A decision is expected by mid-October.

As we noted Tuesday, a third finalist for the job, Florida’s James Browder, has dropped out. That, coupled with concerns about Jones’ lack of experience running a big-city district and Hinojosa’s financial record in Dallas, could prompt Vegas board members to ask their search firm to produce a third candidate, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Dallas Independent School District will consider offering Hinojosa a raise or contract extension in an effort to keep him, the Dallas Morning News reported this morning. The idea reportedly is not unanimously popular among board members, who will discuss it in a closed-door meeting tomorrow. Will Colorado make similar efforts to keep Jones?

The Colorado Legacy Foundation has named Stephanie Wasserman as director of its health and wellness programs, which provide resources to schools on nutrition, health education, physical activity, school health clinics, bullying prevention and employee wellness. Wasserman has been director of community and school-based programs fro the Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics and is board vice president of the Colorado Association for School-Based Health Care.

What’s on tap:

The Higher Education Strategic Planning Steering Committee convenes at 10 a.m. to do some further refinement on its draft plan. The panel is shopping its ideas around in a series of public meetings, the next of which is Sept. 29 at Mesa State College in Grand Junction. It’s final report to the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and the governor is due Nov. 4.

The first public hearing, Sept. 14 in Pueblo, played to a largely sympathetic audience of some three-dozen local civic leaders and CSU-Pueblo staff. The session’s mood was somewhat downbeat, however, with several speakers bemoaning low public awareness of higher ed’s problems.

Read the current draft of the plan here, and download the slide presentation that panel members are using on their road show.

The state Capital Construction Assistance Board meets from 1 to 3:30 p.m. in the first-floor board room at 201 E. Colfax Ave. The board administers the Build Excellent Schools Today program (agenda).

The Mesa State College trustees meet at 10 a.m. in the board room on campus in Grand Junction (agenda).

Good reads from elsewhere:

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

More in What's Your Education Story?

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.