FISHERS, Ind. — Fishers High School is facing criticism for a student project called “Defund the Police” that was left displayed in the classroom of slain Officer Noah Shahnavaz’s brother.

The student project was from the previous school year.

On Tuesday, Officer Shahnavaz’s younger brother entered his second-block creative writing class where he saw the poster hanging.

The Shahnavaz family met with the Fishers High School administration to discuss the situation. Emails were sent out to the late officer’s younger brother’s teachers in order to communicate the difficult situation of him returning to class.

The Shahnavaz family has declined to provide further comment at this time.

We reached out to Fishers High School for a comment and this is what they said:

Our teachers strive to incorporate student-driven, relevant lessons into curriculum while meeting the academic standards as set by the Indiana Department of Education.

A student’s research project from the previous school year, listing the arguments both for and against the movement of “defunding the police” was left on display in a classroom at Fishers High School. As soon as the school was made aware of the issue, the concern was swiftly dealt with. However, we understand the impact was hurtful for individuals, and we deeply regret the pain it caused. 

While we allow teachers and students to examine social issues that are relevant to their lives, we affirm publicly through our partnership with local law enforcement that we stand in solidarity of the men and women who willing face dangerous circumstances each day to keep us safe.”

Emily Pace Abbotts, Director of School and Community Relations – HSE Schools

We also received a statement from the Hamilton Southeastern Board of School Trustees:

The Hamilton Southeastern Schools Board of School Trustees deeply regrets the pain that was caused due to a student-made research poster that was displayed in one of our high school classrooms. As a district we recognize our responsibility to provide a safe environment for students to learn and we failed to provide that in this case.

Losing Officer Shahnavaz, a young alumnus of HSE Schools, who not only served his country selflessly, but was protecting others in his job as a police officer, was devastating. HSE has let the Shahnavaz family know how deeply sorry we are to have contributed to more heartache for them. The teacher involved has apologized as well, and is deeply remorseful for causing additional pain to her student and their family.

HSE does not advocate for defunding the police. HSE works closely with the Fishers Police Department with the resource officers that are present in our buildings, the officers who help with traffic at our schools, and the officers who help monitor our community 24/7 to keep our students safe. We are and continue to be tremendously grateful for their service. Our students, staff and community are much safer because of our relationship with our police department.

HSE Schools will use this experience as an example of how we can and must do better in the future to ensure all our students feel safe, accepted, and supported.

Hamilton Southeastern Schools Superintendent Dr. Yvonne Stokes has selected attorney Daniel E. Henke to lead an independent inquiry surrounding this incident. Henke served as a Fishers town councilor for 11 years and is currently a volunteer for the HSE Schools “We the People” program.