INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 27, 2015) — A video posted online shows a classroom full of young kids becoming out of control and fighting.
The fight happened at Phoenix Academy, in Indianapolis Public Schools. Formerly Longfellow Middle, a D-rated school, the building is part of shifts happening in the district.
The video echoed voices calling for change in city schools, showing two minutes of young kids cursing, acting out and ultimately fighting. At one point a student throws a chair, while at another point the teacher tries to separate the kids and another fight starts.
An IPS spokesperson provided the following statement regarding the incident.
“This is not a typical situation at Phoenix Academy. The teacher of this classroom was temporarily supervising additional students, but she does appear to follow the school’s general practices in the event of an incident. She is seen remaining calm and redirecting students away from an escalating situation, as the safety of our students is always paramount. Unfortunately a second altercation broke out as she was attending to the first group of students, but shortly after this video was taken students were separated into two classrooms with additional supervisory support.
Appropriate disciplinary action has been taken for the students involved. All Phoenix Academy staff is slated to receive Positive Behavior Support along with other professional development opportunities this semester.”
Tuesday, IPS board members took a major step in bringing change to the district, voting to approve the first Innovation School. Run by Phalen Leadership Academy, an outside group already running a charter school in the city, it will replace an existing chronically failing school in the Fall.
IPS has partnered with non-profit The Mind Trust to open applications for Innovation Schools, allowing anyone to present their model for a new school. The district plans to open several of the schools within the next few years.
Phalen’s model puts kids on computers and into small groups throughout the day, focusing on keeping them from having down time.
“It really keeps our kids focused and keeps our kids engaged. I believe the model allows kids to learn,” Principal Marlon Llewellyn said.
It’s a push for change that has been criticized by some who worry outside groups will privatize the district. One board member, Gayle Cosby, voted against the plan.
Still, mom Eugenia Murry spoke before the board to encourage the new school. With three kids in IPS, she’s seen how bad some of the schools can be and wanted to see change.
“The realization that two thirds of IPS schools are a D or F grade, that is disturbing and we need to see change, we really do,” Murry said.
Change board members agreed with in their comments and their move to approve the school.
“What we’re doing doesn’t work, so we’re going to try something else,” member Sam Odle said.
If all goes as planned, the first Innovation School will open in August. The district planned to announce which school it will replace in the next couple of months.