INDIANAPOLIS – During opening remarks at the Indiana School Safety Academy this morning, Glenda Ritz, Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, announced additional efforts by the Indiana Department of Education aimed at ensuring that all Hoosier students learn in an environment that is safe and welcoming.
“No student can learn unless they are safe,” said Ritz. “As a lifelong educator, I know that keeping our children safe and healthy is a responsibility that our schools take very seriously. That is why the Department is expanding the services it provides to local schools and law enforcement and why we will be working with the Legislature to strengthen Indiana’s laws in the upcoming legislative session.”
The Department’s plan includes actions the Department is currently undertaking, as well as legislative proposals that the Department will put forth during next year’s legislative session. The plan focuses on preventing individuals with certain convictions from being in contact with children, providing enhanced training to schools that will help identify possible victims of abuse and streamlining the process to revoke licenses of educators that have been convicted of certain crimes.
Specifically, the Department’s plan calls for the following:
- Working with background check providers to ensure that their services are provided to schools at a discounted rate, thus encouraging school districts to also check backgrounds of regular school and coaching volunteers in addition to all school personnel.
- Making enhanced training available to all schools that helps school personnel identify students that may be abused and the behaviors to be on the lookout for regarding possible predators.
- Continuing our focus on Indiana’s School Safety Academy. Every year, the Department trains School Safety Specialists and educators throughout Indiana on how to ensure that every school is safe and welcoming for Hoosier children. This program is offered at no cost to schools and law enforcement and will continue to focus on critical safety issues with input from all involved stakeholders. In the last four years, the Department has trained more than 1,700 new school safety specialists and created the IDOE Response Team to better serve schools during a large-scale crisis. The program has become a model that is being followed by other states.
- Streamlining the license revocation process for educators convicted of certain offenses. Currently, state law says that there must be a separate administrative process to revoke an educator’s license after the educator is convicted. This can unnecessarily delay the revocation process. In the past, the Department has pushed for judges to be able to revoke educator licenses upon conviction and will continue to do so. This change requires legislative action.