Central Administration Updates, News, and Events
IASD and Indiana Borough Police Partnership
The Indiana Area School District and the Indiana Borough Police Department are excited to announce that the two organizations have come to terms to expand their existing community partnership and to increase services provided by IBPD to the schools located in White Township (Ben Franklin Elementary, East Pike Elementary, and the Senior High School). This agreement is a systematic and collaborative approach to district-wide security and safety in addition to call response. The systems approach was developed on four central pillars upon which the partnership is built. The four pillars are Presence and Relationships in our Schools; Awareness and Capacity; Professional Learning and Collaboration; and Threat Assessment and Response.
With school shootings and other school violence in the news seemingly every day, this partnership provides the opportunity for officers to become familiar with all buildings and the people who work and learn in them. It also allows for a centrally located response to our schools in an emergency at any physical location. IBPD has been committed to being proactive in providing regular walkthroughs during the school day and exterior security checks, as well as coordinated patrols and support at after-school events at our Borough School buildings, and under this system approach those efforts will expand to all district locations.
It is important to note that this program is not a School Resource Officer (SRO) program. SRO programs began in the 1960’s and involved having a designated law enforcement officer or officers working full or part-time in a specific school. Like an SRO program, the IASD-IBPD partnership aims to make police officers more visible and approachable, build positive relationships, and use omnipresence and other strategies to deter criminal activity at all schools. However, the primary safety focus is to make the entire force available and present in support of our schools. In a statement by Chief of Police Justin Schawl, “this partnership authorizes IBPD members to serve in a variety of roles to help support the District and, as opposed to focusing our efforts solely on enforcement activities, we are committed to taking a broader approach that includes interacting with and fostering relationships with students. Investing time in our schools and with our students early on is a long-term strategy to enhance school and community safety by promoting safe, healthy, and positive relationships.”
IBPD leadership will participate as member(s) of IASD’s threat assessment team and will liaison with the district to coordinate on event-specific safety and security plans, public administration matters, and policy/procedure-related topics involving school safety and security. Additionally, a goal will include intentional relationship-building activities with students which includes access to Axel, the IBPD therapy dog, who is already quite a popular visitor in IASD buildings. The partnership also provides an opportunity for professional learning and collaboration. While IBPD can coordinate training in safety and security matters, IASD can provide professional growth opportunities and an understanding of social-emotional learning goals and outcomes.
This partnership is possible due to the work of Senator (Ret.) Don White (Indiana) as a result of the unfortunate events that happened several years ago in the Franklin Regional School District. Senator White championed Bill 1194 of 2013, which is interpreted to authorize School Districts without a Municipal Police Department to contract police service from an adjacent full-time Municipal Police Department by Memorandum of Understanding. The Indiana Area School District made this request at its January 9, 2023 meeting, and it was subsequently ratified by the Indiana Borough at their January 17th meeting.
As your superintendent, it is my responsibility to ensure safe, supportive, and high-quality educational experiences for our students. As a human, it is my responsibility to care for others. I will continue to do everything within my power to ensure our schools are safe and welcoming places to learn and grow. The goals of this partnership go beyond safety and security, though such measures certainly remain significant and at the forefront. Through this partnership, we are hopeful that we can work together to build positive relationships between our first responders and our community that result in long-term benefits for all. It is our belief that this relationship will allow both agencies to work toward systematic, long-term approaches to school safety.