Bill forces school districts to create gang policy, staff training

INDIANAPOLIS — A bill that requires school corporations to create a criminal gang policy, and provide educational outreach and training to school employees to identify and prevent gang activity was heard at the Senate Education and Career Development Committee Wednesday.

The bill is modeled from a similar law passed in Maryland and would implement policies to help teachers and school employees identify gang members in the school.

Many prosecuting attorneys and the Indiana School Board Association support the bill, which will help provide gang identification training.

“Gangs are becoming increasingly involved in smaller schools,” said Frank Bush of the Indiana School Board Association. “It’s not just isolated to larger schools. And I think a law like this would really help bring together a lot of resources for smaller schools to use.”

Some are concerned with a part of the bill that would require school employees to report activities that could not be a part of gang activity. The school could accidentally report students who are not active in gangs, but could end up in the juvenile system.

“When you’re try to figure out who’s a gang member and who isn’t a gang member,” said Jaunae Hanger, an attorney who specializes in juvenile justice, “your own biases really come into play if you don’t have cultural competency training.”

She adds that there are number of great ideas, that include intervention and prevention, but warns about unintended consequences.

“We have to be really cautious that we don’t continue to negatively impact the children who we’re trying to help,” said Carole Craig of the Indianapolis National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Source: Suntimes Media Group


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