Hamilton Southeastern Schools will ‘make improvements’ following ‘Defund the Police?’ poster investigation


Fishers City Judge Dan Henke has completed his investigation and report on an incident involving the younger brother of fallen Elwood Police Dept. Officer Noah Shahnavaz. Upon returning to school in August,, the younger Shahnavaz – a student at Fishers High School – encountered a poster in a classroom that read “Defund the Police?”

Hamilton Southeastern Schools launched an approximate six-week investigation into the incident but isn’t releasing the findings, citing student confidentiality.

Officer Shahnavaz was a Fishers native and a 2016 FHS graduate who was fatally shot during a July 31 traffic stop.

In the wake of the August incident, school officials said the poster was part of a research project made by a student that looked at the pros and cons of defunding the police. The poster was removed from the classroom, and the school district and school board released statements apologizing for the incident.

HSE said in a statement Oct. 14 that it does not consent to release the report because of a “significant amount of student information.”

HSE will use the findings from the report to create and build upon current procedures for the re-entry of students following a traumatic event,” the statement reads. “HSE is committed to doing everything possible to ensure all students feel safe, accepted and supported while in school, and supporting teachers in this endeavor. Additionally, HSE has already begun organizing a regularly scheduled meeting with local law enforcement and public safety officials to improve communications and cultivate the trust of the community.”

A summary of improvements was also issued that stated:

  • “School administration, counselor and/or school social worker will contact the affected student and family to offer a re-entry meeting to determine a plan for on-going supports and what information they are comfortable with sharing to create safeguards.
  • “Notify appropriate teachers and staff to discuss instructional and social emotional supports needed, including changes to the classroom environment and/or student’s schedule.
  • “School administration will provide oversight and regular check-ins with affected student and applicable staff to monitor student’s transition to school and report any possible stressors.”

Even with HSE’s statement some, like the Fishers One, a community-based organization that focuses on “restoring academic excellence in (HSE) schools,” was critical of the handling of the investigation.

Fishers One released a statement Oct. 17 that called HSE’s statement “vague.” The organization criticizes the school for not updating the community during the investigation.

Fishers One has taken issue with the direction and lack of transparency of HSE Schools,” the statement reads.

Diane Eaton, a member of Fishers One, said HSE should have at least released a statement during the investigation informing the public it was ongoing. She also said that releasing the findings on the Friday before fall break was questionable.

“It seemed to be a very long process with no information,” Eaton said. “Why release it on the Friday before fall break when I believe many people go out, go out of town. So, it’s kind of like they didn’t really want people to know that they were releasing it.”

HSE did not respond to request for an interview about the matter but referred Current to the district’s online prepared statement.