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Iowa City school district working on equity concerns with protest organizers

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) - Administrators in the Iowa City Community School District have been communicating with protest organizers in the city for the last few weeks, trying to make headway on a list of demands.

The Iowa Freedom Riders want less police involvement on ICCSD campuses, a more diverse school board that represents the community as a whole, a review of how and why students are sent to the district's alternative school (Tate High School) and more.

At a board of director's meeting Tuesday night, board members voiced their support for these changes and desire to get them done quickly.

"We can say a lot of things on a piece of paper but we need to make sure that the follow-through is there; not just the intent," board president Shawn Eyestone said.

Unlike the Cedar Rapids Community School District and others, ICCSD does NOT have uniformed School Resource Officers at any of its schools. However, administrators can call on Iowa City Police and other local law enforcement to calm a situation if needed.

Community members have been speaking up against the use of police in their schools for over a year now.

In a list of demands shared with the board recently, protest organizers say they want responding officers unarmed and called to campuses a lot less. The district has agreed to further tracking the frequency and cause of these calls to see if a policy change is appropriate.

As far as reviewing the use of Tate High School, the district has said it will train staff on best ways to discuss the school as an option for students. They also commit to "identify steps to address disproportionate enrollment (of minority students) at Tate."

The board directed district staff to draft a statement in support of a more diverse school board and review it with IFR before submitting it to the board for approval.

Travis Breese

Reporter, Iowa City

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