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Building a Culture of Inclusive Decision Making with Cincinnati Public Schools

Over the past month, we’ve had the incredible opportunity to support CPS on various projects by bringing in the voice of the everyday experts: students and parents. From conversations around Police Officers in schools to how CPS might better serve their growing population of new Americans, we’ve organized and facilitated important conversations that are at the heart of making the District better for everyone.

Improving Student-School Resource Officers Relationships

As the conversations around police-community relations and the unfair treatment of people of color continue to grow throughout the country, especially amongst young people, the District decided to launch conversations between the Cincinnati Police Department School Resource Officers (SROs) and students and parents. A major theme: relationship building and empathetic responses are absolutely necessary in making police-student relationships successful.

While there was a general consensus that most students and parents felt positively or indifferent about the presence of School Resource Officers, most conversation participants wanted to see some changes and improvements in the ways SROs interact with young people in schools especially when it came to having more empathetic response and implementing innovative de-escalation practices.

Creating a More Streamlined Enrollment Process

Navigating enrolling a child in school can be a challenge for any parent or caregiver, especially when there are as many options as there are in Cincinnati Public Schools. Leveraging our network, CPS partnered with us to host conversations with families to ideate and support CPS in making the enrollment process better for all.

The conversation highlighted how stressful the enrollment process can be and the importance of giving families enough time to feel prepared to make the best choice for their child. One solution proposed by parents was for the District to update their digital system with features like a “no changes” button, allowing parents to not have to repeat tedious paperwork from year to year or for multiple children.

Better supporting ESL Families Through Communications

Communicating with families, caregivers, and students during the pandemic has presented unique challenges for the District, especially for those who speak a language other than English. To assist CPS in their efforts to better reach these communities, Cohear has currently held two conversations with ESL professionals and school principals and will have an upcoming conversation with non-English speaking families early next year.

The conversations have already been helpful for CPS’ communications team as they think about ways they should update their efforts. As always, speaking directly to those with lived experience leads to new (and meaningful) solutions!


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