Hamilton Southeastern Schools names new chief equity and inclusion officer
Nataki Pettigrew is the new chief equity and inclusion officer at Hamilton Southeastern Schools.
The HSE school board approved her hiring as part of a unanimous vote for the consent agenda during a board meeting on Wednesday night. Pettigrew starts her role on Jan. 19 at a salary of $80,800.
Her salary will be half funded by a grant from the Lilly Endowment that funded her predecessor's position and half funded by the district's education fund until the grant ends on June 30. From there, Pettigrew's salary will be fully funded by the education fund, HSE spokesperson Emily Pace Abbotts said.
A mother of two students in HSE schools and an educator with more than two decades of teaching and administrative experience, Pettigrew said she was drawn to the role to “be a part of the change in the district, for my kids and for other kids too.”
She told the board that she wants to work across the district to look for the truest forms of equity in instruction, curriculum and HR and “honor and respect the integrity, the worth of every student that comes in the building.”
As chief equity and inclusion officer, Pettigrew will lead the district's equity and inclusion efforts that include recruiting, retaining and supporting a diverse staff as well as providing professional development and training and serving as an advocate for equity. She'll be a member of the district administration and work with teachers and staff as well as students, families and the community at large.
Per data from the Indiana Department of Education as of October 2020, 70.2% of HSE's nearly 22,000 students are white, 8% are Asian, 7.8% are Black, 7.8% are Hispanic and 5.9% are multiracial.
Pettigrew said she is focused on helping those in and around the school district to re-examine their understanding of their role as an ally and advocate for all students.
“Equity is such an important issue. I look forward to creating an environment where every student and teacher feels welcome and excited about learning by building capacity, improving cultural awareness in all classrooms, creating brave spaces for inclusion, and developing evaluation and professional development programs,” she said in a news release.
Pettigrew added that she's confident that the district can "create and sustain equity-driven change that will live and thrive in our school system" as well as have a bold vision for equity and inclusion.
Diversity, equity and inclusion leaders as part of school district administrations are becoming more common at the K-12 level. Elsewhere in Hamilton County, Noblesville Schools hired Shelley Bethel and Carmel Clay Schools hired Terri Roberts-Leonard for similar roles for the first time in late 2020.
Pettigrew will be the second person to have this position at HSE and replaces Erica Buchanan-Rivera who left in the fall for a similar role at Washington Township Schools.
After she was hired on Wednesday evening, multiple school board members thanked and welcomed Pettigrew.
"Welcome, we have a lot of work to do," board member Julie Chambers told her.
In the news release announcing Pettigrew's hire, HSE Superintendent Allen Bourff stressed that equity and cultural competency is an important aspect of education.
“We must be forward-thinking and proactive in addressing the equities and disparities that persist within our school district," he said.
Pettigrew was previously director of curriculum and instruction and directed special services at Vanguard Collegiate of Indianapolis. She earned an educational specialist degree in district leadership as well as masters of education and administration certification from Indiana Wesleyan University.