Indiana Board Votes on School Takeover Plan
(With additional reporting from Brandon Smith of Indiana Public Broadcasting and Michael Puente of Illinois Public Radio)
The Indiana State Board of Education has unanimously approved a plan to takeover five poor-performing public schools that are in their sixth year of academic probation.
The board endorsed the Indiana Department of Education's recommendations that New York-based Edison Learning Inc. take over Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy in Gary and that Indianapolis-based charter school operator EdPower take over Arlington High School. It also approved Florida-based Charter Schools USA as the "turnaround school operator'' of three other Indianapolis schools, Howe and Manual high schools and Donnan Middle School.
The management companies will spend this current school year assessing and evaluating the schools, and then develop a plan of action before taking full control during the next school year.
In additional to school management, many teachers could be replaced by the state beginning next year. Teachers union contracts would be nullified as well.
Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Eugene White, who attended Monday's meeting in Indianapolis, said some of the information about IPS that the board discussed is blatantly untrue.
"I really resent the fact that people can sit there and pretend that we've done nothing to make an effort," White said. "We've made tremendous efforts and respectively, I want those particular efforts recognized."
State superintendent Tony Bennett said the time for such complaints has long been over.
"Well, very bluntly, Dr. White's had two years to talk about fair shakes and share transparent information," Bennett said. "So to come to the board today and say, 'I'm not getting a fair shake,' is disingenuous."
For the last couple of years, the Indiana State Department of Education has looked at taking over roughly two dozen poor-performing schools. Such action is allowed under a state law passed in 1999.
Indianapolis Public Schools officials have threatened to sue the state over what they consider unfair evaluations of Arlington and Howe high schools.