Sec. of Education Betsy DeVos visits Indianapolis charter school

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.- U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos made a visit to Indiana, as she wrapped up her multi-state “Rethink Schools” tour.

She made stops in Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas to highlight innovative ways educators are teaching students with specific needs.

In Indianapolis, DeVos made the Hope Academy her final stop. Hope Academy is a charter school which also offers substance abuse treatment to students addicted to drugs and alcohol.

“It was absolutely amazing,” said Hope Academy student Dustin Mitchell, “I’m hoping this leads to a lot more recovery schools.”

Hope Academy is a tuition-free charter school and is the only recovery high school in the state. It is also just one of 38 recovery high schools in the country. It teaches Indiana’s Core 40  standards, but also provides recovery services in partnership with the Fairbanks treatment center.

“So that’s extra expense, so we would love some additional funding to help with that gap,” said Barb Elliott, the president and CEO of Fairbanks and Hope Academy.

However, the school gets no direct federal money to help with the additional cost of providing treatment services. School leaders were hoping DeVos’s visit might get the ball rolling on additional federal funding for all schools like theirs.

“Madame Secretary listened very, very well,” said Elliott, “and when you hear from your students and parents and their stories, that makes you understand how important this school is to the community.”

Yet despite highlighting the school as a success for serving students with specific needs, Devos stopped short of saying more federal funding is a solution or a priority

“The federal government has a role to play, but most importantly we need to empower the states to do what they do best,” said Devos.

Friday evening, she also stopped at Eastern Hancock High School to watch a football game, where she spoke with reporters.

“We need to provide as much flexibility to local communities to be able to start schools like this,” said Devos.

Friday morning, DeVos also visited a charter school in Gary.