New Indianapolis charter school to target expelled, incarcerated students

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 9, 2015)-- In what may be a first of its kind educational environment, an Indianapolis charter school set to open in August will target students who have been expelled or suspended from mainline schools or are incarcerated in the Marion County Juvenile Justice Center.

"We decided not only would they be able to get their high school degree, not just a GED but a high school degree, and recover credits and also learn a certifiable skill, a vocation, either welder any sort of heavy machine operator, or go on to Ivy Tech or a college for that matter," said Superior Judge Clark Rogers, who spent 11 years in juvenile court. "Any students that have been expelled from ips or the county schools that have been involved in the juvenile justice system that are on probation will be eligible to go to this school.

"We're trying to help give everybody a second chance."

Also scoring a second chance is the former republican candidate for Marion County Sheriff Emmitt Carney who has been named director of the Marion and Hillside Academies.

"I think the biggest challenge is bringing these kids in and getting them to buy in to the fact that somebody cares about them, somebody wants to see them do better, somebody's willing to hold their hand and more or less say, 'Walk to the light at the end of the tunnel,'" said Carney, a former Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agent. "Say you take an 'F' student and he becomes a 'D' student and we see maybe he goes from being unsocialable to getting along and learning to control his emotions and getting along with people and understanding that this is part of life and we might all be different but we all got to come together."

The Marion Academy for expelled or suspended students will be located at the former IPS #68 at East 21st Street and North Riley Avenue. The Hillside Academy will be located inside the juvenile justice complex.

"I think you've got to find the right people who know what they are getting into," said Carney as he contemplated hiring a staff. "This is not your traditional school. You've got to be somebody who's compassionate, understands both sides of the fence with the side we're on and the side they're on and where they're coming from and it's going to take a lot of attention to detail and you'll just have to be that special person and I think we can find these people."

Carney has scoured the country as a youth baseball coach and scout for Major League Baseball.

He's already surveyed the grounds at the proposed academy to imagine a baseball field out back.

"If nothing else we'll teach them to throw and play catch," Carney said. "I've met with the guys from Douglass Little League. They're excited because the school is right on the edge of their jurisdiction and, like I said, people are excited."