INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Indianapolis Public School Board of School Commissioners will go before the State Board of Education Wednesday morning with a plan to reassert some of its control over three current charter schools.
IPS will propose closing Howe Community High School, turning Manual High School over to the Christel House Academy and inviting two charter school providers to run Emma Donnan School.
“Our hope is the future can feel more secure and can feel positive and optimistic because we have a known partner who has provided excellent opportunities and outcomes for students who we are partnering with,” said IPS Superintendent Aleesia Johnson. “We have a plan, and we have a plan with who we believe are strong partners to continue to accelerate the achievement of the students in the schools their families have chosen them to attend.”
“I think if you look at where IPS was in 2012 and where IPS is today,” said board president Michael O’Connor, “I think those families should rest well assured that we’re going to take care of the students. Our first and foremost priority is what’s in the students’ best interest.”
Howe students will be given priority enrollment at other IPS schools while the board decides the future of the high school property on East Washington Street.
IPS and Christel House Academy have reached an agreement to have CHA run Manual High School as well as transition current academy students to the Manual location.
Adelante Schools and the Phalen Leadership Academy have been invited to pair up and operate Emma Donnan as a full K-8 school.
“We try to come into the toughest parts of the community and give our children what they deserve,” said Earl Phalen, founder and CEO of PLA. “The far east side hasn’t had very many good schools or strong schools for children, and now we’ve created five A-rated schools for our scholars so they can get the quality education that can change their lives.”
Phalen said PLA operates 26 schools serving 10,000 children nationwide.
“We had seventh and eighth graders coming to us performing at third grade reading and math levels,” said Phalen as he stood inside the academy in the 4300 block of North Mitthoeffer Road. “So I think that now when you see these leaders starting to step up and now they’re gaining proficiency and they’re gaining confidence and they’re gaining a vision for their future, now you can say, ‘Wait a minute, now we can change a whole part of this city the far east side.’
“This place has a lot of love, and that is the cornerstone to why our scholars feel so good about this school,” he said. “It’s a safe school, its loving, its nurturing, and there are a range of experiences that our scholars get, from the academics, to the arts, to the athletics. And so you start to set a different vision that if you can stay focused, make the right choices, stay away from the wrong kids, stay away from bad situations, doesn’t mean things won’t happen, but you give yourself a real shot of creating a future for yourselves, for your siblings and for your family.”
17-year-old Darrance Jennings transferred to Phalen from John Marshall School on the east side.
“At Marshall, I wasn’t like I was here,” he said. “I got in so many fights, was suspended over 17 times and was just being bad, tearing up school property, so when I got here, I didn’t like it because it was different until I got in trouble one time, and then I wanted to do better because of all the options they was giving me.
“I actually sat down and chose to listen and thought of it overnight to listen to what opportunities I was given.”
Jennings has been elected class president with plans to go on to college upon graduation.
In December, the Indiana Charter School Board denied a request from Charter Schools USA to continue the operation of the three IPS schools.
CSUSA’s five-year contract with IPS expires in June.
The State Board of Education will consider IPS’ request to confirm denial of CSUSA’s continuation request and the district’s plans for the three schools.