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Indianapolis Public Schools opposes charter school operator of Emma Donnan

Fight over elementary and middle school
Posted at 9:01 AM, Dec 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-10 09:02:02-05

INDIANAPOLIS — The superintendent of the state's largest school system is renewing calls to cut ties with the out-of-state charter company running one of its schools.

Indianapolis Public Schools is seeking the return of Emma Donnan Elementary and Middle School.

The district lost the school in 2013 because of poor academic performance at the time. Now, IPS is asking the Indiana Charter Schools Board to drop Florida-based Charter Schools USA because it violated its agreement with the district.

That includes providing IPS with academic and discipline reports, significant staff turnover, and a drop in the number of students.

"What I won't do is deny there are teachers working really hard in all those schools on behalf of the student every day," Aleesia Johnson, IPS superintendent, said. "No questions about that."

"It's really about letting the school district making authority around who they partner with, and what that relationship with the district," Johnson said.

The state board will vote on the issue on Friday. It is not clear whether the committee will hear one more time from IPS or Charter Schools USA before making its decision.

"We want to operate that school," Johnson said. "We believe there is a partner we can choose to operate the school — who can give us better outcomes than what we've seen in the past year."

Charter schools USA delivered a stinging response to IPS on Tuesday morning. They say, in part, that IPS is using false statements to discredit them. Adding that they are:

"... staying the course to help some of Indianapolis' most vulnerable students find a way to break out of the cycle of poverty by providing them with an educational option that best serves them. The only IPS students who outperformed the turnaround school students under CSUSA and NEI management were privileged white students. This is unacceptable and truly needs to be addressed."

What happens if IPS loses?

Regardless, IPS will stop providing transportation to the school in the fall of 2020, and the big question will be the future of the school building.

The Emma Donnan building belongs to IPS.