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IPS one step closer to regaining control of three schools

Key vote taken Friday
Posted at 4:58 PM, Dec 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-13 18:01:41-05

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Public School System is a step closer to taking back control of three city schools, including Manual High School on the south side and Howe High School on the east side.

This follows key votes Friday by the Indiana Charter School Board in which it denied charters to a company called "ReThink Forward," which hoped to operate Manual, Howe, and Emma Donnan Middle and Elementary School.

In 2012, the state took control of the schools from IPS and then turned them over to a Florida-based non-profit, Charter Schools USA, which was eventually re-branded as ReThink Forward.

But seven-years later, IPS wants the schools back and made its case Friday to the Charter School Board, saying it has partnerships in the works to show the board it is prepared for the change. Superintendent Aleesia Johnson says she has been working with Christel House Academy and its president and chief executive officer, former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson.

The charter school board also heard emotional pleas from administrators of the three schools to grant the charter. In the end, the board voted 4-3 in favor of IPS.

The Friday vote is not the last step. The Indiana State School Board needs to rule on the proposal, probably at a January meeting.

"If this were to happen, we would set up a separate school so the entire Christel House K-12 school would move from the location we are sitting in right now over to the Manual High School building," said Peterson. "It's a huge school, and we would be able to run the existing school under a contract with IPS separately in a separate part of the building."

Peterson say students who are current Manual students would be Manual graduates, and over a three-year prior, Manual would be phased into Christel House Academy.

But what happens to the other schools is not clear. Christel House will not be working with Emma Donnan and Howe. Superintendent Johnson says IPS is looking for partners for those schools.

Following the vote, IPS issued a statement which read in part: "IPS is committed to addressing the individual needs of each school, and the return of Emma Donnan, Emmerich Manual and Thomas Carr Howe to the district will allow continued expansion of sustainable choice options for all students."

"Our next steps include moving forward with our partnerships with Christel House Academy South and other entities to operate the schools under our Innovation Network Model. We look forward to presenting the Indiana State Board of Education with our plan to integrate students from all three schools into the IPS family."