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UPDATE: Indy schools seek records on state takeovers

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 Indianapolis Public Schools leaders filed a public records request Thursday seeking information on the 2011 takeover of four schools amid questions about the integrity of the state's A-F school grading formula.

IPS Board of Commissioners President Diane Arnold called for a review of the decisions that led the state to give control of the schools to charter operators after they were consistently found to be "failing."

"The accountability system is supposed to be transparent," Arnold said in a statement. "It is in the best interest of our students and their families for all of the facts surrounding the school takeovers to be disclosed to the public and reviewed in the light of day."

The grading system has been under fire since The Associated Press published emails last month showing former schools chief Tony Bennett oversaw changes to the formula to ensure a top Republican donor's school received an 'A'. Bennett subsequently resigned as Florida's education commissioner.

Local school leaders who complained of secrecy in the Bennett administration over the school grades before the emails were released have since said the grades issued last year should be deemed invalid. Fort Wayne Community School Corp. voted 6-1 Monday to support a resolution from Democrat Mark GiaQuinta refusing to recognize the state's school grading system.

Gov. Mike Pence on Thursday said he was standing by the state's school-grading system and would not consider calls to suspend the grades for a year. He blamed the media for "anxiety" over the school grades.

"I understand the anxiety that's been created over allegations that have been reported in the press and questions that have been raised around email communications," he said Thursday. "We're going to get to the bottom of the accusations that have been raised."

Bennett took control of four Indianapolis schools in 2011, after years of poor test scores and graduation rates. He cited Indiana's school takeover law, passed a dozen years earlier by Indiana Democrats, in saying it was time to give control of the schools to charter school groups.

An Indianapolis charter school group won one of the contracts from the state. Charter Schools USA, whose president has donated to Bennett and hired Bennett's wife earlier this year, won the contracts for the three other Indianapolis schools.

IPS officials pointed out earlier this month that if Bennett had shown the schools the same deference he gave Christel House Academy, a charter school founded by donor Christel DeHaan, they would have been taken off the state's takeover list. But Bennett said at the time that showing any flexibility in how the school grades were calculated would undercut the entire system.

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  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

  3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.

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