Attorney General Rokita plans to appeal ruling backing IPS in lawsuit over $1 law

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This story was originally published by Chalkbeat Indiana.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita plans to appeal a Marion County judge’s ruling that grants Indianapolis Public Schools an exemption from state law requiring districts to sell closed school buildings to charter schools for $1.

Rokita is also seeking an emergency stay of Judge Heather Welch’s Monday ruling in order to prevent IPS from selling Francis Bellamy School 102 at Thursday’s school board meeting. IPS plans to sell the building to local not-for-profit Voices Corp., which works with youth.

The lawsuit from IPS against Rokita and state board of education officials sought relief from the so-called $1 law. It also highlighted disagreements between the district and some members of the charter community about the best use of facilities and resources.

The district argues it is exempt from the law because it shares funding from a 2018 operating referendum with charter schools in its Innovation Network of autonomous schools. Lawmakers revised the $1 law this year to exempt districts if they share funds from voter-approved property tax increases for operating or safety expenses with an “applicable charter school.”

Welch ruled that IPS is exempt from the law so long as it continues to share those referendum funds with its charter schools.

But she said that the district would need to comply with a new law—which requires Marion County school districts to share such funds with all charter schools that enroll any of its students—if it extends its current sharing agreement, or if voters pass another funding referendum.

Rokita said Wednesday in a written statement that IPS should be held to the letter and spirit of state law.

“Like every case, we take it head on and do not back down,” he said. “We truly believe in parental rights, so we plan to file an appeal as soon as possible.”

IPS did not offer comment on Rokita’s announcement but referred to their statement sent on Monday that expressed gratitude for the judge’s ruling.

Chalkbeat Indiana is a not-for-profit news site covering educational change in public schools.

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11 thoughts on “Attorney General Rokita plans to appeal ruling backing IPS in lawsuit over $1 law

    1. +1
      This guy never met an issue that he wasn’t on the wrong side of… What a joke. He’s an embarrassment to this entire state and people need to wake up and realize that. What happened to him when he was younger to mold him into such a person; utterly and completely lacking empathy, yet ripe with contempt & arrogance. The irony is that I’m sure he thinks he’s a good person… It begs the question who he’s truly beholden to. I hope one day we find out… But I hope it’s not too late.

  1. For the political Todd Rokita, as the second-to-last paragraph makes clear, he puts “parental rights” ahead of taxpayer value (i.e., the sale for $1 of a property worth hundreds of thousands of dollars paid for with our taxes).

    Both Rokita and the law passed by a GOP-controlled legislature that promotes such a ridiculous, lopsided assault on common sense are wrong, and need to be tossed aside.

    1. Rokita is trying to cover for the legislators writing a law with a loophole that IPS found and dared take advantage of.

      Maybe better legislators would have written better laws.

  2. Maybe they should ask the taxpayers that funded the buildings if they want their tax payer funded facilities going to for profit schools that also get funding for students but then kick them out one day or week after the funding deadline. Tell Todd and his charter school friends to stay in their lane. if they want buildings pay for it yourselves.

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