IPS board authorizes sale of Francis Bellamy School 102 amid legal battle with Indiana AG

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This story was originally published by Chalkbeat Indiana.

Indianapolis Public Schools is moving ahead with the sale of Francis Bellamy School 102 while the legal battle over whether the district must offer it to charter schools for $1 continues in court.

The school board voted 6-0 Thursday to authorize the sale of the school at 9501 E. 36th Place on the far-east side to Voices, a local not-for-profit that works with youth, for $550,000. One commissioner was absent.

The vote comes three days after a Marion County judge granted the district an exemption from a state law that requires districts to offer closed school buildings to charter schools for $1. For some time, that law has caused tension between IPS and some in the charter sector, as IPS has closed schools while charter school enrollment has grown.

Before the vote, a crowd of parents, students, and others urged the school board to work collaboratively with charter schools under the “Better Together” campaign. The campaign includes groups supportive of education reform, such as EmpowerEd Families.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, meanwhile, has tried to stop the sale through an emergency motion to stay the ruling as he appeals the decision. As of Thursday, the trial court had not granted that stay, according to online court records.

The sale of Bellamy is not final, however, and still has to go through a formal process with a closing date of Nov. 30.

IPS objected to Rokita’s attempt to stop the sale in a court filing on Thursday, arguing that doing so would harm IPS and taxpayers.

The district indicated that there’s no real downside to selling the school while the legal battle plays out, as far as IPS is concerned. If an appeals court ultimately finds the district in violation of the $1 law, state law would require the proceeds of the sale to go to nearby charter schools, the district noted in its filing.

The state has not provided any evidence that a charter school actually wants to acquire either School 102 or Raymond Brandes School 65—another closed school the district wants to sell—IPS also said in its filing.

However, last year several charter schools expressed interest in taking over schools that IPS planned to close.

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

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7 thoughts on “IPS board authorizes sale of Francis Bellamy School 102 amid legal battle with Indiana AG

  1. Why does Rokita need to weigh in on this issue? IPS should be free to do whatever benefits Indianapolis the most with their facilities. The push for charters is only eroding the quality of IPS which is the backbone of our community. Public education must be a priority. Too many charters have taken financing away from IPS and then failed both their students and financially. The push for charters must be controlled much better than currently.

  2. Rokita is a publicity hound, looking for the next legal fight to get his name mentioned, whether his actions advance any public good is irrelevant to him. Remember his 40+ votes in the House to repeal Obamacare and deny insurance coverage to our most needy and vulnerable citizens. He could get some good publicity for apologizing 40+ times for those votes.

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