Indianapolis approves two new charter schools to help at-risk youth

School to open in juvenile detention center

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indianapolis Charter School Board approved two new charter schools that many hope will help the city’s at-risk youth.

The board approved plans to move forward with Francis Marion Academy at a meeting Monday evening.

Leaders at Francis Marion Academy will open a school inside the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center to serve offenders.

The board also approved a plan to replicate the Indianapolis Lighthouse charter school on the city’s northeast side. That school will be geared toward ex-juvenile offenders and students who have been suspended or expelled from other schools.

Supporters said both schools will serve the underserved. Developers of Francis Marion Academy want to teach students inside the detention center while Indianapolis Lighthouse East will give students access to an educational plan that experts say is working well in the nation’s capital.

"I believe that Lighthouse is a good school mainly because of the teachers, because at a big high school, they just want you do to your work and call it a day, but at Lighthouse we have tutoring Tuesday and Thursday," graduate DeWayne Johnson said.

The Lighthouse south-side campus reported test scores above Indianapolis Public Schools and state averages.

"I needed somewhere for my son to go that cared about their education, and they care about their education," parent LaTasha Bats said.

In the fifth and final stage of the application process, the board expressed some reservations about the charter school for juvenile offenders and its ability to meet state and federal education guidelines -- but both schools were eventually given the green light to move forward.

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