Parents say Indianapolis' Howe High School is worse after state takeover

Fights, missing books major issues

INDIANAPOLIS - Gang fights, teacher turnover and students still missing books weeks into the semester are just some of the complaints coming from the parents of children at an Indianapolis high school recently taken over by the state.

Howe High School is one of five Indianapolis Public Schools now being run by turnover operators, in this case Charter School USA.

But some parents, who staged a rally in the school parking lot Saturday, said students' needs aren't being met under the new system.

"We can't let them take over our school if they're not going to run it right. It needs to be done right," one mother said.

About seven weeks into the school year and parents said students are distracted by missing books and security concerns.

"They're not getting mental stimulation, so it's just constant fighting, chaos," said parent Kelly Shaffer. "They can pick on each other. It's the biggest chaos I have ever seen in my entire life."

Florida-based Charter Schools USA wasn't represented at the rally. But in a statement to RTV6, officials said progress is being made.

"We have a longer way to go with Howe, but we will get there," the statement read. "Contrary to the rumor that there are excessive fights at Howe, the environment at the school continues to improve on a daily basis."

The explanation isn't enough for some parents who are hoping to move their children to another school.

"The decision should not be made in Florida from a company that does not know urban children," Shaffer said.

"I'm disappointed in the change we were promised over here and never received," said grandparent Robin Kirk. "I'm back on the list so may daughter can go back to the school she was at so she can get an education."

Charter Schools USA said it does not have any community meetings planned but that it does have an open-door policy for parents.

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