IPS Leader Wants To Sue State Over Appeal Rejection

District’s Leader Decries ‘Politically Driven View’ Of Department Of Education

Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Eugene White said he intends to sue the Indiana Department of Education and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett over the state’s decision to reject an appeal of schools that could be taken over because of poor academic performance.

In an email sent Wednesday night to school board members, White said appeals involving four of the district’s schools had been rejected and that he wants approval from the board to file a lawsuit, citing the “politically driven view of IDOE.”

“I truly believe that we need a third party’s opinion on this matter. We can not receive a fair decision from IDOE,” White wrote in the email.

The email came ahead of a planned announcement from Bennett Thursday afternoon on state intervention of six IPS schools. The Department of Education already announced Thursday morning that Edison Learning will begin operating the Theodore Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy in Gary.

The IPS appeal involved Arlington, Broad Ripple, Washington and Howe high schools. White said they had improved enough in end-course exams to be taken off a probation list that made those schools ripe for takeover. IPS did not appeal state data regarding Emma Donnan Middle School and Manual High School.

“There is a clear case of improvement on the part of our high schools that exceeds the 3 percent requirement that the other 9-12 high schools had to meet,” White wrote. “There is no justice in this matter because of the educational reform push that is more political than educational.”

All six IPS schools in question are in their sixth year of academic probation. An announcement on their status regarding state intervention was planned for 2 p.m. Intervention could range from assigning one of three private vendors to run schools, merging them with better performing schools or shutting them down.

School board members are not necessarily in favor of litigation.

“The lack of academic success at a majority of our secondary schools is your fault,” Adair-White said in response to the superintendent’s request. “Therefore, you should accept responsibility.”

Board member Annie Roof also said she won’t support litigation.

“Right now is the time to accept the IDOE and the decisions made and find a way to be as supportive as possible so the children of this city can move forward with their education,” Roof said.

If the state decides to appoint a private operator to run the schools, that won’t start until 2012.

Mary Busch, president of the school board, confirmed getting the email from White but said she won’t comment until a planned meeting Thursday night.

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