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State Denies Takeover Operator’s Request For Younger Pupils

The state has turned down a plan to extend the takeover of three IPS schools all the way to fourth grade. Florida-based Charter Schools USA gets the keys to Howe and Manual High Schools and Donnan Middle School next month. But the State Board of Education vetoed the group‘s plan to add 150 fourth, fifth and sixth graders to Donnan and Howe.

State Board of Education member Neil Pickett says letting Howe and Donnan add fourth-through-sixth graders would in essence extend the state takeover to schools which haven‘t been classified as failing.

“Let them at least prove themselves that they‘re starting on the right track before we start handing over other grades that weren‘t identified in the initial plan,” he says. “I just don‘t understand why this is the first thing out of the box that‘s proposed.”

Charter Schools USA CEO Jon Hage says without access to younger students, the company will have to recalibrate the student-achievement goals it had given the state.

Hage had pleaded with the board for the expanded authority, saying the situation at the schools is twice as dire as the company believed when it took on the assignment last year.

“The student that has remained at the school will be a student that oftentimes is a student that‘s already the lowest-served student in that community,” he says. “Therefore, we believe that the hill has doubled in size.”

He says that‘s largely due to a successful IPS push to lure students away from the takeover schools.

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