Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Dropped Ball State Charter In Richmond Closes, But Others Get Second Chance

    A young boy signs his name to a poster advocating for Gary's Charter School of the Dunes to remain open. Ball State University officials have revoked the school's charter.

    Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

    A young boy signs his name to a poster advocating for Gary's Charter School of the Dunes to remain open. The school found a new sponsor in Calumet College after Ball State University declined to renew its charter.

    Summer school ended abruptly at the Kenneth A. Christmon STEMM Academy, one of seven charters sponsor Ball State University flagged for closure, after a last-ditch effort to save the Richmond school failed. The Richmond Palladium-Item‘s Louise Ronald has the story:

    The school lost its charter with Ball State University in January. An appeal of that decision was denied in May. But [School Board Chair Sabrina] Pennington said she spoke with Bob Marra, the executive director of Ball State’s Office of Charter Schools, “the very next week.”

    Pennington said Marra told her he was working on a final possibility for the school, what he called a “turnaround application.” The application arrived June 3 and had a due date of June 14.

    An accompanying letter made clear there was no guarantee the application would be accepted. “Therefore it is crucial that the charter school abides by the necessary closure procedures as a non-renewed charter school until further notice,” the letter concluded.

    “We spent an enormous amount of time doing this turnaround application,” Pennington said.

    But the school’s charter ran out June 30 without any word from Ball State.

    Attorneys for Ball State indicated the application would not be accepted, Ronald writes. About 100 students — half of the school’s population — were sent home from summer school Monday.

    But at least four of the other dropped Ball State schools will reopen next year after securing other sponsors. Calumet College agreed to sponsor Charter School of the Dunes in Gary, and the Timothy L. Johnson Academy in Fort Wayne will reopen next year under the guidance of Trine University.

    Two other Fort Wayne charters run by Imagine Schools Inc. will reopen next year as campuses of a private, religious school, Horizon Christian Academy. (Indianapolis Star reporter Scott Elliott notes that the two Imagine schools are encouraging students to apply for tuition vouchers from the state.)

    The leaves just three former Ball State schools — the other two are Imagine Indiana Life Sciences Academy East in Indianapolis and LEAD College Preparatory Charter School in Gary — that appear unlikely to reopen next year.

    But as we’ve written before, it’s hard to close a charter, especially when parents’ perception of the school doesn’t track with statewide accountability measures.


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