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The IPS sale of Francis Bellamy School 102 was put on hold because of Todd Rokita’s lawsuit



Indianapolis, Indiana – The board of Indianapolis Public Schools decided to proceed with the sale of Francis Bellamy School 102 despite the ongoing legal dispute over whether the district has to sell it to charter schools for $1.

However, that sale was halted in a day.

The Far Eastside school will be sold for $550,000 to VOICES, a local group that works with youth after the school board voted 6-0 on Thursday. Not present was one commissioner.

The district was granted an exemption from a state statute requiring districts to sell closed school facilities to charter schools for $1, by Marion County Judge Heather Welch, three days before to the vote. Due to IPS’s closure of schools and the increase in charter school enrollment, there has been conflict between IPS and some members of the charter community for a while.

Attorney General Todd Rokita filed an emergency motion with Welch on Friday, asking her to stay her judgment and halt the sale while Rokita appeals it. Welch granted the motion.

The school board stated in a statement that it is trying to get clarification on what the stay means.

“We will continue to advocate for our facilities to be repurposed in ways to meet the needs of our community, as is the case for our agreement with VOICES Corp.,” the board said.

A large group of parents, kids, and other supporters pushed the school board to collaborate with charter schools as part of the “Better Together” campaign before to the board’s vote on Thursday. Organizations like EmpowerEd Families, which are in favor of education reform, are part of the campaign.

In a court filing on Thursday, IPS resisted Rokita’s request to halt the transaction, claiming that doing so would be detrimental to both IPS and taxpayers.

According to the district, as far as IPS is concerned, there really isn’t any harm in selling the school while the lawsuit is pending. The district stated in its lawsuit that state law would mandate the revenues of the sale to go to neighboring charter schools if an appeals court ultimately deems the district in breach of the $1 law.

IPS also stated in its lawsuit that the state has not produced any proof that a charter school genuinely wishes to purchase School 102 or Raymond Brandes School 65, another defunct school the district wishes to sell.

However, a number of charter schools indicated interest in assuming control of the schools that IPS intended to terminate last year.

Amelia Pak-Harvey writes for Chalkbeat Indiana, covering schools in Lawrence Township and Indianapolis. Amelia’s email address is [email protected].




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