Two Indianapolis Public Schools might never have been taken over by the state if then-Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett had offered the district the same flexibility he granted a year later to the Christel House Academy charter school.
The issue was similar in both cases. Christel House had recently added ninth and 10th grades, and IPS’ Howe and Arlington had added middle school grades. The students who filled those seats posted poor enough scores to drag down the schools’ overall ratings.
In the case of Christel House, emails unearthed by The Associated Press show Bennett’s staff sprung into action in 2012 when it appeared scores from the recently added grades could sink the highly regarded school’s rating from an A to a C. Ultimately, the high school scores were excluded and the school’s grade remained an A.
But in 2011, after IPS’ then-Superintendent Eugene White demanded Bennett consider the test scores of high school students separately from those of middle school students so the high schools could avoid state takeover, Bennett was unmoved.
Neither Bennett, a Republican champion of charter schools who is now Florida’s education commissioner, nor White, who left IPS this year, could be reached for comment for this story. But one IPS School Board member expressed concern about potential unequal treatment.
“Wow,” said board member Michael Brown after he was briefed on the accommodations made for Christel House. “It looks like everyone wasn’t playing by the same rules.” . . .