THIS IS A MAJOR, BREAKING STORY. CLICK BACK FOR UPDATES. NEW AUDIO FROM AFTERNOONS WITH AMOS ADDED. UPDATES FROM PARENTS MEETING AND FROM CITY!
UPDATE, SUNDAY, AUG 24 – 4PM – The City’s Office of Educational Innovation, the office that supervises the Mayor’s Charter Schools, has announced a couple of important items for families of Flanner House Charter School students and the community to know. This Tuesday and Wednesday Parent Fair August 26th & 27th where parents of students at Flanner House Charter can find out information about schools for their children to attend will now be held at Family Center at Watkins Park, adjacent to Flanner House. Times of the Fair are this Tuesday from 7:00am to 1:00pm and this Wednesday from 1:00pm to 7:00pm. Parents of Flanner House Charter students who have ANY questions are asked to go on line to the website http://oei.indy.gov or call Jackie Gantzer at 503-7799 or Tamra Wright at 281-5817.
UPDATE, FRIDAY, AUG 22 – 6PM – Community reaction was uniformly negative to the announcement of the Closure of the Flanner House Elementary Charter School. On Afternoons with Amos, State Rep. Vanessa Summers and St Senator Greg Taylor who represents the area served by the school appeared on the program with their views and to hear community concerns. Summers and Taylor strongly feel that the school should not have been closed. That Mayor Greg Ballard should have worked with the School’s Board to keep the school open. That was the recommendation of the Indiana Department of Education. Listeners weighed in with strong views. Especially critical of the impact the school’s closing will have on children. Late Friday afternoon, during a second meeting with the school’s parents, attended by Deputy Mayor for Education Jason Kloth and top Ballard Administration officials, parents weren’t buying Kloth and school board members’ reasons for closing. In a surprise during the meeting, Board Chair Pat Roe said that she was “looking for a legal way” to keep the school open. Meanwhile, outside the school’s entrance, there were numerous student made signs are attached to light poles, signs and doors begging, pleading that “their school” remain open. Click the Media Player Below To Hear Rep. Summers, Sen. Taylor and Community Express Strong Feelings over the Flanner House Charter Situation.
THE FULL STORY FROM THE START – This whole situation began with the unprecedented action, in the wake of an unparalleled breakdown of integrity, the Board of Directors of the Flanner House Elementary Charter School has voted to close. The decision, made at an emergency board meeting August 20th was in the wake of a decision by the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) to invalidate the charter school’s 2013 and 2014 ISTEP test results for the school’s third through eighth grade students.
Investigations by both IDOE and the City of Indianapolis’ Office of Educational Innovation (OEI) determined that teachers and other staff at Flanner House Elementary Charter School had engaged in activities where adults provided students with answers to the ISTEP tests in advance; wrote in answers to essays on s essays that were to be written by students, participating in assisted students with changing their answers on answer sheets or in some instances changing the answers themselves. The investigations by both the State and City also uncovered instances where the security and integrity of the testing materials was compromised. With teachers and staff having access, in advance to test material and questions and sharing that information with students. The investigation also uncovered and raised questions about the integrity and security of top officials of the school, including the school’s principal. The investigations first began after Flanner House Elementary scored unprecedented gains in the 2013 ISTEP tests. Going from 53.2% of the school’s students passing both ISTEP English/Language Arts (ELA) and Math in 2012, to a stunning 95.3% the following year in 2013. This year, the number fell back to 56.5% passing both sections; but investigators opened up a probe this year when Flanner House officials reported a possible security breach during this year’s testing with information that the school’s Testing Coordinator, Angie Hood, had been providing students with ISTEP test info in advance. After being presented with the results of both the state and city’s investigation, the Board of Flanner House Charter School voted, five to one, to close the school effective September 11th. Flanner House Charter School was one of the first charter schools created in Indianapolis. It was Chartered by Mayor Bart Peterson in 2002 and is now the responsibility of Mayor Greg Ballard. In a statement, Mayor Ballard accepted the decision of the school’s Board of Directors to surrender its charter and close. Said the Mayor, “Cheating simply will not be tolerated in our schools. Our team is now squarely focused on helping the students and families at Flanner House Elementary quickly find another high-quality public, private or charter school.” The City’s OEI and the school will hold informational meetings with parents tonight and Friday from 3:30pm to 6:30pm at the school. Next week an enrollment fair will be held with nearby public, private, parochial, and charter schools so parents can get more information and enroll their child. OEI is also assigning a full-time staff person to Flanner House Elementary to assist parents in the transition process and ensure the safe and timely transfer of student records. The Flanner House Elementary Charter operates separately from the Flanner House of Indianapolis, Inc., a venerable institution which has served Indianapolis’ African-American community as a community center for 116 years. Flanner House of Indianapolis is in NO WAY connected with the charter school or had any responsibility or knowledge of the wrongdoing found by investigators. Flanner House of Indianapolis has operated a preschool for years. A preschool that has the highest quality ratings from the State and the United Way. Flanner House is a longtime United Way Agency. United Way of Central Indiana President/CEO Ann Murtlow said, “Flanner House, Inc., a community center with a long history of service to families in Indianapolis, is critical to the well-being and vitality of the near-Westside. Flanner House, Inc. remains an important United Way of Central Indiana agency, and we stand in full support of their work.” In 2005, another independent charter school bearing the Flanner House name, the Flanner House Higher Learning Center, had its charter revoked by Mayor Peterson after an investigation found falsification of student attendance records, falsification of attendance records, graduating students who hadn’t met required state graduation standards. Back in June 2012, Afternoons with Amos broadcast live from the school after learning that the school’s third graders had the worst scores in the state on the IRead third grade reading test, but the same students had done well on ISTEP. During that program, Brown talked with Angie Hood, Flanner House’s Title I teacher. State and City investigators found that Hood, shown in the photo above, allegedly played a major role in providing students with questions and answers on the ISTEP tests this year.CLICK TO READ KEY DOCUMENTS IN FLANNER HOUSE ELEMENTARY ISTEP CHEATING SCANDAL Memo From Indiana Dept Education to City Regarding State Investigation Of Flanner House Elem REVISION Memo From City OEI to IDOE Concerning 2013 ISTEP Possible Cheating REVISION Memo From City OEI to IDOE Concerning 2014 ISTEP Possible Cheating Memo From City OEI to Chair Flanner Hse Elem Charter Board
During a special Afternoons with Amos hour, Indiana Department of Education Spokesman Daniel Altman explained the state’s investigation and what “invalidation” of ISTEP scores really means. Altman was asked the reaction of State Superintendent Glenda Ritz to the scandal and was asked would Supt. Ritz be willing to send a letter to Flanner House students saying they weren’t the cause of their school closing. Veteran education reporter Scott Elliott of Chalkbeat Indiana joined Amos to bring perspective of the problem of adults cheating on students standardized tests and the issues involved in the Flanner House Elementary situation. Wilber Buckner, Executive Director of Flanner House of Indianapolis, Inc., talked with Amos and listeners about the complete separation between the venerable community center and the now troubled elementary school. Listeners weighed in with their views on the scandal and the issues it poses. After the show Amos visited Flanner House Elementary and peeked into the Parents Meeting with the School’s Board. Amos describes the meeting as somber and intense with strong emotion and anger from parents. Click the Media Player to Hear Thurs, Aug 21st & Friday, August 22nd Special Afternoons with Amos Programs on the Scandal at Flanner House Elementary Charter. ©2014 WTLC/Radio One.
Friday, Aug 22nd. Runs 80 Minutes – Thurs, Aug 21st Runs 50 Minutes