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Saturday, November 03, 2012

Ind. Law - More on "EACS sues to clear up confusion on sale law: Charters get 1st buy chance"

Updating this ILB entry from August 14th, Rebecca S. Green reports today in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette in a lengthy story that begins:

The Indiana Public Charter Schools Association told an Allen Superior Court judge Friday morning it would support changes to the state law it feels requires school buildings to sit unused for up to four years.

But when pressed by Superior Court Judge Nancy Boyer on whether the association would be willing to go ahead and let East Allen County Schools sell the former Monroeville Elementary School to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend for $189,000, the association said no.

Boyer posed the question to the association’s attorney Paul Ogden about halfway through the 90-minute hearing in two cases involving shuttered elementary schools in both the East Allen County Schools and Fort Wayne Community Schools districts.

In the case involving FWCS, the charter schools sued to stop the sale of the Pleasant Center Elementary School building to the Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority. It was an agreement reached before the changes to the law went into effect but was about to be made official by an airport board vote the day the association filed its lawsuit. The association said the Timothy L. Johnson Academy expressed a desire in the building, but FWCS attorneys said Friday the school has since decided on another property and merely wanted to look at the building to gauge its usefulness.

In the EACS case, the district sued the charter schools association to get a judge to weigh in on whether the district should be allowed to sell the Monroeville building to the diocese, which wanted to use it for educational purposes. Since the diocese has offered to buy the building, no existing charter school has expressed any interest in its use.

At issue is whether amendments to the Indiana law governing the sale of abandoned school buildings mean that vacant classroom buildings have to sit on a waiting list for four years providing charter schools the opportunity to claim them for $1, or whether the districts can sell the buildings under long-held state laws if no existing charter school is asking for them at the time of the sale.

Passed as part of a sweeping charter schools bill in 2011, the legislation says, “charter schools shall have access to unused school facilities owned by school corporations.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 3, 2012 10:46 AM
Posted to Indiana Law