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Charter school pulls ‘fruitless’ appeal

– One city charter school has decided to forgo a charter revocation appeal hearing before Ball State University officials.

Timothy L. Johnson Academy was one of three city charter schools whose charters have been revoked by sponsor Ball State. Imagine MASTer Academy and Imagine Schools on Broadway were the two other city schools whose charters were pulled. Imagine on Broadway attended its hearing Tuesday, and MASTer Academy’s hearing is set for Wednesday.

Johnson Academy’s appeal hearing was scheduled for today, but the Rev. Mike Nickleson, board president, released a statement Wednesday saying the school believed an appeal hearing would be “fruitless.”

“We feel that (Ball State) and (Johnson Academy) are at an impasse,” Nickleson said in the statement. “Our desire to serve the at-risk community cannot be met under the current authorizer, and so we respectfully choose to withdraw our appeal of their decision.”

Ball State officials have said the decision was made because the schools failed to meet certain academic standards and couldn’t demonstrate sufficient improvement. The university respects Johnson Academy’s decision not to pursue an appeal, said Joan Todd, executive director of public relations for Ball State.

The school has had difficulty achieving certain benchmarks because of the population of students it serves, Nickleson said. Nearly 99 percent of students are minorities and about 95 percent qualify for free- and reduced-price lunches, a common measure of poverty.

Nickleson said this week the school is pursuing other avenues and looking for other institutions that might be willing to serve as the school’s sponsor. The school has already asked East Allen County Schools to authorize its charter, a request the district recently denied. He said it was encouraging to learn that Calumet College of St. Joseph has agreed to authorize the Charter School of the Dunes in Gary, another Ball State charter school whose charter was pulled by the university.

“We’re in firm belief that we’ll wind up with someone who understands our goal is to serve the at-risk community,” Nickleson said.

sarah.janssen@jg.net

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