Emails trigger call for school grade changes

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Educators and lawmakers alike are calling for a suspension of the state's A through F grading system following a report that says one school got favorable treatment.

The school in question is Christel House Academy on the south side, a charter school founded by philanthropist Christel DeHaan, who contributed $130,000 to Bennett's campaign. After state School Superintendent Tony Bennett learned in 2012 that the school was in line to receive a “C” grade he emailed instructions to his staff.

"They need to understand that anything less than a 'A' for Christel House," he said in one email, "compromises all of our accountability work."

The data was put through a new formula. Christel House received an “A.”

Among those calling for change now is the interim president of the Indiana Public Charter School Association.

"Everybody has their skepticism as far as if we have the perfect system in place or not," said Kevin Davis. "And it needs some work."

State Representative Cherrish Pryor (D-Indianapolis) wants the program suspended.

"In this situation, the books were cooked and grades were changed," she said. "Tony Bennett decided that we're not going to give equal opportunity to all the school systems, and that's unfortunate."

Bennett's grading system was put in place over the objections of many in the educational community and one of those who objected, Chuck Little of the Urban Schools Association, says it should now be abandoned.

"The public trust is sacred," he said, "and when it has been corrupted as so obviously this has been, it deserves no place in our government, no place in our state policy, certainly no place in our future."

Christel DeHaan says she played no role in the process that led to the new grade for Christel House Academy.

Late Tuesday afternoon state School Superintendent Glenda Ritz, the woman who defeated Bennett in the 2012 election, said that her staff is going back through the data from 2012 to make sure all schools received the grades they deserve. She also said she is working on a new accountability system.

Copyright 2014 WISH TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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I watched the lead story about Tony Bennett and the Christel House. At the end of the newscast Jim Shella assured the audience that the grade change was simply about pride and not because Christel Dehaan contributed $130 ,000 to TB's campaign. Really? He knows this how? Ask anyone in education who has watched Tony Bennett's deceitful campaign against public education and his support for charter schools and they will tell you with conviction that this was all about campaign money. Wouldn't it be nice if WISH TV and other news organizations would actually investigate the attack on public education by the Republicans and some of the Democrats! Follow the money to the educorporations, A.L.E.C.,Bill Gates, the Koch Bros. and the testing corporations, all hell-bent on profiting off of education in the US and in this state. Would love to see that happen! Most news organizations have ignored this. Why is that?!

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