Judge turns up heat on Gary schools with restraining order
By Carole Carlson firstname.lastname@example.org | 648-3154 January 25, 2013 6:58PM
Updated: February 27, 2013 6:16AM
GARY — A Marion County judge granted a temporary restraining order Friday that calls for the Gary Community School Corp. to immediately complete repairs at its own expense to the heating system at the Roosevelt College and Career Academy by Monday.
However, the school superintendent on Friday night said the district properly repaired the heating system earlier in the week and that the school operator bears responsibility for damage to the facility and the loss of class time for students.
The judge’s order calls for the repairs to allow the school to maintain a temperature of 68 degrees in all areas of the building. It also calls for the immediate removal of standing water throughout the school after pipes burst during a frigid cold spell earlier in the week. Water leaked through ceiling tiles and into offices and classrooms.
Turnaround operator EdisonLearning Inc. sought the restraining order after it canceled three days of school because there wasn’t heat. The Indiana Department of Education awarded a four-year contract to EdisonLearning last year to run Roosevelt, which was identified as a failing school.
Marion Superior Court Judge Cynthia J. Ayers cited state law that calls for the school district to be responsible for maintenance of the building and grounds of the school, consistent with its maintenance on its other schools.
“GCSC has failed to carry out these responsibilities,” Ayers wrote in the order.
Repairs were under way at Roosevelt, but classes had to be canceled Friday because heat had not been restored and water had damaged ceiling tiles and pooled on floors.
Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt said Gary Community School Corp. has expended millions of dollars and manpower “holding EdisonLearning’s hand to make sure Roosevelt opens every school day.”
“When we were informed about the heat situation, we sent our maintenance personnel to investigate the problem,” she said. “We were advised that the building should have been open for school because the heat was repaired on Wednesday.
“We have since learned that the maintenance person EdisonLearning hired did not check to make sure water was in the boilers or turn the boilers on, which caused pipes to burst.”
Pruitt said EdisonLearning must be held accountable.
“EdisonLearning continues to fail the students and the community by not taking ownership of how it has caused numerous problems in the building affecting taxpayer dollars and student achievement,” she said.