Gary superintendent: Overturn Roosevelt takeover
GARY — In light of the grading scandal that’s enveloped former Indiana school chief Tony Bennett, Superintendent Cheryl L. Pruitt said Thursday that the takeover of Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy should be overturned.
Bennett resigned Thursday as head of Florida’s schools, after revelations appeared in an Associated Press story that he changed the letter grade of an influential financial supporter’s charter school in Indianapolis.
Bennett, who called those reports “malicious and unfounded,” quit after calls for his resignation intensified after AP stories, bolstered by Bennett emails, showed he worked behind the scenes for days to change the algebra letter grade for Christel House from a “C” to an “A.”
The news angered local educators, especially in Gary where the school system has suffered the brunt of Bennett initiatives, including the takeover of its prized high school Roosevelt because of poor academic marks.
Pruitt said Bennett’s actions had possibly compromised and tainted the integrity of the state’s grading system.
“Public education is the equalizer and represents a tremendous opportunity for all students to succeed. The fact that this great equalizer has possibly been tampered with causes great concerns for the Gary Community School Corporation,” Pruitt said.
Based on the doubts raised by Bennett’s actions, Pruitt called for Roosevelt’s takeover last year to be scrutinized and reversed.
“Private businesses and companies have been allowed to get public money to make a profit while children have been left to fend for themselves,” Pruitt said.
Attorney Tracy Coleman said the school district will investigate its options to return Roosevelt to the district.
EdisonLearning Inc., a private education management company that donated $1,000 to Bennett’s campaign, has been running the school since last year after Bennett invoked a rarely used Indiana Department of Education accountability rule allowing the state takeover. He also ordered takeovers at four Indianapolis schools for poor academic performance.
EdisonLearning has a four-year contract with the state to run Roosevelt.