Judge orders Gary to lease vacant elementary for $1 to charter school
By Christin Nance Lazerus email@example.com March 21, 2013 10:20PM
Updated: April 23, 2013 2:25PM
Lake County Superior Court Judge John Sedia ordered the Gary Community School Corp. to immediately lease Ernie Pyle Elementary School building for $1 to LEAD College Preparatory Charter.
The order Wednesday caps nearly a year of legal wrangling in federal and county courtrooms. In July 2011, the state allowed charter schools to lease unused public school buildings for $1. LEAD wrote to the Indiana Department of Education in November 2011 about its interest in the building, located at 2545 W. 19th Ave., and the DOE contact Gary about LEAD’s $10,000 per month offer in February 2012. But the district never responded to the offer.
In his order, Sedia said the statute offers no discretion. It reads: “The school corporation shall lease the school building to the charter school for $1.00 per year as long as the charter school uses the school building for classroom instruction ...”
It’s unclear whether LEAD will ever occupy the building since its charter was not renewed by Ball State University due to insufficient academic performance. LEAD has an appeal hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. April 3 at Ball State’s campus in Muncie. If its appeal is not approved, the school must close by June 30.
Sedia set a status hearing for 9 a.m. Dec. 2.