Board of Dir. President wants charter school to stay open despite cheating scandal

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Nearly one week after a cheating scandal rocked an Indianapolis Charter school, the one board member who voted to keep it open is speaking out.

The board of directors for Flanner House Elementary voted 5-1 to close the school after an investigation found some teachers were fixing ISTEP test answers.

Patricia Roe, the president of the board of directors, was the lone vote. She wouldn’t talk directly to 24-Hour News 8 or any other news station, but she did spend time talking to radio personality Amos Brown on his afternoon talk show on 1310AM.

We were allowed to sit in and listen. Roe said the principal at the school was the first to notice a possible breach in ISTEP test scores.

They then brought that information to the Mayor’s Office of Education Innovation to start the investigation, but she didn’t want to reveal that was happening to parents or the public until the investigation was conclusive.

She then said in July, the Mayor’s Office revealed they found more evidence that cheating had occurred.

Brown asked, “Did the city either directly or indirectly give you any indication that Patricia, this school is shaky and if ya’ll don’t correct this we will shut this thing down this year?” She replied saying, “It never came to me in that manner until August 18th.”

The department of education was also participating in the investigation. Roe said only after meeting with them August 18 did she realize the school could potentially close.

She also felt the Mayor’s Office pressured the board into voting the close the school.

Brown asked, “Do you feel that the mayor’s office had a gun to the head of the board, to the head of the board members? Do this or else?” She replied, “Yes, I believe that is the way the board interpreted that action.”

Roe went on to say that documents from the investigation show the cheating was isolated to the ISTEP test coordinator. She said the cheating occurred in 3rd and 4th grade, possibly in 5th, but that 6th grade was clear because the students did not interact with the coordinator.

The case was officially brought to the Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry Wednesday morning.

He said his office is reviewing the case but it is too early to tell if criminal charges could be file.

Roe her next steps include helping parents transition to a new school but also looking to see if there are ways to save the Flanner House Elementary since several parents, students, and staff want to see that happen.

The school is scheduled to close September 11.

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