Charter School to Close Amid Cheating Allegations

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Flanner House Elementary Charter School in Indianapolis will close next month after allegations of cheating on ISTEP exams. An investigation by the Indiana Department of Education found issues including adult handwriting in student answers and students being given questions ahead of the exams.

August 21, 2014

News Release

Indianapolis, Ind. -- Mayor Greg Ballard today accepted the decision of the Flanner House Elementary Charter School Board of Directors to surrender its charter and close the school effective September 11, 2014. The Mayor's Office of Education Innovation, last year, began an investigation of Flanner House Elementary after the school showed extraordinarily high gains in 2013 and 2014 ISTEP testing results. The Mayor's Office notified the Indiana Department of Education of its preliminary investigation results and requested further state investigation.

On August 18, 2014, the Indiana Department of Education released the findings of its investigation. Among other things, the report found:

-The school's 2013 ISTEP+ tests showed an unusually high number of changes from wrong to right answers.

-Adult handwriting was repeatedly found in student answers of the 2013 test.

-Students were given test questions before administration of the 2014 ISTEP test.

-Teachers revised and edited student responses to real ISTEP questions prior to administering the 2014 test.

-Flanner House Elementary failed to follow several testing security procedures.In particular, it was found that 2013 Testing Integrity Agreements were forged.

The Indiana Department of Education has invalidated the Flanner House Elementary Charter School ISTEP+ results from the 2013 and 2014 academic years and stripped the school of its Four Star School Award. The City and State are also referring information from their investigations to the Marion County Prosecutor's Office to determine whether criminal charges may be warranted.

"Cheating simply will not be tolerated in our schools," said Mayor Greg Ballard. "I support the decision by the Flanner House Elementary Charter School Board of Directors to close this school. Our team is now squarely focused on helping the students and families at Flanner House Elementary quickly find another high-quality public, private or charter school."

The Mayor's Office of Education Innovation and Flanner House Elementary will hold informational meetings with parents tonight and Friday from 3:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. at the school. Next week an enrollment fair will be held with nearby public, private, parochial, and charter schools so parents can get more information and enroll their child. The Office of Education Innovation is also assigning a full-time staff person to Flanner House Elementary to assist parents in the transition process and ensure the safe and timely transfer of student records.

Source: Office of Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard

August 21, 2014

Statement From United Way of Central Indiana President Ann Murtlow detailing the distinction between Flanner House Elementary School and Flanner House Inc.

"We are saddened to hear of academic misconduct at Flanner House Elementary School. Our concern is for the children who have been served by this institution and their placement in other schools.

It is important to note that despite their co-location, Flanner House Elementary School and Flanner House, Inc. are separate and distinct organizations. Flanner House, Inc., a community center with a long history of service to families in Indianapolis, is critical to the well-being and vitality of the near-Westside. Flanner House, Inc. remains an important United Way of Central Indiana agency, and we stand in full support of their work."

Source: United Way of Central Indiana Inc.