Could Harding High School Become A Charter School?

By John W. Davis
By Maureen Mespell

February 17, 2011 Updated Feb 18, 2011 at 12:26 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Is it possible to turn Harding High School into a charter school by this fall?

That idea was mulled over by community members, including a group of local pastors, Thursday night at a Community Informational Meeting at Harding High School.

"If the teachers are given the resources and tools, I believe they can help the kids pass," said Harding Parent Nina Newson. "Even something as simple as a study hall, where there are tutors, to help the kids that are struggling. Just changing their curriculum just so that it works to better fit the student body and that has not be done here."

Right now, Harding is slated to close and re-open in 2012, as a College & Career Academy Magnet High School.

Current and would-be Harding students are being transferred to the district's other four high schools.

East Allen County Schools Vice President Reverend Stephen Terry was granted permission to mail an invitation to Harding parents and students.

However, at the meeting, Board Vice President Terry took off his school board hat.

Terry said he was going to do something he does every Sunday, become Reverend Stephen Terry and preach.

Terry passionately told the crowd of about 75 parents, students and community members, "nobody is going to give us anything."

He went on to say, that if parents rally, and convince the East Allen County Schools Board that they want the board to sponsor a charter school for Harding students, that idea, can quickly become reality.

A Charter Organizer Meeting for Harding parents and community members is scheduled for Monday, February 21, 2011 at 5 p.m.

The meeting will be held at the old Southeast YMCA on Wierling Road in Fort Wayne.

Terry and other community leaders said they want to model the Harding Charter after the Thea Bowman Leadership Academy in Gary, Indiana.

One community member chimed in that the management organization that runs the Bowman Leadership Academy would want the school to have less than 800 students, so "kids don't get lost in the shuffle."

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Meanwhile, Parents For Quality Education In 2010, a group made up of Harding parents received what they are calling good news.

"We received notification from the U.S. Department of Education that they are going to begin investigating the racial discrimination complaint that we filed back in December," said Parents For Quality Education In 2010 Spokesperson Condra Ridley.

The basis of that racial discrimination complaint surrounds the East Allen County Schools redesign plan.

Parents For Quality Education in 2010, will hold an organizational meeting Sunday, February 20, 2011 from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m., at the Allen County Public Library in Downtown Fort Wayne.

Parents cited in the complaint said, the EACS transition plan disproportionately affects African-American, Burmese and other minority students, by closing Harding and busing the affected students to predominantly white schools.




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