Charter school organizers will get a second chance

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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - The charter school foundation aiming to move into Broad Ripple High School ducked a knockout punch Tuesday afternoon.

The Indiana Charter School Board started out with a recommendation to deny the application. But after 90 minutes of questions, answers and criticism, the board decided on a do-over, a second chance in November.

Him by Her Foundation founder Harry Dunn treated the setback as a win.

“I could not be more excited for the opportunity for success and that’s what we have here is an opportunity for success,” he said.

The group proposes to open the Collegiate School for the Arts in the soon-to-be-closed Broad Ripple High School.

Along with a variety of classes there would be vocational training, a healthcare clinic, mental health counseling, legal advice and other social and career services. Some, planners say, would provide jobs and internships for students.

But the board determined the lofty goals lacked important details about curriculum, teacher certification and optimistically-high enrollment projections.

“In addition, there were a number of issues with the proposed budget," said James Betley, the board’s executive director. “For these reasons, the staff is recommending the board decline the application.”

The school would reach out to underserved at-risk students, some that have been pushed out of other schools and eventually grow to more than 1,000 kindergarten through 12th grade students.

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson was among the supporters.

“The school would provide potential dropouts with the wraparound services they need to learn," Lawson testified.

Organizers argued their school would be entirely different than any other others. “We don’t check all the boxes,” testified Wanda Riesz.

However, board members decided too many boxes need checking.

“In needs a little more thought put into it,” one commented.

Supporters have until November to fill in the blanks.

Him by Her is an acronym for Helping Improve Mankind by Healing Every Race. Founder Harry Dunn is a police homicide detective.

“If we can keep young minds busy and we can keep them occupied we can put them on a path to success," Dunn said. "They won’t look back at the streets, but they need to know somebody cares.”

The board also criticized the group for relying too much on Broad Ripple High School, which is closing at the end of this school year. IPS hasn’t decided what to do with the property. The district, struggling with budget deficits, believes the property is worth millions of dollars.