INDIANAPOLIS — The Pike Township school board announced Thursday that the district is parting ways with Superintendent Dr. Flora Reichanadter and that Assistant Superintendent of Operations Dr. Larry Young will fill in for the rest of the school year.
The decision came as a surprise to many, since the action item was not on the agenda prior to Thursday’s meeting. Reichanadter held the position since 2017.
“They really had not been transparent at all and this was the first time we heard anything regarding the status of the superintendent,” said Alexandra Hall, a Pike Township parent.
The district’s decision to part ways with the superintendent comes after growing tension between school leaders, teachers, bus drivers and parents.
In November, an online petition was started by parents calling for the removal of Reichanadter as superintendent after concerns over teacher pay and her management in the district. It currently has more than 2,800 signatures, but organizers plan to take it down soon.
A month later, the president of the Pike Classroom Teachers Association announced a vote of no confidence in her leadership after months of contentious negotiations for a new contract. The one-year agreement was later ratified in mid-December.
The district has also struggled to hold in-person learning since the beginning of the school year due to transportation issues and staff absences.
“We are relieved that part of everything is over. It’s a little surreal, to be honest, because we’ve been pushing for so long and I don’t know that any of us actually thought this is what the outcome would be,” said Jennifer Rubenstein, another Pike Township parent.
Rubenstein is one of the parents who helped create the online petition. She said she is hoping the district will come up with a plan to heal and rebuild, saying many teachers and families have since left.
“Our hope and goal is that this a step in the right direction, but unfortunately, I really hate to say it’s completely a fresh slate,” Rubenstein said.
Young will hold the position as interim for the rest of the school year. He’s also a Pike graduate.
“I think Dr. Young is a Pike graduate through and through,” Hall said. “Pike has over 10,000 students in the system and the vast majority of these are students of color. So, to have a Black man who is a graduate of the district and who still has children enrolled in the district, I think that speaks volumes.”
Both Hall and Rubenstein believe it’s going to take some time to rebuild trust among the school community. They hope to see more transparency and communication.
“Are we going to have communication and is there a plan?” Rubenstein said.
The district will start a search for a new superintendent soon. Hall said parents and students should have a voice in the final decision.
“We understand more than ever that we have to be engaged if we want things to change. We can’t just sit back and depend on other people to do it for us,” Hall said.
This year, three seats on the school board are up for reelection.
Also, the superintendent’s contract says the board can terminate the agreement with a 30 days notice. The district must also pay either a year of compensation or half of the compensation due for the rest of the term of the contract, whichever is greater.
Reichanadter signed a contract on Oct. 14, 2021 that was scheduled to end on June 30, 2024. The base pay was $206,907 and included other bonuses and benefits. 13News asked the district if it is paying anything in this case, but has not heard back.