Indiana 'Authorizer Shopping' Restrictions Face First Test
Two Indiana laws intended to prevent failing charter schools from escaping closure or accountability through finding another sponsor could face their first test soon.
Thea Bowman Leadership Academy in Gary, one of the state’s oldest charter schools, is set to lose its charter this summer after sponsor Ball State University declined to renew it -- citing an ongoing lack of governance and fiscal concerns.
But the foundation managing the two Thea Bowman schools opted to not appeal, instead partnering with Indianapolis-based Phalen Leadership Academy to seek a new charter from the Indiana Charter School Board so it can continue operating -- a move they say is not the controversial practice known as “authorizer shopping.”
It’s a complex situation, say those involved, that combines politics, policy interpretations and the first application of two bipartisan laws -- including one that gives final approval of a charter sponsor switch to the State Board of Education.