Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

July 31, 2013

Emails: GOP donor's school grade changed

Bennett scrambled to move charter school's grade from "C" to "A."

INDIANAPOLIS — Former Indiana and current Florida schools chief Tony Bennett built his national star by promising to hold “failing” schools accountable. But when it appeared an Indianapolis charter school run by a prominent Republican donor might receive a poor grade, Bennett’s education team frantically overhauled his signature “A-F” school grading system to improve the school’s marks.

Emails obtained by The Associated Press show Bennett and his staff scrambled last fall to ensure influential donor Christel DeHaan’s school received an “A,” despite poor test scores in algebra that initially earned it a “C.”

“They need to understand that anything less than an A for Christel House compromises all of our accountability work,” Bennett wrote in a Sept. 12 email to then-chief of staff Heather Neal, who is now Gov. Mike Pence’s chief lobbyist.

The emails, which also show Bennett discussed with staff the legality of changing just DeHaan’s grade, raise unsettling questions about the validity of a grading system that has broad implications. Indiana uses the A-F grades to determine which schools get taken over by the state and whether students seeking state-funded vouchers to attend private school need to first spend a year in public school. They also help determine how much state funding schools receive.

A low grade also can detract from a neighborhood and drive homebuyers elsewhere.

Bennett, who now is reworking Florida’s grading system as that state’s education commissioner, reviewed the emails Monday morning and denied that DeHaan’s school received special treatment. He said discovering that the charter would receive a low grade raised broader concerns with grades for other “combined” schools — those that included multiple grade levels — across the state.

“There was not a secret about this,” he said. “This wasn’t just to give Christel House an A. It was to make sure the system was right to make sure the system was face valid.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • More charges filed in attempted murder case

    Additional charges of criminal recklessness and pointing a firearm were filed today in the case against a 17-year-old arrested Tuesday stemming from a shooting on the city's north east side. Kokomo police arrested the teen identified as Treyshon Bank

    August 20, 2014

  • Truckers on Strike Local 135 strikes against trucking company Members of Teamsters Local Union 135 went on strike Wednesday morning against Diamond Trucking Inc. after new contract negotiations broke down Tuesday night. Thirty-eight members of Diamond Trucking, which hauls materials for Kokomo Gravel to places

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS KT 082114 Western site plan Western seeks public input on athletic facility renovations RUSSIAVILLE — For the third month in a row, the main topic of Western School Corp. board of education meeting was a face lift for school facilities. The board held two public hearings before a regular meeting Tuesday to gain input on two stages of th

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Indiana told to honor other states' gay marriages INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Indiana must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, but says the ruling doesn't take effect until the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules on the issue. U.S. District Judge R

    August 20, 2014

  • EHS Renovations 04 Eastern's $14 million renovation project nearing completion GREENTOWN – As Eastern Howard School Corp. nears the end of a two-year construction project, the majority of the $14 million renovation is not readily apparent.Much of the work has centered on replacing the heating, ventilation and air conditioning s

    August 20, 2014 4 Photos

  • SECOND UPDATE: Teen to face adult charges in Monday shooting

    A 17-year-old arrested for attempted murder Monday evening will face the charge as an adult.Treshon Banks is accused of involvement in a shooting incident near Studebaker Park off East Elm Street.A Kokomo Police Department custody report stated

    August 20, 2014

  • NWS KT 082014 Rick Rhodes Kokomo man wins Hoosier Millionaire Championship INDIANAPOLIS — Kokomo man Rick Rhodes took the top spot on Saturday night's 25th Anniversary Championship Hoosier Millionaire Show at the Indiana State Fair. Rhodes stopped short of becoming the Hoosier Millionaire Show's 192nd millionaire, but he wa

    August 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Data breach affects Dukes Memorial Hospital PERU — Dukes Memorial Hospital was one of nine Indiana hospitals affected by Monday's data breach at Community Health Systems. Community Health Systems — which is not affiliated with Community Health Network, the Indianapolis-based healthcare provide

    August 19, 2014

  • Smoking ordinance mostly unchanged heading to first reading The draft of an ordinance that would eliminate smoking in all enclosed public places largely went untouched during committee review as it heads for a first reading before the Kokomo Common Council on Monday. The ordinance didn’t come without its fair

    August 19, 2014

  • Central Indiana reservoir foes back river trails DALEVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Environmental groups are proposing a system of trails to promote use of the White River in central Indiana rather than damming it for a planned seven-mile-long reservoir. Tim Maloney of the Hoosier Environmental Council says t

    August 19, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
US Mission to Rescue Hostages in Syria Failed Manfred, Torre and MLB Take Ice Bucket Challenge Bank of America Reaches Record $17B Settlement Holder Reassures Ferguson Community With Visit GlobalPost CEO Remembers Foley As a Brave Man Seth Meyers Rolls Out Emmy Red Carpet Obama: World Is Appalled by Murder of Journalist Israel, Militants Trade Fire After Talks Fail Pres. George W. Bush Takes Ice Bucket Challenge Pierce Brosnan's Call to Join the Expendables Changes Coming to No-Fly List Raw: IDF Footage Said to Show Airstrikes Police: Ferguson More Peaceful Raw: Aftermath of Airstrike in Gaza Raw: Thousands March on Pakistani Parliament Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan Fire Crews Tame Yosemite Fire Raw: Police Weapon Drawn Near Protesters, Media Raw: Explosions in Gaza As Airstrikes Resume Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries