SOUTH BEND — All eyes will be on Riley High School on Wednesday. After six straight years on academic probation, state education officials are ready to put Riley supporters to the test.
Members of the community will have one last chance on Wednesday to sell their school to State Superintendent Tony Bennett. The Indiana State Board of Education will hold a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Riley High to allow the community to speak out in favor of Riley.
The community needs to convince Bennett their school is on a path toward success.
"I’m hoping when he sees the community outpouring of support for the schools, when he hears from the board and the administration, that he'll be convinced that it's not a good idea for the state to take over our schools," said Roger Parent, the South Bend School Board president.
The same hearing will be held for Washington and South Bend Alternative High Schools in June.
These hearings are legally required by the state before a possible intervention.
Parent sent Bennett a letter last week saying the South Bend School Corporation has made significant improvements, such as implanting an 8-step program in their schools.
Parent feels a state takeover would cause the community to lose confidence in the school system. A system which he says is rapidly improving.
“We’re on a course to create a world class school district, to get a first class education for all our students,” Parent said. “I think it would be detrimental to that effort for the state to take any one of our schools over."
Parent said only the community and the board knows what is best for the students.
"I don't believe the state or any agency they hire would do a better job than we can at this point in time.”
In a statement sent to WSBT, Bennett said he's excited to witness change first hand.
“I look forward to learning about the progress made on behalf of South Bend’s students,” he said. “Tomorrow’s public hearing at Riley High School is a powerful opportunity for the South Bend community. The purpose of these public hearings is to gather public comment on how the state can best help the school and serve its students. They are an important part of this process and we hope to hear from as many people as possible.”.
After the public hearings, and after state test scores come back in late July, the State Board of Education will determine if any of the schools require an intervention.
If any of schools face a takeover, there are five possible solutions to get schools back on track.
- Merging the school with a nearby school that is in a higher category of school improvement and performance.
- Assigning a special management team to operate all or part of the school.
- Implementing the Department of Education's recommendations for improving the school.
- Implementing other options for school improvement expressed at the public hearing, including closing the school.
- Revising the school's improvement plan in any of the following areas: Changes in school procedures or operations, professional development and intervention for individual teachers or administrators.
The hearing for the South Bend’s alternative high school will be at 4:30 p.m. June 23 at the school.
Washington High School's hearing will be at 7 p.m., on June 23 as well.