Jobs on the line for principals at failing schools

WLFI File Photo
WLFI File Photo

HAMMOND, Ind. (AP) — Principals at many Indiana schools that scored a D or an F in the state’s accountability system are getting pink slips or being notified that their jobs are in jeopardy.

The Indiana Department of Education has been hosting accountability meetings across the state with leaders of low-performing schools and instructing them on how to meet state and federal guidelines.

Schools that received a D for one year are deemed a focus school. Those that received an F for one year or a combination of two D grades or a D and an F in consecutive years are considered priority schools, The Times in Munster reported.

At least five principals in School City of Hammond have been told they will lose their jobs. Four elementary and secondary principals in the Gary Community School Corp. have been told their jobs are at risk.

Other principals in low-performing schools may keep their jobs if the district attests to their ability to lead a turnaround.

Indiana’s school accountability law calls for schools that perform poorly for six straight years to be taken over by the state and become a turnaround academy. Former state schools Superintendent Tony Bennett used the law in 2011 to take over seven schools.

Hammond schools Superintendent Walter Watkins told administrators, teachers and school board members in a letter that his district was being hurt by issues that the state accountability formula doesn’t factor in.

“It is unfortunate that our corporation, with its many successes, is being held accountable by a system that does not take into consideration the complex issues we deal with on a day-to-day basis. Poverty, transiency, high numbers of English-language learners and special needs,” he wrote.

Hanover Community School Corp. Superintendent Tom Taylor said officials in his district are working on a student achievement plan for the middle school, which received a D.

“We were marked down for growth, not achievement,” he said.

He said the district doesn’t believe the school warranted a D and that there is “a certain stigma” attached to the grade.

“We are trying to move forward and get our kids to grow in spite of all that,” he said.

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