Marion County Judge orders Gary schools, EdisonLearning to cooperate

2012-07-30T17:00:00Z 2012-07-31T08:35:04Z Marion County Judge orders Gary schools, EdisonLearning to cooperateBy Carmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

INDIANAPOLIS | A Marion County judge ordered the Gary Community School Corp. and EdisonLearning Inc. to work out their differences.

EdisonLearning, the management company selected by the Indiana Department of Education to operate the failing Gary Roosevelt College and Career Academy for the next four years, filed a lawsuit against the district saying the school system was withholding vital student records. The company also said the two needed to work out transportation and maintenance issues.

Marion Superior Court Judge John Hanley took the case under advisement and told the two to resolve the issues by the end of the week.

Todd McIntire, EdisonLearning's senior vice president, said a meeting has been scheduled Tuesday with EdisonLearning and Gary school officials.

"Lawyers are to submit their paperwork by the end of the week if we haven't settled the case by then," McIntire said. "We're going in with optimism and hopefulness. Our goal is to make sure the school facility is ready to open and we have the materials to do that on Aug. 15. We hope to resolve all issues (Tuesday) so we can move forward. The records (we received July 25) were incomplete, and we'd like them in an electronic format."

Gary attorney Robert Lewis, who represents the school corporation, said there were a number of issues including the records and proper venue, saying the case should not have been filed in Marion County. Edison officials have said it was filed there because the management company essentially represents the Department of Education and its lawyers are in Indianapolis.

Lewis said "transportation and maintenance" are not issues because the district is aware of its legal obligations.

Sarita Stevens, spokeswoman for the Gary Community School Corp., said one reason student records weren't initially released is because EdisonLearning had not yet signed the contract with the state, and the school corporation feared a violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

"We spent the whole day in court when we should be in our district getting ready for the start of school," she said. "There is nothing stopping them from opening school on time. We did not impede their process. In fact, the new superintendent has been very open and meets with them regularly."

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