Parents, students criticize Lighthouse Academy consolidation plan

2013-02-06T22:00:00Z Parents, students criticize Lighthouse Academy consolidation planCarmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

HAMMOND | Many parents of students at East Chicago Lighthouse Charter School were angry to hear the Lighthouse Academy schools in Lake County plan to consolidate in the fall, offering one high school.

Lighthouse Academies operates three schools in Lake County — East Chicago Lighthouse Charter, Gary Lighthouse Charter and West Gary Lighthouse Charter.

Jamila Newman, Lighthouse Academy Regional director, responded Wednesday night to questions from dozens of parents who crowded the cafeteria at East Chicago Lighthouse Charter School, 6525 Kentucky Ave., Hammond.

Newman told parents the discussion about consolidation has been under way for a few years. She said the consolidation will allow the school to offer more Advanced Placement classes, more extracurricular activities and more sports.

Rhonda McClendon, of East Chicago, who has two children at the school, said she is angry about the proposed consolidation.

"How long have you known that you were going to do this?" she asked. "We could have gotten prepared for this and taken our children elsewhere. I don't want my children at a large high school."

Other parents said there was a rivalry between students from East Chicago and Gary, and they could foresee problems and fights cropping up.

Freshman Jaylan Robinson, of East Chicago, said he is in his fifth year at East Chicago Lighthouse Charter School and he doesn't agree with the consolidation.

"I believe it was just a cop-out because West Gary was going to be closed," he said.

His mother, Lisa Robinson, said she has not made a decision yet about keeping her son with Lighthouse Academies or transferring him to another school.

"I'm going to test the waters and see how it goes. If we don't like it, I'm taking him out," she said.

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