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GARY — Six of the eight Drexel Foundation Board members agreed to resign Monday night to pave the way to improve Thea Bowman Leadership Academy.

However, the board passed a resolution at its Monday night board meeting to appoint a new five-member board to serve before half a dozen people leave effective March 31.

The two board members who will remain on the board are Drexel Foundation President Keisha White and board member James Harris. Those stepping down are Shelley Fisher, Bishop Dale Cudjoe, Rose Marie Banks, attorney W. Ben Sims, and founders former Gary Mayor Thomas Barnes and retired teacher Anne Thompson.

The Drexel Foundation holds Bowman's charter and oversees policies and procedures.

The issues arose when Ball State asked the Drexel Foundation to address 17 issues, including governance issues, a year ago and renewed its charter for only one year; renewals can range from one year to five years.

Earlier this year, Ball State said it would not renew the charter because the foundation had not addressed those critical governance issues, which included asking board members to step down and asking them to set term limits.

Ball State and the bond holder, which owns the new high school building, had both asked for all board members to step down.

Foundation members refused, and Ball State ultimately said it would not renew the authorization.

White said the Drexel Foundation appealed, then withdrew its request for an appeal to Ball State, which would have been heard Monday. It will lose Ball State authorization effective June 30.

Instead, board members are planning to have the Thea Bowman Leadership Academy partner with Indianapolis-based Phalen Leadership Academies and will seek authorization through the Indiana Charter School Board.

Barnes said he doesn't think the public understands the commitment it takes to be on a board. He said board members pay to be on the board instead of receiving any sort of stipend. He said when the board first began, each member was required to pay $3,000 a year. That figure has since been reduced, but board members still pay a small amount.

He offered special thanks to Thompson, saying if it hadn't been for her Thea Bowman may not have become a reality.

Thompson said though she may be off the board, she will still be willing to help the charter school.

Some parents at the meeting questioned why all board members didn't step down. The board made no response.


Southlake County Reporter

Carmen is an award-winning journalist who has worked at The Times newspaper for 20 years. Before that she also had stints at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., The Post-Tribune and The News Dispatch in Michigan City.