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West Lafayette Community School Corporation suing State of Indiana

WLCSC is suing the state of Indiana over a 2011 law. The law states that a charter school can take unused public school property and lease it for just one dollar.

Posted: Sep 13, 2019 7:07 PM
Updated: Sep 13, 2019 7:15 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - West Lafayette Community School Corporation is suing the State of Indiana. Superintendent Dr. Rocky Killion said a law established in 2011 is threatening the future of the old Happy Hollow Elementary School and local taxpayers' rights.

"The school board and I are challenging the constitutionality that allows a private corporation to open up a charter school, to come in and take a community asset like, Happy Hollow Elementary School, and lease it for a dollar or lease it at the lowest cost without any due process from the taxpayers," said Dr. Killion. 

Currently, the City of West Lafayette is renting the old school temporarily, as the Morton Center is under construction.

"The legislation, in my opinion, is in appropriate, it's unconstitutional, it bypasses the local taxpayers," he said. "Local taxpayers should have the input as to what we do with local assets, not Indianapolis."

Dr. Killion said when you sue the state, by law, you have to sue the governor as well. Governor Eric Holcomb is listed as the defendant in the case.

This lawsuit was filed on Thursday. News 18 talked with a representative from Governor Holcomb's office. They said they haven't even received the lawsuit in person yet. Therefore, they are not ready to make any kind of comment at this time.

"It's nothing personal," said Dr. Killion about suing the governor.

State Representative Chris Campbell said this law brings up other causes for concern.

"The school corporation not only has to give up that asset, but they are also left with any debt that's on the building," she said.

Dr. Killion said they are not alone. Other school districts are interested in joining in on this lawsuit. Representative Campbell is an advocate for public schools support over private charter or voucher schools. She said she is happy by this move.

"Schools have stepped up and said that this is unacceptable," she said. "It's unfortunate that we have to fight our own state to say that the law they have passed is unconstitutional, but it isn't fair to the taxpayers."

Dr. Killion says they have not had any charter schools approach them about leasing the school, but that he wants to be proactive. He explained that they do have future plans for old Happy Hollow Elementary.

"We're very interested in a kindergarten center, early childhood center," he said. "But it takes time to do those things."

Time that laws like this one threaten. Now, WLCSC has to wait to see how it's litigated at the Superior Court level. Dr. Killion said the lawsuit is being paid for by a legal fund that the school corporation has.

"I hope our community will support us in this and realize that we are trying to protect a great community asset that they paid for," he said.

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