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Flanner House Charter School to Close Amid ISTEP Cheating Allegations

Probe: Teachers changed wrong answers, rewrote parts of essays themselves

An Indianapolis charter school will close next month, after an investigation found teachers helped students cheat on the last two ISTEP exams.

Flanner House Elementary School's board voted to close the school after city and state investigations concluded teachers changed answers, gave students questions in advance, and in some cases wrote essay answers themselves.

Mayor Greg Ballard says the city's Office of Education Innovation will work with parents to help them choose new schools before Flanner House closes its doors September 11. The city will hold meetings with parents at the school Thursday and Friday. Next week, public and private schools and other charter schools will take part in an enrollment fair to help parents review their options.

Ballard says the city launched an investigation almost immediately after the release of last year's ISTEP scores, then asked the Indiana Department of Education to investigate further. That inquiry concluded nearly half Flanner House's exams had had dozens of wrong answers erased and changed to correct ones. The department says Flanner House staffers couldn't offer any legitimate instructional reason for the abrupt turnaround in scores.

Ballard says he "probably" would have revoked the school's charter if the board hadn't pulled the plug first.

The city and state are forwarding their investigations to Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry to assess whether criminal charges are warranted.

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