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Judge: Gary district must repair school's heating

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Monday, January 28, 2013 - 7:41 am

GARY — The Gary Community School Corp. must repair the heating system at a privately operated turnaround school by Monday under a temporary restraining order issued by a judge after three days of canceled classes.

However, Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt said the school corporation properly repaired the heating system at Roosevelt College and Career Academy and that operator EdisonLearning Inc. caused damage to the school and the loss of class time.

Roosevelt last held classes on Tuesday, when temperatures inside were in the 40s. Some water pipes burst during frigid weather last week, sending water leaking through ceiling tiles and into offices and classrooms.

Marion Superior Court Judge Cynthia Ayers in Indianapolis issued the order Friday, citing a state law that makes the district responsible for maintaining Roosevelt in a manner consistent with its other schools, the Post-Tribune reported.

"GCSC has failed to carry out these responsibilities," Ayers wrote in the order sought by EdisonLearning.

The order requires the school corporation to maintain a temperature of 68 degrees in all areas of the building. It also calls for the immediate removal of standing water throughout the school from the burst pipes.

Roosevelt is one of five academically troubled Indiana schools taken over by the state last year and turned over to private operators. EdisonLearning has a four-year contract with the Indiana Department of Education to operate Roosevelt, but the school corporation still owns the building.

Pruitt said the school corporation has spent millions of dollars and manpower "holding EdisonLearning's hand to make sure Roosevelt opens every school day."

"When we were informed about the heat situation, we sent our maintenance personnel to investigate the problem," Pruitt said. "We were advised that the building should have been open for school because the heat was repaired on Wednesday.

"We have since learned that the maintenance person EdisonLearning hired did not check to make sure water was in the boilers or turn the boilers on, which caused pipes to burst," she said.

Pruitt said EdisonLearning should be held accountable.

"EdisonLearning continues to fail the students and the community by not taking ownership of how it has caused numerous problems in the building affecting taxpayer dollars and student achievement," she said.

A telephone recording on the school's main number Sunday said the school had remained closed Friday and that parents would be notified when classes would resume.