Emma Donnan, T.C. Howe and Emmerich Manual Process Update 1

After several years in state takeover status, Emma Donnan Middle School, Emmerich Manual High School and Thomas Carr Howe Community High School were returned to their home district.

On Wednesday, Jan. 15, the Indiana State Board of Education (SBOE) voted 6-2 to give the schools back to Indianapolis Public Schools.

Now, with all three schools back under the IPS family of schools, the district can move forward with its plans for Emma Donnan, Howe and Manual, which will take effect for the 2020-21 school year.

This page will provide news and updates for all three school families, staff and the community throughout the process.


Staff & Community Meetings

As additional staff and community meetings are scheduled, this section will be updated regularly with those dates, times and locations.

Timeline of Events

August 2012

The state took over Emma Donnan Middle School, and Thomas Carr Howe and Emmerich Manual high schools. Charter Schools USA (CSUSA) was chosen to operate the schools.

December 4, 2019

The SBOE directed CSUSA to apply for a charter for Emma Donnan. (The SBOE had directed CSUSA to apply for charters for Manual and Howe in March.)

December 13, 2019

Indiana Charter School Board voted to deny CSUSA charters for all three schools.

January 2020

The SOBE votes 6-2 to return Emma Donnan, Manual and Howe back to IPS control.

June 2020

The 5-year innovation agreement with CSUSA will be up for renewal. IPS administration recommended in November 2019 not to renew its innovation agreement with CSUSA.

Next Steps

The IPS Board of School Commissioners approved an Innovation Network School agreement with Christel House Academy (CHA) to serve both the current Manual students as well as transition the Christel House Academy South location and Christel House DORS South, an adult dropout recovery high school, to the Manual facilities.

The namesake of Manual will remain prominent in the school name, honoring historical legacy. Manual students can graduate with a Manual diploma and Christel House will offer interviews to all current staff with the goal of hiring as many as possible to provide continuity.

Christel House will begin conversations and interviews with Manual staff this month, and, beginning in February, will continue outreach to families and students to ensure clarity and enrollment options.

Adelante Schools is being considered as potential partners to serve Emma Donnan Elementary and Middle School as a full K-8 school.

Current students at Emma Donnan Elementary and Emma Donnan Middle School will be able to remain at the school under either Innovation Network Partner school. No students will be displaced.

The district will host a series of community meetings and information sessions, set to begin this month, to give students and families a chance to meet the applicants and provide feedback before a partner for Emma Donnan is selected in early February. This will ensure a level of stability for current students and staff.

Howe will be closed to students for the 2020-21 school year while the district, through its newly formed Howe Reuse Committee, reimagines the future of the school site. The committee will use the next year to strategically plan the best use for Howe, ensuring that feedback from a variety of stakeholders is included.

To ensure students receive an exceptional education, the IPS Board of School Commissioners recently voted to give current Howe students guaranteed enrollment in:

  • IPS’ four college-and-career Choice high schools (Arsenal Tech, George Washington, Shortridge and Crispus Attucks)
  • Rising Howe 9th graders can also enroll into Thrival Indy Academy, the district’s study abroad Innovation high school.
  • Two IPS Choice middle schools (Harshman Middle and Henry W. Longfellow Medical/STEM Middle School 28) or in the IPS middle school based on their home address.

Meet Our Potential Innovation Partners

Emma Donnan

Emma Donnan

IPS is exploring a partnership with an Innovation partner to operate Emma Donnan Elementary and Middle school as a full K–8 school:

Read more about the full Emma Donnan Process Update.

Emma Donnan, T.C. Howe and Emmerich Manual Process Update 3

Emmerich Manual High School

The district has selected Christel House Academy, an Indianapolis-based charter operator with a proven track record of success, as the preferred Innovation partner to run Emmerich Manual High School.

Learn more about Christel House Schools.

Emma Donnan, T.C. Howe and Emmerich Manual Process Update 5

Thomas Carr Howe High School

IPS is in the process of forming the Howe Reuse Committee to reimagine the future of Howe and to strategically plan the best use for the facility. Current Howe students will receive a preference to attend another IPS middle or high school of their choice for the 2020-21 school year.

Frequently Asked Questions

For Emma Donnan: IPS is planning to conduct a partner-matching process for the Emma Donnan families and communities. In this, we will guarantee that no current Emma Donnan K-8 students are displaced going into the 2020-2021 school year. Until the end of this current school year, CSUSA still manages the school. So, while IPS does not expect operations to change, all of those decisions remain up to CSUSA.

For Manual: IPS has begun crafting an Innovation partnership with Christel House Academy (CHA) to manage both Manual High School as well as its existing K-12 operations on the south side in the Manual building. As part of that, parties have already agreed to the terms that no current Manual student will be displaced. They can continue their high school career at Manual under the new management of CHA.

For Howe: The student experience should not change throughout the rest of this current school term. CSUSA will remain the operator of the school just as it has been and IPS doesn’t have any influence over the current operations. If the State Board of Education returns Howe to IPS, we will work with Howe students to make sure they are aware of their choices and options for next year and beyond, and can enroll in an IPS school of their choice as soon as possible for the 2020-21 school year.

For the rest of this current school year, CSUSA/Noble Education Initiative will continue to manage all three schools, and all staffing decisions will be up to them.

At both Emma Donnan and Manual, prospective Innovation partners for both sites are committed to ensuring every staff member has the opportunity to interview with their leadership and that minimal disruption occurs amongst the staff.

For Howe, if the school is returned to IPS, the district will offer special interviewing opportunities for staff as well as allow teachers to be on the IPS “displaced list” so they are apprised of opportunities to meet with principals who may be hiring.

All three schools will remain open and managed by CSUSA for the duration of the 2019-2020 school year. IPS is committed to keeping Manual and Emma Donnan open with Innovation Partnerships moving into 2020 and beyond and will form the Howe Reuse Committee to explore the best use for the Howe facility after the 2019-20 school year.

Returning these schools to IPS ensures that they return to being a part of the district family and schools and overall fabric that serves more than 30,000 students each day. It means that IPS will work diligently alongside community partners and families to build a plan for the most sustainable long-term future for the schools, preserving cherished community assets and placing the schools back under a locally-elected, publicly-accountable Board.

Innovation Network Schools are schools within the IPS family that are managed by a non-profit partner, but still accountable to the IPS Board of School Commissioners overall. Innovation Network Schools also have their own non-profit board, and are in a contractual arrangement with IPS.

That Innovation Agreement (contract) outlines what services IPS might provide for the school – facilities use, transportation, etc. — and the obligations of the Innovation partner to manage the school. Students in Innovation schools are included in the overall IPS count, and their results are reflected in the IPS results overall.

For Manual and Emma Donnan: Right now, you should ensure your student that things are stable and should stay consistent throughout this year and until the summer.

Next year, when they return for the next grade, they will have a different principal in the building and some of their teachers might be different. However, many of their teachers will return. There will also be chances for students and families to participate in feedback sessions and meetings to learn and share about the future of the school.

For Howe: We know this is a time of uncertainty and unknown for students, families, staff and community members. You should tell your child that for the rest of this year, things will not change. Then, connect as soon as possible with IPS opportunities to learn more about our all-Choice high school model and Choice middle schools.