Stymied on sale of building, East Allen files suit

    East Allen Schools is going to court to challenge a state law that has blocked it from selling two vacant schools.
    The lawsuit filed this week in Allen Superior Court asks for a judge to clarify a law that legislators approved last year requiring public school districts to make vacant buildings available to charter schools for four years.
    East Allen officials say no charter schools have expressed interest in two former elementary school buildings near Fort Wayne that other groups have tried to buy.
    The Fort Wayne–South Bend sought to purchase the Monroeville school, closed at the end of the 2010-11 school year, last spring in the hopes of moving its St. Joseph Elementary in Monroeville into the vacant building. The diocese offered to buy the building for $189,000.
    Last June, another church came forward with interest in a closed EACS building, the former Harlan Elementary building.
    After the attempted sale of the Monroeville building, am attorney for the Indiana Public Charter Schools Association, representing Indiana’s 65 public charter schools, sent a cease-and-desist letter to the district and the diocese, threatening a lawsuit.
    Indiana charter schools association president Russ Simnick told The Journal Gazette that he believes legislators understood the issue and were specific in writing the law.
    If a vacated school building remains unclaimed for 48 months, then the district may sell or get rid of the property in other ways.