Judge: Carmel Clay Schools did not violate dollar law in not offering former elementary building to charter schools


Carmel Clay Schools did not violate the state’s dollar law after the closure of Orchard Park Elementary, according to a Jan. 4 ruling in Hamilton County court.

Indiana Classical Schools Corp., which eyed the former elementary school building as a site to open Valor Classical Academy charter school this fall, sued CCS in April 2022, stating that CCS violated state law by not offering the campus to charter schools for $1 after closing the school.

Judge J. Richard Campbell, however, sided with CCS, stating that a 2019 change in Indiana law requires school districts to offer former school buildings to charter schools only if they are vacant and unused (previously the dollar law was triggered when school buildings were no longer used for classroom instruction). He ruled that CCS demonstrated that it has been using the building since the school closed.

“We are pleased that the judge agreed that we have been lawful in the handling of the Orchard Park building and site,” CCS Supt. Michael Beresford stated. “We look forward to the continued use of the building to best serve the students of Carmel Clay Schools and the community.”

Indiana Classical Schools Corp. officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The CCS school board voted on June 25, 2018, to close Orchard Park at the conclusion of the 2020-21 school year. CCS never notified IDOE of a building vacancy, however, because it continued using the building for meeting space, professional development, staging and safety drills.

Last month, CCS officials presented a plan to the school board to repurpose the Orchard Park Elementary site for childcare for district employees. Much of the existing building would be demolished for added green space. The plan, which has not yet been approved by the school board, was dependent on the court ruling.