News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 13, 2014

Dugger-Union school group loses superintendent, vows to continue trying for charter

The Tribune-Star

DUGGER — Tom Peeler plans to resign as superintendent of Dugger-Union Community School Corp. effective at the end of June.

DUCSC board members, meanwhile, are still weighing all options as far as opening a charter school and plan to reapply to the Indiana Charter School Board in the fall.

On May 1, the Charter School Board voted  4-to-1 to deny the DUCSC application for a charter.

The group won’t leave any stone unturned, said DUCSC board member Greg Ellis.

“We’re still pursuing a charter,” he said. “Basically, they told us at the charter school board meeting we didn’t have enough time to prepare properly.”

State board members “felt we had a good program and the community support was there,” he said.

A committee, including members with education backgrounds, is working to strengthen the DUCSC application and fix any issues identified by the state charter board, Ellis said.

The DUCSC board could appeal the state charter board’s decision.

Also, there are nonprofit charter groups that could help the group with its application and startup plan, Ellis said.

But given the timing, “Right now, there’s a low probability to be approved for this coming year, but I think there’s a high probability it will be approved for 2015,” Ellis said.

He acknowledged it could be more challenging to enroll students at a charter once students have already started 2014-15 at a new school. He anticipates few Union-Dugger students will attend Northeast School Corp. schools in the fall.

Peeler said he has turned in his resignation effective at the end of June. “I’m seeking other positions,” he said. The DUCSC is moving forward, and “I’m still there for them if they have questions or want guidance.”

He had hoped to open a new charter school in August. But given that’s unlikely to happen, he said he is finishing his doctorate in education at ISU and is also applying for other positions.

“There are no bad feelings” between him and the DUCSC board, Peeler said. “We are parting as friends.”

Peeler said he worked hard with the DUCSC board for several months to make a charter school reality, “but now I must do what is right for my family.”