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June 4, 2014

Trine denies Dugger charter school link

Northeastern Indiana university issues statement refuting reports it is authorizing new school

DUGGER — Contrary to some reports, Trine University is not working with Dugger Union Community Schools to authorize a charter school.

The university, located in Angola in northeastern Indiana, issued a statement Tuesday that reads:

“Contrary to reports, Trine University’s Education One has not been contacted by officials from Dugger school and is not involved with the school, said David Wood, assistant vice president for academic resources/planning, who oversees Trine’s charter initiative.”

Education One LLC is Trine’s charter school authorizing program. In a telephone interview, Wood said he had “no idea” how the miscommunication occurred.

“We are not accepting [charter] applications right now, and we have not received any application from Dugger,” Wood said.

He said that Dugger representatives had made some inquiries about Trine’s process related to charter schools, but not recently. “Other than that, there have been no meetings or applications or anything like that,” Wood said.

Trine formerly was called Tri-State University. It was founded in 1884.

Greg Ellis, a board member for Dugger Union Community Schools, said in a published report this week that Trine had agreed to work with DUCSC to establish a charter school. He also said that details were still being fleshed out.

On Tuesday, Ellis told the Tribune-Star that representatives had met last week with Don Williams, chief executive officer of Indiana Cyber Charter School, an online charter school Trine authorized (through Education One). Ellis said there was another meeting scheduled to work out details. “We’ve had two positive meetings with him,” Ellis said.

But when told about Trine’s statement, Ellis said, “That’s shocking news to me.”

He said he was going to look further into the development. He could not be reached for comment later Tuesday afternoon or early evening.

In December 2013, the Northeast Sullivan School Board voted to close Union High School and Dugger Elementary at the end of the current school year, citing budget difficulties and enrollment decline.

In response, the new Dugger-Union Community School Corp. was formed to work toward keeping the children and a school in Dugger, through either a charter school or separate public school district.

On May 1, by a 4-to-1 vote, the Indiana Charter School Board denied DUCSC’s application for a charter school for Dugger. DUCSC representatives vowed to continue efforts to find a way to establish a charter school, if not in time for the 2014-15 school year, then for the next year.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin

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