University Takes Over Failing Public School District


Unlike in the case of Muncie, where the takeover was opposed by the local school board, a simple vote by Chelsea officials gave BU control of failing Chelsea schools in 1989. Not everyone embraced the school district takeover with open arms, of course. The teachers’ union felt that the shift of public functions to a private body violated Massachusetts Constitution and sued to block the deal. Hispanic student activists also sued, saying their community was not thoroughly engaged in the decision-making process. And, of course, some elected School Board and Committee members did not appreciate outsiders coming to manage their community.

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However, the benefits of partnering a failing school district with a skilled, dynamic, well-regarded school of education became obvious. After about 20 years of BU’s control, students were more likely to graduate from high school than to drop out, elementary and middle schools had art and music programs, and high school students were offered a multitude of Advanced Placement classes.

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Felix Rippy
Felix Rippy is a graduate certificate recipient at Indiana University’s Graduate School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Rippy is a writer and speaker on matters of public policy including public funding, campus speech and public safety. Rippy is a cum laude graduate of Harvard University (BA, History), he holds a JD and MBA from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business and the University of Texas School of Law School.