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The week ahead

Another Purdue slight

Former IPFW Chancellor Michael Wartell talks with students during a recognition ceremony last year. As part of the sendoff for the longtime administrator, IPFW officials announced they would name the new student services complex in honor of Wartell and his wife, Ruth. The Purdue trustees have yet to act on the regional campus’ request to do so.

The Purdue University Board of Trustees’ meeting at IPFW this week would seem to be an opportune time to follow through on the regional campus’ effort to name a building in honor of its former chancellor and his wife, but the measure isn’t on the agenda.

Last June, as part of a campuswide celebration of Michael Wartell’s 19-year administrative tenure, a model sign for the new student services complex was presented at a tribute event. IPFW officials announced the building would be named for Michael and Ruth Wartell, pending approval by the Purdue trustees. Purdue is the governing authority for IPFW, under terms of a management agreement.

A call to the board’s offices to check on the agenda was referred to Chris Sigurdson, Purdue’s assistant vice president for external relations. He said he was “not aware of the request” to name the building in the Wartells’ honor and suggested that IPFW officials be contacted.

But Susan Alderman, IPFW’s media director, said officials there followed Purdue’s procedures for naming a building, submitting the request to the university’s development office.

“It is up to them whether they put it on the agenda,” Alderman said. “We followed all of the things we were supposed to do last summer. It’s now in Purdue’s hands.”

It likely doesn’t help that the former chancellor has pending litigation against the university, challenging enforcement of its mandatory retirement policy. The trustees forced Wartell out when he turned 65, even though the university has granted seven exemptions to its policy for administrators in high policy-making positions over the past 20 years. No other administrator has been forced to step down.

Wartell won the latest round of the dispute when a Tippecanoe County judge ruled Purdue cannot claim attorney-client privilege in blocking disclosure of information related to the complaint. Purdue has appealed the ruling.

The university officials’ continued poor treatment of the former chancellor is unbecoming a major academic institution. Purdue’s oversight of IPFW has been under scrutiny by area lawmakers, including Sen. Dennis Kruse, chairman of the Senate Education and Career Development Committee. If the trustees can’t put aside differences and allow IPFW to honor a popular and long-serving leader, their indifference to community and regional campus interests shouldn’t go unnoticed.

The Purdue trustees will be in Fort Wayne for meetings on Thursday and Friday.

Charter appeals

Ball State University officials will hear an appeal from representatives of Imagine MAST- er Academy on Thursday. The Fort Wayne charter school is challenging the university’s decision to revoke its charter as of June 30.

Appeals hearings are set for April 16 for the Imagine School on Broadway and April 18 for Timothy L. Johnson Academy. All of the hearings are closed to the public, but school officials will have two hours to make a case before a three-member panel. BSU President Jo Ann Gora will make the final decision. Bob Marra, a longtime official with the Indiana Department of Education who is now executive director of Ball State’s Office of Charter Schools, will make the university’s case for revoking the charters.

Each of the Fort Wayne-based charters has made little progress in achievement. As authorizer for the schools, Ball State has been increasing its oversight and working with the National Association of Charter School Authorizers to raise its standards in overseeing the public schools, established under the Indiana General Assembly charter school legislation. Charter schools are supposed to be held to a higher level of accountability in exchange for more autonomy.

Johnson Academy officials already are searching for another sponsor in the event Ball State doesn’t reverse its decision. They have made a pitch to the East Allen County Schools board.

New county policies

Allen County has two new policies that go into effect today. The first requires county employees to use rental cars rather than their own vehicles for any trip more than 75 miles.

It’s a wise cost-saving move by the board of commissioners. The county can take advantage of a state contract with Enterprise Rent-A-Car and spend about $27 a day for a trip to Indianapolis, compared to more than $140 for reimbursing an employee for mileage.

The annual sex offender registration fee also kicks in today. Under a state law enacted four years ago, the county can charge sex offenders a $50 registration fee and an additional $5 for each change of address. The Allen County Sheriff’s Department gets to keep 90 percent of the money with the rest going to the state.

County officials estimate the fee will bring in about $20,000 a year and will help cover the expense of tracking and registering offenders. But critics are concerned that it may discourage sex offenders from registering.