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IPS won’t say if Arsenal Tech’s principal is on his way out

Arsenal Tech High School
Arsenal Tech High School
Alan Petersime

Will Arsenal Technical High School have a new principal next year?

Several Arsenal Tech parents, teachers and staff members who came to tonight’s Indianapolis Public School Board meeting seem to think so, but district officials aren’t saying.

Speakers tonight at the meeting protested rumors that a decision was made to remove Principal Larry Yarrell and other school administrators from their posts because of the high school’s academic performance struggles.

“Removing the current administration would create chaos on campus,” said classroom assistant Cheryl Liggins. “I love working at Tech with the current administration and staff. We work as a team for the good of our students. I encourage you to keep the administrative staff as it is.”

Arsenal Tech Principal Larry Yarrell.
Arsenal Tech Principal Larry Yarrell.
Photo courtesy of Larry Yarrell

IPS chief strategist Le Boler said the district would not comment on personnel issues. The school board is required to approve all personnel actions at public meetings. State law requires that principals with expiring contracts receive notice of renewal or nonrenewal by district officials by March 1.

Yarrell said he could not comment on his employment situation, but said Arsenal Tech has made strong academic gains under his leadership over the past four years.

The school earned a D letter grade from the state this year. Student scores on end-of-course exams for math and English were below the state average, with nearly 79 percent of students passing end-of-course exams in Algebra 1 and about 49 percent passing English exams, according to the Indiana Department of Education. The school has a 61 percent graduation rate.

State averages are 72 percent passing math, 77 percent passing English and an 88.3 percent graduation rate statewide.

But the school made a nearly 16 percentage point jump in math when the state compared math scores on eighth graders’ ISTEP tests to those on their 10th-grade Alegbra exams, according to the DOE.

“We’re making tremendous growth, leaps and bounds,” he said. “Our graduation rate is as high as it’s ever been. We’re growing, but it takes time to make the milestones.”

The school board takes action on personnel issues at its action sessions. The next action session is Feb. 24.

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