The IPS school board will interview three of four candidates for its open school board seat, but the one it eliminated is both the only IPS parent in the group and a familiar name.
Annie Roof served on the board for four years and was elected its president in 2014 by the same board members who decided to pass her over for an interview. She was defeated by Mary Ann Sullivan when she ran for re-election last year after a single four-year term on the board.
A seat opened up on the board when Caitlin Hannon resigned earlier this month to accept a fellowship from the Mind Trust to try to develop a unified enrollment system that would allow students to apply both IPS schools and charter schools with one form.
Six people applied to be considered for appointment by the board but two were disqualified. One submitted the application after the deadline and another lived outside the district. With Roof, the mother of three IPS students, eliminated from the pool, the three applicants who will be interviewed Wednesday include:
- Karen Celestino Horseman, an Indianapolis attorney and former City-County Council member.
- Michael O’Connor, the director of state government affairs at Eli Lilly and Company and a former Indianapolis deputy mayor under Mayor Bart Peterson.
- Will Pritchard, a community housing developer.
The first to garner four votes from the six board members at Thursday’s meeting will fill the open seat.
Roof said she hadn’t intended to try to return to the board but thought her knowledge of IPS could help when filling an unexpired term with little over a year left.
“Honestly I felt like it was partly my duty,” she said. “There is such a huge learning curve with this job. When the job is only a year a sixth-month learning curve is a big deal. Thought I could step in and continue the mission of the board without missing a beat.”
Board member Gayle Cosby said the board should have given Roof a chance to interview.
“I think all of the consideration of her experience was set aside in favor of selecting someone who was politically aligned with the board majority,” Cosby said. “It’s a shame because it doesn’t show an appreciation for diversity of thought that is a cornerstone of democracy.”
Roof was sometimes out of step with some of board majority’s effort to make changes in the district during her last two years, but more often joined them by voting for many of the proposals they supported.
Still, groups that backed IPS reforms contributed large amounts of money to her opponent, Sullivan, who defeated Roof easily for an at-large seat on the board.
“I’m disappointed in the decision and I’m confused by it,” Roof said of being passed over for an interview. “I felt like I carried myself professionally. I was a dedicated board member.”
Chalkbeat Indiana is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.