West Lafayette Community School Corp. is suing the state to protect a vacant elementary school building from being sold or leased to a charter school for $1.
Charter schools can lease or buy the building for $1 if a school building is unused for two years. But the Department of Education must know beforehand, according to a 2011 law.
The district filed a lawsuit Thursday, naming Gov. Eric Holcomb as the defendant, the Journal and Courier reported.
Rocky Killion, the district superintendent, said the district didn’t want to wait to protect what he called a community asset.
“We believe that there is a constitutional right for taxpayers and for property owners that they own property that the state cannot come in and do a land grab without some due process,” Killion said.
State Rep. Bob Behning, chairman of the House Education Committee, defended the law’s concept, saying the statute is aimed at giving charter schools access to public buildings.
Alec Gray, a spokesman for the governor, said Holcomb’s office had not seen the lawsuit and declined to comment further.
The district doesn’t have specific plans for Happy Hollow, but there was a discussion about a pre-kindergarten or kindergarten program during public hearings.
Killion said the school board hasn’t been interested in selling the site, in case of an increase in enrollment.
The school is currently being used as a city hall for West Lafayette for $1.5 million.
“We still believe Happy Hollow is an asset West Lafayette should keep,” Killion said. “I’m concerned that there’s enough gray area in this legislation that should a private company want to come in and flex their muscle, I think this law gives them some opening to do that. And I, from a superintendent’s standpoint, want to stop that.”