Editor’s Note: Calling it overly broad, the state-controlled Gary School District initally denied the Crusader’s request to release emails from two officials that were sent from February to current. After the state’s refusal was reported in the Crusader on its print and digital platforms on Aug. 2, the state reversed course and released some emails, but not many. Just three are from Nakia Douglas, the deputy superintendent of schools who hung up twice on a Crusader reporter in June. Seven are from Emergency Manager Peter Morikis, who despite repeated requests, has never spoken to the Crusader since we began reporting on this story last June. All the emails that were released are from February or June. No emails from March, April and May were released. The emails that were released were mostly about the Crusader’s questions or requests for information after Roosevelt’s historic building was closed in February. None of these emails shed light on whether assessments were actually made on the building’s condition while it was closed.
Attorney Michael Tolbert said that although it does not appear that the Crusader’s latest questions complies with the Indiana Public Records Act, “in the interest of cooperation,” he gave his client’s responses to our questions. A second community meeting on Roosevelt will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 13 at the Gary Area Career Center.
1)In March, the Crusader reported that technicians were investigating the heating problems were working on comprehensive report that should be ready in a few weeks. Was this report completed?
Answer: See attached.
(A 28-page inspection report dated January 30 was provided from J.C. Restoration, a company based in Rolling Meadows, IL, a suburb in northwest Chicago. The Crusader is reviewing this document)
2) In 2018, the GCSC received $500,000 from the state to repair the heating system at Roosevelt. Was this money used to purchase space heaters instead?
3) What is the name of the insurance company that holds the policy at Roosevelt?
Answer: Lexington Insurance Company.
4) An April 2 meeting between Edison learning and Gary’s Emergency Manager never took place. What happened?
Answer: the attached memo was provided to Edison[Learning]
5) Where did the financial assessment of the estimated $10 million needed to repair Roosevelt come from? Was it a private firm?
Answer: GCSC calculation.
6) Why weren’t the documents that were emailed to me not presented at the July 16 meeting?
Answer: The meeting focused on the cost of repairs, not the cost of assessment and evaluation.
(The documents were copies that listed six vendors who the district paid $50,690.)
7) Why weren’t citizens allowed to ask questions at the July 16 meeting?
Answer: Consistent with GCSC Advisory Board meetings, and school board meetings in most districts, a question and answer session was not scheduled to allow all citizens the time to make comments. However, citizens were given multiple ways to ask questions after the July 16 meeting.
8) Why weren’t the people in the video tour of Roosevelt not wearing mask of hard hats in a deteriorating building that has falling tiles and asbestos-laden ceiling tiles?
Answer: No response is required as this request does not comply with the Act. This information should be obtained from the individuals depicted in the video.
9) May I interview Mr. Morikis with my publisher present?
Answer: Not at this time.