Hillsdale-linked Valor Classical Academy drops Pike Township plans, eyes new Hamilton County site

A man in a suit stands at a podium speaking before a crowd. Beside him are two people sitting behind a table also facing the crowd.

This story has been updated.

A charter school affiliated with the private Christian Hillsdale College has abandoned plans to open in Pike Township after significant backlash, although it still hopes to open a campus in Hamilton County this fall. 

Valor Classical Academy had been exploring a location at 3600 Woodview Trace, after failing to acquire a Carmel Clay Schools building 10 miles away in Hamilton County. 

But dozens of residents from Pike and Washington townships opposed the school’s opening at a public hearing earlier this month. 

Valor supporters said the school would put academics front and center and attract those who lack faith in traditional public schools. But opponents objected to its ties to conservative education ideology, and argued that the school would focus exclusively on Western culture and cater to white students in an area where most students are students of color. 

The school’s curriculum includes Hillsdale’s 1776 history and civics curriculum

The school’s authorizer, the Grace Schools Charter Authority — which is affiliated with Grace College, a private Christian institution — posted a notice on its website within the past week that Valor is no longer pursuing the Pike Township location. 

Valor school board President Holly Wilson said that instead, the school has found a new site it hopes to use in Hamilton County, and added that the school’s plan has always been to stay as close to Hamilton County as possible. 

Wilson said that the Hamilton County site is very close to the Orchard Park Elementary building, which Valor previously tried but failed to acquire from Carmel Clay Schools under the state’s $1 law that allows charter schools to buy or lease unused public school buildings for $1. 

“We’ve still got some negotiations to do but we’re closing in on it,” she said. “And working day in and day out.”

In its charter application, Valor said it plans to open with 378 students in grades K-6 and grow to full capacity in 2029 with 702 students in grades K-12. 

Valor had previously sued Carmel Clay Schools over the use of Orchard Park Elementary. But the district fought against the attempted acquisition, arguing that the building would still be in use. A Hamilton County judge sided with the district in January. The school, however, filed a notice of appeal earlier this month, according to court records.

The demographics and targeted enrollment zone of the Valor school would not change based on the new proposed site, she said. She did not share the exact site location in Hamilton County.

The school will submit another addendum to its character application to account for the new site, Wilson said. 

This story has been updated to include Valor Classical Academy’s appeal of a Hamilton County judge’s ruling.

Amelia Pak-Harvey covers Indianapolis and Marion County schools for Chalkbeat Indiana. Contact Amelia at apak-harvey@chalkbeat.org.

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