IPS announces new principal at School 87 after fallout from abuse allegations against teacher

A blue and white sign in a green lawn in front of a large stone school building.
The front entrance of George Washington Carver Montessori School 87 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Indianapolis Public Schools announced Elizabeth Krutz would take over as principal after fallout from a lawsuit alleging administrators ignored complaints of physical abuse against a student while a former teacher encouraged a "fight club" style of discipline. (Amelia Pak-Harvey / Chalkbeat)

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Indianapolis Public Schools has hired a new principal at George Washington Carver School 87 following an outcry over the school’s culture and administrators’ handling of allegations that a former teacher encouraged abuse of a student with a disability.

Elizabeth Krutz, former principal of La Porte Middle School and coordinator of special programs at the La Porte Community School Corporation, will start after her hiring is confirmed by the IPS board at the end of July, per an IPS news release.

“Elizabeth brings an amazing skill set that includes celebrated relationship-building expertise and a proven ability to close achievement gaps through strategic planning and data-driven practices,” IPS Superintendent Aleesia Johnson said in the Monday press release. “We look forward to the positive impact she will have on our students and the community.”

School 87 came under fire earlier this year, when a widely circulated video showed one student beating another. A lawsuit filed on April 16 by the mother of a 7-year-old student says the video includes audio of the child’s teacher at the time, Julious Johnican, encouraging the physical attack. (Johnican resigned from his position last year and no longer works for IPS.)

After extensive media coverage of the video, parents raised concerns about the school’s overall climate and lack of transparency. The mother’s lawsuit said Johnican used a “fight club” style of discipline, and alleges school administrators dismissed claims of physical assault related to the incident. The lawsuit is ongoing and is in federal court.

In the wake of the video and the criticism from parents, IPS announced in April that it would create a Mental Health and School Culture Task Force, as well as a task force dedicated to student safety.

The hiring announcement did not reference the incident or parents’ complaints. After an investigation into the video, IPS announced in May that it would hire a new School 87 principal and assistant principal, who would replace Principal Mary Kapcoe and Assistant Principal Finae Rent.

IPS emphasized Krutz’s support for Montessori practices, which prioritize student independence and self-directed learning.

In its statement, IPS said she is enrolled in a course for Montessori fundamentals for school leaders, and that Krutz will be mentored by Christine Rembert, principal of IPS Montessori James Russell Lowell School 51.

Krutz received her bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and also received a license in Educational Leadership and Administration from Indiana State University, according to her LinkedIn profile. She said her four children attend Montessori schools, and that she is a “firm believer in the Montessori philosophy.”

“I am committed to ensuring that George Washington Carver offers the best Montessori program for all students,” Krutz said in the release.

Haley Miller is a summer reporting intern covering education in the Indianapolis area. Contact Haley at hmiller@chalkbeat.org.

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