Indiana recently said it will hand control of five academically troubled schools to private school-management firms.

The State Board of Education approved the proposal, which was made by state superintendent Tony Bennett last month. It marks the first time the state has taken control of schools since it was given authority to do so in 1999.

Bennett said the state would take over four schools in Indianapolis and one in Gary that have all been on academic probation for at least five years.

Public Law 221, passed in 1999, requires the state to intervene in schools that have been on academic probation for six consecutive years.

The state board will sign contracts with three private firms to begin operating the schools starting in the 2012-2013 school year. The firms would receive the state per-pupil aid as part of the plan.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said he supports Bennett’s proposals. “These schools have been failing for many years,” he said in a statement.

The superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools, however, said he would sue the state if it tries to take over any of the city’s schools.

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