Michael Jackson's Hometown to Name School in His Honor

Gary, Ind., school board seeks to inspire youth with a King of Pop memorial.

Posted: 07/24/2014 08:08 AM EDT

Katherine Jackson has signed off on a plan to rename an Indiana school after her late son, Michael.

The Gary Community School Board approved a memorandum Tuesday (July 23), which Katherine Jackson put her John Hancock on last month, seeking "to honor Michael Jackson and to inspire children to excel in the arts and education."

District superintendent Cheryl Pruitt and the Jackson family are still working out which school, reports the Huffington Post. The idea, Pruitt said, first came up in April in a conversation with Katherine Jackson, who's been a long-time supporter of the school system. She donated $10,000 that month, during the Gary Promise scholarship event hosted by Magic Johnson.

"She's always wanted something left here. She's really dedicated to the Gary Community Schools," Pruitt said.

The district has suffered from high poverty levels and had to shutter five of its 17 schools in June, in part because of declining enrollment.

MJ spent the first 11 years of his life in Gary and, before his 2009 death, returned to the city to receive an honorary diploma from Roosevelt High School, near his childhood home. Although he never attended the school, he and his brothers, The Jackson 5, have performed on the stage in the auditorium there.

Roosevelt, however, is not a likely candidate for the memorial. The district no longer operates the school, which was taken over by the state in 2011 due to poor test scores. The district may regain control in 2016.

"A close relationship with the Jackson family to improve the quality of programs for the Gary Community School Corp. can mean tremendous gains for the school district and the city as a whole," Pruitt said.

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(Photo: Greg Allen / Retna Ltd/Corbis)

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