Board votes to shut down 2 Indiana virtual schools

Indiana

The Indiana State Board of Education meets July 10, 2019, in Indianapolis. (WISH Photo)

DALEVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — The Daleville School Board voted Thursday night to start the process to close down two Indiana virtual schools that have been scrutinized for months.

The board voted to send notices to shut down the the Indiana Virtual School no later than Sept. 30 and the Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy no later than June 30. If the board revokes the schools’ charters, both likely would close by September, the Daleville school district said in a news release issued Thursday night.

A recent audit showed two virtual schools inflated their enrollment numbers, and the State Board of Education said July 10 it wants millions of dollars in excess funding back.

Some of the findings:

  • A virtual school kept two students on the rolls who moved to Florida years ago.
  • Hundreds of enrolled students earned zero credits in the 2017-18 school year.
  • A deceased student was listed as enrolled.

State Rep. Ed DeLaney, an Indianapolis Democrat, called the virtual schools’ problems “the worst example of government failure at the legislative, administrative and accounting level that I have seen in 20-something years of Indiana politics.”

The State Board of Education’s audit found Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy inflated enrollment to at least twice as many students as they had. Because of that, millions in state money went to virtual schools.

The state board decided July 10 to try to get its millions of dollars back.

Jennifer McCormick, the state superintendent of public instruction, said July 10, “Obviously, the whole situation is a concern. I commend Daleville for at least, during those audits, they self-reported when things weren’t adding up from the organizer.”

Daleville School Superintendent Paul Garrison said, “This isn’t one of my proudest moments.”

In February, Garrison asked the Daleville School Board to revoke the charters.

State officials said they notified “all of our law enforcement partners,” but no criminal activities have been alleged.

Percy Clark Jr., superintendent of the Indiana Virtual School and the Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy, called the State Board of Education’s review premature. He said, in part, in a letter dated early this month, “The State Board of Accounts (SBOA) admits its audits of the schools are presently incomplete. The SBOA’s evidentiary submission is based on a restrictive, unrepresentative 100 student non-random sample, likely pulled from information provided by Daleville Community Schools (“DCS”). Why rush to judgement when the SBOE essentially adopts the terms and conditions of the proposal Closure Protocols negotiated by the schools and DCS?”

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