Indiana Republicans say law adequate despite online school fraud

Indiana

This Sept. 13, 2019, photo shows the closed office of Indiana Virtual School, in Indianapolis, with a message to creditors taped to the door stating that it no longer had assets or bank accounts. A new state audit report said Indiana Virtual School and a sister online school inflated their enrollments by thousands of students and inappropriately paid nearly $86 million to companies linked to the schools’ founder or his associates. (AP Photo/Tom Davies)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Republican leaders are resisting steps toughening state laws on privately operated online schools, pushing aside blame in the alleged enrollment inflation by two such schools that wrongly collected $69 million in taxpayer money.

The state audit of Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy released this month outlined how they improperly claimed about 14,000 students as enrolled between 2011 and 2019, even though they had no online course activity.

Republicans who dominate the state Legislature have rejected complaints from Democrats that responsibility for the fraud rests with lax regulations.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb and GOP legislative leaders are giving up campaign contributions from sources related to the two schools.

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