Democrats want answers in virtual charter school investigation

STAFF REPORT
The StatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana House Democrats are searching for answers in the current virtual charter school investigation.

The investigation came after Daleville Community Schools stopped its business relationship with two Indiana virtual charter schools, Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy, after numerous allegations arose that these two schools were inflating their enrollment numbers. That, in turn, sent more state dollars to those schools than they otherwise were entitled to receive.

The State Board of Education voted Wednesday to recommend that $40 million in future state funding be slashed from the schools to recoup the overpayments.

House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, said in a statement that “problems surrounding the virtual charter school industry in Indiana may have come into view for many Hoosiers at the State Board of Education meeting Wednesday, but there have been warning signs on the horizon for quite a while now.”

He noted that media outlets such as Chalkbeat Indiana “have been talking about the mess for some time, and the fact that we are talking about millions of dollars in taxpayer money disappearing without a trace should be concerning to everyone.”

GiaQuinta said Democrats will push the legislature’s Interim Study Committee on Education to examine the issue.

“There is no excuse for doing nothing,” he said.

State Rep. Ed DeLaney, an Indianapolis Democrat who serves on that committee, sent a letter Thursday to the State Board of Accounts, asking for the board’s examiners to look deeper into the virtual schools and to release the answers.

“First, I would request a list of all previous audits of virtual charter schools…,” DeLaney wrote, “I would also like to know whether your office has made any effort or will make any effort to look at related party transactions involving relatives, employees, friends, etc. of the management of Indiana Virtual School or Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy.”

The State Board of Accounts said Wednesday that its audit of the two virtual schools is continuing.

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One Response to Democrats want answers in virtual charter school investigation

  1. This case should represent a “teaching moment” for EVERYONE involved with education funding for our schools. At a time when traditional public schools are expected to be accountable for referendums (and rightfully so), we are past the time for charter schools to be held to the full measure of every dollar they receive and the results – in the classroom – they are producing. It is incumbent not only on the charter school to repay these funds, so, too, is it on the school board and administration of the Daleville Community Schools for their part. Lastly, and, perhaps, most important is the fact that every member of the General Assembly needs to collectively be held responsible for their decisions in adopting the laws that have created the system we have in place. Because when it goes wrong, the ONLY people who are hurt are the students.

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