Still waiting for action on virtual schools’ alleged malfeasance

It’s been a year since the State Board of Accounts released a detailed report alleging that tens of millions of dollars in “public funds were misappropriated” by two virtual charter schools. We’re still waiting to see if anyone will do anything.

Copies of the report were sent to the offices of local and federal prosecutors and the Indiana attorney general; but none are disclosing how they will respond. An official with the Marion County prosecutor’s office suggested the matter fell under federal jurisdiction. At the office of the U.S. attorney for the South District of Indiana, spokesperson Steven Whitaker provided a no-comment comment:

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Virtual school or ‘blended’ school?

Is the Indiana Agriculture and Technology School a virtual charter school or a blended charter school? It’s always been hard to tell, and it still is – even more so now that the school is offering its students a fully virtual option in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Early this year, the Indiana State Board of Education ruled the school had been operating as a virtual charter school. That was apparently illegal. The school’s authorizer is the Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson school district, and Indiana law bars school districts from authorizing virtual charter schools.

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Authorization for ag-tech charter school may violate law

The Indiana State Board of Education has ruled that the authorization of Indiana Agriculture and Technology School may violate state law, calling into question the future of the charter school with a novel approach that blends online learning and visits to a working farm.

In a notice of violation, the board tells the school’s authorizer, Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson United School Corp., that it isn’t permitted to authorize a virtual charter school that operates beyond the district’s boundaries. It calls for the school district to respond to the notice by March 10.

“It is imperative that NHJ address this matter in a timely manner, as failure to do so may result in the revocation of NHJ’s authorizer status,” the notice says.

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