Charters revoked for 2 online Indiana schools; resources available for affected students

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DALEVILLE, Ind. – Daleville Community Schools voted Monday to revoke the charters of Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy.

The two online schools are under investigation by state auditors for allegedly inflating enrollment numbers and owing the state millions of dollars.

The State Examiner says both schools “substantially misreported” after reviewing the audit report. As of July 10, Indiana Virtual School was cut off from state funding.

Now that the charters have been revoked, the two schools will close on September 30.

In July, CBS4 spoke with James Betley, the Executive Director of the Indiana Charter School Board. He advised parents to begin finding other options for their students.

“The majority of the charter operators and authorizers in the state put kids first and this is the first time I’ve ever heard of anything like this happening,” said Betley. “I know the schools that we authorize would happily take any of these kids and if the transcript comes later, the transcript comes later.”

Options Schools in Hamilton County wants to remove the negative stigma and let parents and students to know they’re not left in the dark.

10th grader Conner Reiff relies not only on his classroom work for his studies, but he also focuses on his online classes.

“I do have a couple of online classes, an engineering class and a Spanish class,” Reiff shared.

Reiff struggled in school, larger classrooms were too stressful.

“I feel like this is kind of like my second family,” said Reiff. “I’m taking it in and retaining it and I’m able to use it for future use or outside of school.”

Options School is a free, public charter school that helps at-risk kids.

“They may be a senior but might read at a third grade level,” said Camille Tolliver, the Director of Curriculum and Instruction. “We have some students who don’t like the online thing, so they’re in the classroom.”

The Carmel location was one of the first charter schools in Indiana, and due to a high demand, Options opened its second campus in Noblesville.

There are also evening and distance education programs. Soon, a Westfield location will be available for students. Teachers travel the state, an approach that Michelle Walden says is unique to the relationship-based learning method.

“Our teachers are meeting with our students face-to-face through Google Hangouts, Facetime, or whatever platform is most appropriate for the student and they’re doing that on a weekly basis,” said Walden.

Right now, teachers are taking on more students as the school is seeing an increase of enrollment in ways they have never seen before.

“We’re seeing 10-12 entries a day right now,” explained Walden.

That’s due to Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy announcing their closure.

“It hurts us all,” said Walden.

As an educator, she says, the negative impact is one of her biggest fears.

“There are seniors out there that were so close and ready to graduate and now they’re maybe giving up because they don’t want to go to another school, one more time,” said Walden. “People have questions and when things go badly for some schools or when people don’t handle things the way that they should, it kind of gives a bad name to anybody in that same venue.”

If you would like to get in contact with Options Schools, click here.

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