MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) — Authorities have condemned an Indiana school after inspectors found students wrapped in blankets and huddled around a kerosene heater in a chilly classroom.
Fire and building inspectors said they spotted six students March 15 at Delaware Christian Academy, a private school in Muncie that’s part of the state’s school voucher program. Muncie is about 50 miles northeast of Indianapolis.
Mike Baur, the school’s volunteer superintendent, acknowledged Thursday that the building has flaws, the Star Press reported. But he denied that the children were cold. He said the plan is to reopen the building, which is 28,282 square feet.
The investigation was prompted by the school’s participation in Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program , said Adam Baker, a state Department of Education spokesman. The voucher program awards scholarships to income-eligible students to offset tuition expenses at participating private institutions. During the 2018-19 school year, there have been more than 36,000 Indiana students participating in the voucher program at 329 schools across the state. They were awarded $161.4 million this school year in vouchers to attend private schools.
Baker said that the state education department’s staff called the fire marshal and building commissioner after discovering the school’s deplorable conditions.
“This was not an environment whatsoever to learn, grow and accelerate in,” he said. “This goes from kids not only can’t learn here to kids can’t even be here.”
On Wednesday, the city building commissioner condemned the facility, finding it to be in weakened structural condition, a fire threat and a public health hazard, among other things.
A hearing before Muncie’s Unsafe Building Hearing Authority has been set for May 9 at City Hall.