State Board of Education: 2 virtual schools 'grossly exaggerated enrollment'

Heather Bremer | The Herald Bulletin

DALEVILLE – Daleville Community Schools’ board of trustees has scheduled two meetings for the expected revocation of the charters and closure of two virtual schools due to concerns of mismanagement.

The school corporation is the authorizing district for Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy. The two schools will be allowed, as required by law, to make a presentation in defense of their programs starting at 6 p.m. Monday at Daleville Community Schools' administration center, 14300 W. Second St.

The board is expected to vote on whether it will revoke the charters at 6 p.m. Aug. 26, also at the administration center.

Each of the meetings fulfills part of the statutory requirements necessary for the closure of the virtual schools, which serve students statewide. Though IVPA initially expected to close at the end of the 2019-20 school year, both schools now are slated for closure as early as Sept. 30.

“At this point many of the virtual school personnel have left IVS and IVPA including all the support staff from the educational service provider that was handling transcripts and student records," district officials said in a prepared statement. "The few who remain are inundated with requests to send, evaluate, and/or correct transcripts with limited ability and no income. DCS is onsite weekly to evaluate the operations, provide guidance, and to assist the countless students and their families as they transfer to a new school to continue their education and to address other pressing matters related to school operation, student services, and the closure process.”

Daleville Community Schools authorized the charter for the virtual schools in 2011 as an educational option for students in grades 6 through 12, which allowed the district to offer more than 150 courses, including advanced placement, for its traditional students.

IVS opened in 2012, and IVPA opened in 2017. At one point, they had a combined enrollment of about 7,200 students.

“IVS attributed the growth to two factors: a social media advertising campaign and school principals counseling dropouts into transferring to the virtual school,” the DCS statement said. “Of the 3000 students, nearly half were arriving as seniors and most were credit deficient, meaning they could not graduate on time.”

However, Daleville school officials said they were denied access to data regarding students until August 2018. Since that time, they have identified a number of concerns, including low graduation rates, possibly deceptive enrollments and state overpayments to the virtual schools.

In February, Daleville issued a notice of revocation, which set in motion the statutory timeline for the closure of the schools.

Daleville and the virtual schools in June reached an agreement for closure. However, last month, DCS officials said the virtual schools were not keeping to the closure protocols specified in the agreement and approved a second notice of revocation for their charters.