The Hoosier Academy school board voted this week to not renew the charter of its full-time online school after months of scrutiny from the state, dropping enrollment, and poor academic performance.
Hoosier Academy Virtual Charter School will close after June 30. The board will continue to operate its two other schools, the hybrid Hoosier Academy-Indianapolis, where students learn online and in-person at a brick-and-mortar school, and Insight School of Indiana, which is geared toward students with more intensive needs.
John Marske, board chairman, told Chalkbeat in an email that the board did not think the school could meet the requirements to get its charter renewed. The school is authorized by Ball State University and operated by the for-profit K12 Inc.
“If we were to seek renewal, we would have had to submit a renewal application by Oct. 1, 2017,” Marske said. He noted that “the board has seen evidence of significant improvement at Hoosier Virtual,” but didn’t feel that academics were strong enough “to pass the rigors of a new charter application process.”
The school’s leader, Byron Ernest, also an Indiana State Board of Education member, did not immediately return requests for comment. Bob Marra, who directs charter school efforts at Ball State, was not available to comment.
Marske said the board is now focused on alerting and addressing questions from the families of the 2,065 students enrolled in the academy in grades K-12 and its almost 100 teachers.
“Our intention is to give our families and teachers as many options as possible,” Marske said. “Meanwhile, we are also focused on improving results of the Hoosier Hybrid school in Indianapolis, as well as the Hoosier Insight school.”
According to minutes from Hoosier Academy’s July board meeting (the most recent posted by the school), Hoosier Virtual saw a drop of about 800 students from its enrollment of 2,867 a year ago. The Insight School enrolled 593 as of July, and the hybrid school enrolled 199.
Hoosier Academy Virtual escaped closure in May when the Indiana State Board of Education voted to allow the school to remain open despite years of poor test scores and F grades. The board also decided not to allow them to enroll new students and reduced fees paid to Ball State to authorize the school.