Indiana seeks $620K after audit finds students not online

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State education officials want a northern Indiana school district to repay more than $620,000 after an audit found it claimed money for dozens of students who never logged into an alternative school’s online classes.

The Indiana Department of Education asked state auditors to review the enrollment at the South Bend Community School Corp.’s Rise Up Academy following a complaint that students were not receiving an adequate education, according to a State Board of Accounts report.

Auditors reviewed enrollment and attendance figures dating to July 2018 and found dozens of students counted in the district’s requests for enrollment-based funding who had never logged into South Bend’s online learning platform, the South Bend Tribune reported.

School administrators admit some students’ lack of participation in online learning was overlooked during enrollment counts, and the district has already paid back more than $360,000 in state money.

But the district has disputed claims over some students’ status during the 2018-2019 and 2019-20 school years and is waiting for a final response from the state.

District representatives have supplied state auditors with additional student records and urged the State Board of Accounts to reconsider repayment requests for some students who may have attended in-person activities or transferred between in-person and virtual programs.

“We’re working closely to reach a reasonable conclusion in the matter,” said Todd Cummings, the district’s superintendent.

Rise Up Academy currently serves about 200 students, most of whom are at risk of dropping out of high school or not meeting Indiana graduation requirements. The school offers flexible education programs through in-person, virtual and hybrid settings.

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5 thoughts on “Indiana seeks $620K after audit finds students not online

  1. “The state report seeks repayment for more than $85 million in public dollars inappropriately spent on companies connected to school officials. In the past three years, the two schools sent 83% of their total funding to related companies, the report found.

    According to the report, the misspent funds include more than $68 million that the schools improperly collected from the state — far more than initially reported — by recording inactive students more than 14,000 times over eight years.

    Out of nearly $100 million paid to the schools’ largest vendors, almost every expense raised some type of red flag. The schools hardly ever received details about what they were paying for — sometimes shelling out money for duplicative services — and the school boards “had no meaningful oversight,” the report said.

    The schools paid vendors to recruit 93 teachers and to run 765 background checks on teachers — at a time when the two schools had 54 teachers combined, the state report said. The schools spent money on consulting services for a 401(k) provider, despite not offering or contributing to a 401(k) plan. They hired a political lobbying firm, even though 501(c)(3) nonprofits are limited in their ability to lobby.