Joint Call To Action – Require State Board of Accounts audits for state-funded schools

by | Feb 29, 2020 | 2020 Legislative Session, Charter Schools, Indiana Legislature, Privatization, School Funding

After $85 million of taxpayers’ money was wasted by operators and authorizers of Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy, it is obvious the limited protections and safeguards currently in place failed to protect Hoosier taxpayers.

ICPE, AFT Indiana, ISTA and Indiana PTA urge the Indiana General Assembly not to wait another year before taking action. To protect taxpayers’ money and, most importantly, to protect students, we ask the General Assembly to adopt one additional requirement for charter schools.

If you agree, please contact your state Senator and Representative as soon as possible and urge them to add this language to a current bill:  All Indiana schools that accept State funds for tuition support must be audited annually by the Indiana State Board of Accounts rather than merely a private examiner chosen by the school.

See details in the document below.

Click here to find contact information for your legislators.

The following organizations, representing Indiana taxpayers, concerned citizens, parents, students, teachers, school administrators and school board members,  call upon the Indiana General Assembly to enact more stringent requirements for charter schools to protect taxpayers’ money and, most importantly, to protect students.

 

Additional transparency and accountability for charter schools is more important than ever with the recent revelations of $85 million of taxpayers’ money wasted by operators and authorizers of Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy by fraudulently claiming 14,000 students who did not take or complete classes, plus costs of the related investigation.  Any limited protections and safeguards currently in place were insufficient and failed to protect Hoosier taxpayers.

 

To ensure Indiana taxpayers are protected by safeguards necessary to maximize their tax dollars allocated to educate Indiana students, our organizations urge the General Assembly not to wait another year before taking action. Acknowledging that the close of the 2020 session of the Indiana General Assembly is near, we ask you to adopt this first step to strengthen the accountability:

 

All Indiana schools that accept State funds for tuition support

must be audited annually by the Indiana State Board of Accounts

rather than merely a private examiner chosen by the school.[i]

 

Paying for these audits would be the schools’ responsibility, in accordance with current law and practices.

 

Schools would still be allowed to contract with a third party for audits for their own purposes, but third-party audits not subject to public scrutiny would no longer be acceptable for the authorizing body to assure these schools are using tuition support funds appropriately.

 

Our organizations stand ready to work with the Indiana General Assembly and other governmental units to develop additional reasonable protections and policies going forward to ensure a misuse of funds of this magnitude does not happen again. Other states, such as Massachusetts, have been more diligent in their requirements for charter schools, and Indiana can learn from their examples.

 

LIST OF ORGANIZATIONS

Indiana Coalition for Public Education

American Federation for Teachers – Indiana

Indiana Parent Teacher Association (PTA)

Indiana State Teachers Association

February 28, 2020

[i] IC 20-24-8-5(1) and IC 5-11-1-9 require charter schools to be audited by the State Board of Accounts.  However, IC 5-11-1-7(b) permits the school to utilize a private examiner of the school’s choosing to conduct the audits required by IC 5-11-1-9.