SOUTH BEND, Ind. — 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 Corporation’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.