Online Charter Schools
Indiana Virtual Schools Close Prematurely
- By Dian Schaffhauser
The Indiana virtual schools facing closure within months appear to have closed immediately. Parents reaching out to the charters, Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy, are running into dead ends. The phone number posted on both schools' websites leads to voice mailboxes that are full and no longer accepting messages.
The sanctioning school district, Daleville Community Schools, was, as one parent who chose to remain anonymous said, "caught by surprise and had no answers.
Yesterday, the district issued an official response, stating that in spite of hearing from charter school Superintendent Percy Clark on July 22 that the schools were currently operating, it also was unable to reach school staff at either virtual school for information. Nor does Daleville have access to student records. Currently, district officials reported that they were "in communication with the Indiana Department of Education and [were] pursuing legal avenues to require the schools to make student records available to parents."
"In the interim, students should be permitted to enroll in their local school district without a transcript and later supply a transcript or evidence of completed coursework when those become available. That evidence could include screenshots of student courses showing the current grades and progress in the course," the statement added. In the meantime, the district noted, the Department of Education "will be sending out guidance to public school district superintendents and school principals regarding virtual school students who are unable to access their educational records tomorrow. Students are urged to contact the school to which they wish to transfer for further information."
The district said that its school board would be holding a special session of the board of trustees on July 25 at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time to consider "charter revocation" for the two virtual schools.
Several current and former employees told Chalkbeat that "most of the support staff" had been laid off and teachers were uncertain whether they should "keep working."
At least one student was still working on assignments, but as a member of his family noted, there's no guarantee that work will be graded or if he'll be able to take his finals.
A message sent by one teacher to students confirmed that both schools "no longer have any employees and the office doors have been locked." The same individual encouraged families to reach out to Daleville, "the brick and mortar who sponsored our online schools."
"It is unfortunate that this has happened to all of us," the teacher wrote. "I enjoyed working with you, and I am proud of you for the time and effort you put into your work."
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.