STEP UP

Virtual Schools in Indiana Accused of Trying to Use Special-Education Funds on Hawaii Trip

Two Indiana virtual schools may lose their charters after a visit from top education officials revealed that the schools were failing to properly serve more than 600 students with special-education needs. According to a letter from the state, Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy had a total of 616 students with disabilities, but only three teachers and two counselors were assigned to them. The failure to meet the needs of students with disabilities was one of several reasons why the online schools’ oversight agency started the process of revoking their charters—a decision that the schools pledged to fight on Tuesday. The education officials also detailed requests from the schools to use public special-education funds to reimburse employees’ travel expenses and pay for a trip to Hawaii.

Online schools across the country are serving a growing number of special-education students, who often seek out the alternative learning environment. However, students with disabilities often require extra services, such as one-on-one attention and specific therapies, some of which are a challenge for virtual schools to offer.