ISTA Exclusive: Indiana charter school being sued in U.S. federal court
A complaint has been filed in the U.S. District Court against Indiana Cyber Charter School. National Network of Digital Schools (NNDS) is suing the online charter school for non-payment amounting to roughly $600,000. For the last school year according to a recent school funding formula run, Indiana Cyber received $1.3 million in taxpayer money from the State of Indiana, and is due another $1.3 million for next school year.
A copy of the complaint can be found here.
NNDS claims it is owed:
nearly $400,000 for a loan extended to Indiana Cyber
curriculum charges totaling nearly $200,000
$6,700 for computers and equipment
Another interesting detail in NNDS’s complaint is that it says it was mistakenly charged close to $10,000 for healthcare premiums for Indiana Cyber’s employees.
NNDS says that it has only received two payments from Indiana Cyber since entering into a Charter School Operating Agreement with Cyber Charter in 2012. Upon opening, Cyber Charter began using NNDS’s online curriculum “Lincoln Interactive”.
In light of the fact that Indiana Cyber has received a total of $1.5 million from state taxpayers since 2013, it is not clear why the online charter school is unable to pay NNDS as alleged in its complaint.
Indiana Cyber Charter School is an online only charter school serving grades K-12 that opened in 2012. It is chartered and authorized by Education One, LLC, the charter school authorizing body of Trine University.
The school claimed it doubled its enrollment this year to 242 students across the state. The students are served by 3 certified teachers.
Indiana Cyber’s President, Donald Williams, admitted to the Northwest Indiana Times in May that his online charter school received more state tax dollars, per pupil, than traditional public schools which have actual brick and mortar buildings.
Williams estimated the charter's school's per-pupil tuition from the state is approximately $5,000 per student, which is more per pupil than public school districts that have buildings and equipment.
Trine University’s Education One was recently caught denying reports it was organizing a charter with board members of the former Dugger Union Community Schools in southern Indiana. However, a month later Dugger representatives held a joint event with Indiana Cyber Charter.
Trine also operates the Timothy L. Johnson Academy, a charter school in Fort Wayne. The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette recently called for the closing of the charter school after repeated years of poor ISTEP scores.
Read more: Entire complaint including exhibits