SBCSC owes State of Indiana money

Updated: Jun. 4, 2021 at 5:43 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The State of Indiana wants its money back.

The South Bend Community School Corporation is being asked to return more than a half million dollars in overpaid state tuition support.

It all started in July of 2020 with a complaint that students attending Rise Up Academy alternative high school “were not being educated.”

The Indiana Department of Education found “irregularities” at the school and called on the State Board of Accounts to conduct a special investigation.

That investigation was made public this week.

Indiana school districts receive tuition payments from the state based on the number of students enrolled on designed ‘count’ days.

The audit of Rise Up Academy shows that in September of 2018, a total of 19 students were counted as attending virtually despite the fact that they had not yet logged into the school’s computer system, or only logged on after the count date.

According to the report, by September of 2019 a total of 35 virtual students had no login activity or had only logged in after the count date.

By February of 2020, a total of 87 virtual students fit the same profile.

The report concludes: “The School Corporation claimed and received state tuition support totaling $548,728.73 that it was not entitled to due to the lack of documentation supporting enrollment and attendance numbers….”

In May of 2021, the school district made a partial payment to the state of more than $346,000 while filing a response in its own defense.

The document contends that the state has a “different interpretation” of how enrollment should be calculated at an alternative school: That such schools “do not necessarily conduct of complete their studies within the time frames or on the schedules set for traditional educational programs,” and that it seems that in-person attendance was not factored into the state’s analysis.

The investigation is being forwarded to the Indiana attorney general for possible civil action. The report repeatedly warns that funds misappropriated through malfeasance may be the personal obligation of the responsible employee.

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