INDIANAPOLIS–On Wednesday, State Senator Mark Stoops (D-Bloomington) offered the language from his Senate Bill 431 as an amendment to House Bill (HB) 1066 in the Senate Education and Career Development Committee. In an effort to require more accountability for virtual charter schools, his amendment would have required organizers and authorizers of virtual charter schools to submit a surety bond to remove financial risk from Indiana taxpayers. His amendment would also require authorizers to co-sign loans by charter schools and would have tied enrollment and administrative fees to school performance – which would provide oversight for any debt accumulation and keep schools from reporting false enrollment. Sen. Stoops had the following response after his proposal was voted down by Republicans with a vote 5-8.
“Because of an absolute lack of oversight, two virtual charter schools were able to steal $86 million from taxpayers and students.” Sen. Stoops said. “It’s unacceptable. For the last four years, the supermajority has refused to hear Senate Democratic bills that could have prevented this fraud.
“I truly believe that this recent scandal is just the tip of the iceberg, and by failing to approve legislation that prevents charter schools from being able to rob the state again, Republicans are telling these schools they will continue to look the other way. It’s a shame that Republicans repeatedly reject the opportunity to safeguard Hoosier taxpayers. They deserve better, and their hard-earned tax dollars should go toward educating children, not into the pockets of special interest groups. My Senate Democratic colleagues and I will continue pushing for accountability and transparency from virtual charter schools to protect our taxpayers.”