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The School Says It’s Not A Virtual Charter. State Legal Experts Aren’t So Sure

By Jeanie Lindsay, IPB News | Published on in Agriculture, Education, Government
The school's farm campus is located in Morgan County. (Photo courtesy of Indiana Agriculture and Technology school)
The school's farm campus is located in Morgan County. (Photo courtesy of Indiana Agriculture and Technology school)

An agricultural-focused charter school is under scrutiny from the Indiana State Board of Education (SBOE), because according to the board’s legal counsel the school is operating like a virtual charter school when state law says it shouldn’t be.

The Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson United School Corporation (NHJ) authorized a farm-focused charter school last year.

The school, Indiana Agriculture & Technology School, marketed itself as a virtual school tied to a farm campus, but school districts like NHJ can only authorize charters within their district boundaries. Pushback from the SBOE then prompted school leaders to say it would move away from the virtual model and conduct more than half of instruction time in a brick and mortar school.

But SBOE executive director Brian Murphy says after the school applied for a charter school grant that virtual schools aren’t allowed to access, legal counsel took a closer look. And according to that review, Murphy says the school seems to be operating as a virtual charter school, in violation of state law.

“He said they failed to meet a burden of evidence showing that they’re a non-virtual and operating within their boundaries solely,” Murphy says.

The board sent a notice of violation to the school, outlining a corrective action plan. The school has until Tuesday next week to respond to the board.

Contact Jeanie at jlindsa@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @jeanjeanielindz.