September 27, 2017

Hoosier Academies Virtual Charter School To Close In June

A door at Hoosier Academy Virtual Charter School in Indianapolis. - Eric Weddle/WFYI Public Media

A door at Hoosier Academy Virtual Charter School in Indianapolis.

Eric Weddle/WFYI Public Media

The board of the chronically failing Hoosier Academies Virtual School voted Tuesday not to seek renewal of their charter, a decision that will cause the school of 2,000 students to close in June.

John Marske, Hoosier Academies board president, told WFYI News in an email Wednesday that the school had until Oct. 1 to submit a renewal application.

“Although the Board has seen evidence of significant improvement at Hoosier Virtual,” he wrote in an email, “We did not feel the academic data, available as of October 1, 2017, was sufficient to pass the rigors of a charter application process.”

In 2016 Ball State University, the school's authorizer, approved a two-year charter extension with the expectation to see improvements before granting more years of operation. A resolution to not seek charter renewal, approved by the board Tuesday, says its for-profit Virginia-based management company K12, Inc. agreed it was not in students' interest to seek renewal.

Marske says the board’s attention is focused on trying to answer questions from families of the 2,000 students in grades K-12 currently enrolled. More than 120 teachers taught at the school last year, according to state data.

“Our intention is to give our families and teachers as many options as possible,” he says.

Hoosier Academies Virtual earned six consecutive Fs on the state’s accountability scale as of last year — two more than what’s required for state intervention of a charter school. The school provides a 100-percent online education for students across Indiana.

The school recently escaped closure by the State Board of Education who was required to consider sanctions due to years of failing academic performance. Instead, the board capped enrollment at the school’s May 2017 current level and reduced the administrative fee that Ball State receives as the charter authorizer.

At the time State Superintendent of Public Instruction and board chair Jennifer McCormick criticized the school for not following the state’s academic standards and for a policy that led to the expulsion of more than 800 students for truancy during the past three years.

In May, Ball State’s charter office and the school announced a turnaround plan to build a new academic culture at the school. The plan was written, in part, by former Indiana School Chief Tony Bennett.

School leader Byron Ernest, a political appointee to the State Board of Education, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

When Hoosier Academies Virtual opened in 2009 it was Indiana’s first online school. Now, there are four Indiana public schools that offer 100-percent online classes to about 10,000 K-12 students, including some who cite health, social and bullying issues as the reason for choosing online education.

Marske says the Hoosier Academies board will now shift its focus to improving two other schools under its umbrella -- Hoosier Hybrid and Hoosier Insight school in Indianapolis.

Contact WFYI education reporter Eric Weddle at or call (317) 614-0470. Follow on Twitter: @ericweddle.


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