The state is handing down a series of corrective action requirements for a career center school in Bedford after a local school superintendent called for an audit earlier this year.
The Indiana Department of Education found the North Lawrence Career Center violated several rules while using federal and state money. Now, the districts that use the center have to help pay back nearly half a million dollars to the state.
Despite the hefty payment, North Lawrence Community Schools Superintendent Gary Conner says he’s determined to protect programs and his district’s students.
“I am not going to compromise our kids. They were not the ones responsible for this, and because of this they should not have any negative impact because of it,” he says.
The federal grant offers funding for schools to help buy supplemental materials like equipment, but those dollars come with guidelines on how schools can use the money, and how the state should monitor them. More than 50 unique career and technical education (CTE) districts across the state receive special funding, and the state audits around 10 of those schools a year.
The investigation so far found that some teachers were instructing CTE courses without the proper licensure at the career center. Students also received credits for required courses they didn’t take, and dual-credit coursework was not processed or instructed properly.
Federal funding requirements also mandate the creation and use of an advisory board made up of community members and local business for CTE programs, but the department found no evidence that one exists for the career center.
Conner asked the state to audit the school after hearing concerns reported from high school personnel. He says he’s more than troubled by what the department has found so far.
“I expect things to be done appropriately and I expect us to provide the best services for our kids. When we compromise either one of those, that’s unacceptable on my watch,” he says.
A statement from the Department of Education says the investigation into North Lawrence is ongoing and could lead to more monetary fines. The current total owed back to the state exceeds $449,000.