- Associated Press - Monday, September 28, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Indiana Department of Education will comply with rules governing the distribution of poverty aid to charter schools after federal officials notified the state it shortchanged them in some cases, a spokesman said Monday.

“We want every school to be funded equitably,” spokesman Daniel Altman said. “We’re obviously going to make sure the schools get the money they were supposed to get.”

Federal rules say that states must give districts and charter schools at least 85 percent of their previous year’s allotment of Title I funding for low-income students to keep programs consistent, but the Indiana Charter School Board contended 47 percent of charter schools received allocations this year that declined by more than 15 percent, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported (https://bit.ly/1iX9me3 ).

The U.S. Department of Education notified the state agency last week that “corrective action . will likely be required.”

“The statute and regulations make no distinction” between regular school districts and charter schools, Monique Chism, director of the federal Office of State Support, informed the state agency in an email. The state “circumvented the protection provided by the hold-harmless provisions” for charter schools in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, she said.

State schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz had said that declining enrollment of low-income students at some Indiana charter schools could mean those schools were no longer eligible for the federal aid intended to boost achievement for those students. She asked the U.S. Department of Education for help determining the proper funding levels for such schools.

Ritz’s inquiry came amid an overall reduction in Title I funding and what she called “a significant decrease” in enrollment of low-income students for several charter schools.

“We had a situation that hadn’t come up before,” Altman said.

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