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IDOE To Continue North Lawrence Career Center Investigation
Updated June 8, 2018 7:35 AM | Filed under: Education
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(BEDFORD) - North Lawrence Community Schools administrators and counsel are still "trying to digest and absorb" the Indiana Department of Education's findings from their preliminary audit of the North Lawrence Career Center.

"I was very disheartened, I was very disappointed, because we're a better corporation than that. It affects our kids and I want to make sure our kids have good opportunities. I want to make to make sure they're very important, in fact they're the most important reason why we're doing what we do," said North Lawrence Schools Superintendent Gary Conner on his reaction to the audit results.

Superintendent Conner requested the audit in March in response to allegations of reporting irregularities at the North Lawrence Career Center.

"I think it has compromised the integrity of the program... We need to immediately address all the issues that the Department of Education brought to our attention; the corrective measures that need to be taken... Its important to get this program back on its feet because it is a vital, critical resource to this community," said Donna Petraits, Executive Director of the Indiana School Public Relations Association.

Click here to see audit results.

IDOE will continue investigating the North Lawrence Career Center and may uncover more findings against the NLCC that could add the total to be reimbursed to the state or find evidence in favor of the career center.

"Because they are very clear that this is an interim audit and so they're still in the process of finding information and of course they will turn it over to the state board of accounts so there will a larger fiscal audit that will involved... And we will continue to respond to whatever they find and what the corrective actions are," said Petraits.

The findings of the preliminary audit found about $450,000 of grant money that was not used properly as outlined in the grant. The funds are to be reimbursed back to the state within 90 days from the time of the audit.

"We're going to generate the funds. I want to make sure the programs at the career center will not be affected, but I also want to make sure it will not negatively affect any other services that we provide kids within this corporation... My first and top priority will be to serve the kids. Those programs will not be compromised. I want parents to assurance to have the assurance that we're going to do things the right way and even a better way." said Superintendent Conner.

The audit results detailed a number of teachers that were not appropriately licensed to teach CTE courses. Superintendent Conner, Petraits and counsel assured that all teachers are licensed to teach, but lacked the correct licenses to teach on that specific content.

Two dual-credit courses were flagged due to a lack of documentation proving the teachers were properly credentialed to teach the higher education classes. Duel-credit courses offer the chance for high school students to gain college credit in high school, but for that to be awarded the instructor must possess the same qualifications as faculty that would be employed at the post-secondary institution.

The students that just graduated from the Class of 2018 are granted their dual-credits, but for all others, it is at the desecration of the post-secondary institution to grant the college credit.

"If its determined that student would receive high school credit but not college credit, then the student would be allowed to take the course again if he or she would like to," said Superintendent Conner.

The dual-credit courses are offered to students for a price. Superintendent Conner said they are working with the institutions to see if students will be reimbursed for their courses, should they not receive the dual-credit.

As for the staff members that submitted false reports, such as grades and/or attendance, their actions and the findings from the audit will be submitted to the Prosecutor and Attorney General. As of now, it is not known if any action will be taken against them.

Moving forward there will be many changes and procedures set in place to ensure this will never happen again.

Superintendent Conner and Lawrence County Community Schools have stated that they want to be transparent through the entire process.

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