(photo courtesy Eric Weddle/WFYI)

A judge in Hamilton County has ruled a lawsuit against two former Indiana online charter schools, as well as individuals and companies linked to them, can continue, according to our partners at WFYI. The $154 million lawsuit alleges Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy received millions of dollars from the state after inflating student enrollment numbers.

The lawsuit was filed last July by Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office. According to a 2020 investigation from the State Board of Accounts, the schools reported 14,000 students but with no evidence those students actually attended classes.

The suit says the schools wrongfully received more than $68 million from the state and also paid more than $85 million in public funds to companies and people connected with the schools.

“We’re talking about $154 million in monies misappropriated from the public treasury,” Rokita said Tuesday. “Hoosiers deserve a full accounting, and they deserve to have these funds returned to the state.”

The defendants argued in court last month that the lawsuit should be dismissed because it was not specific enough about the alleged impropriety. Hamilton County Superior Court Judge Michael Casati ruled “fraud is not the lynchpin around which the entire case revolves,” and the alleged inflated enrollment was reason enough for the suit, according to WFYI.

The judge also denied requests to delay the suit from two defendants, former school superintendent Percy Clark and former head of information technology Travis Lynch, who said they may be under federal criminal investigation, though no federal charges have been filed.

You can read more from WFYI education editor Eric Weddle by clicking here.