Fake students? Paris Academy online school closes amid fraud investigation
(7/10/2018) - The Paris Academy online charter school has closed as Michigan State Police continue a months-long fraud investigation into possible inflated enrollment numbers.
State Police Lt. David Kaiser said investigators launched the case in May after audits showed dozens of students claimed in enrollment figures may never have taken classes with the school.
"What we noticed during their audit, there were many people registered for this online academy who actually did not attend the school," he said.
The Michigan Department of Education has two count days for each school district, including charter schools, and funding from the state is based on the number of students attending the school.
"Based on those fraudulent numbers, they received an awful lot of money for students that never attended the academy," Kaiser said.
The Paris Academy has been in operation for two years. It operates out of a house converted into offices in Saginaw Township and another facility in Genesee County.
Nancy Paris started the school, which was authorized by the Genesee School District in Genesee Township. The school district recently cut ties with the academy.
About 30 staff members were employed by the cyber school, but the number of students enrolled was not clear. Parents of students received a letter on June 29 announcing the closure.
"It does take a little bit of time to interview all these different students that allegedly attended this school online," Kaiser said.
He said results of the investigation will be sent to the Saginaw County Prosecutor's Office for possible criminal charges.