Indianapolis schools decline software due to ethics concerns

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indianapolis Public Schools officials have ditched a proposal to buy testing software from a company owned by a district administrator due to concerns regarding conflict of interest.

District leaders pulled the item from the school board's agenda in June after questions from the Indianapolis Star ( ). After delaying action again at July's board meeting, district leaders determined that Tammy Laughner's dual role as CEO of Vimme Learning and an employee of the district was too much of a conflict for her to receive state funding.

Vimme Learning likely would've received thousands of state dollars to supply tests to the schools if the district had moved forward with the plan. The funds would've come from a $12 million-a-year grant program that permits school districts to choose their own testing provider.

Some district officials were concerned that Laughner publicly declaring her ownership in the company wasn't enough, said Mary Ann Sullivan, the district's board president.

"We would want to make sure there was no implied bias or anything like that because of a supervisor," Sullivan said last week.

The schools considering using Vimme Learning were those that Laughner oversaw through the Project Restore program, a turnaround model for struggling district schools.

School board administrator Zach Mulholland said Laughner's position as Project Restore coordinator was so involved with implementing the tests that it would be nearly impossible to separate the two roles.

Laughner will now offer her program to the district for free, which essentially it has done for two years, said James Miller, a Vimme Learning investor. He said the company was "somewhat disappointed" in the district's decision.


Information from: The Indianapolis Star,

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