Feds indict six in Alabama virtual schools scheme

Feds indict six in Alabama virtual schools scheme

An indictment unsealed in federal court Tuesday revealed that six individuals, including two former Alabama school system superintendents, have been indicted on conspiracy charges for their alleged roles in a scheme to use virtual schools to improperly alter the flow of state and federal funds to school systems. 

Former superintendents Trey Holladay and Thomas Sisk, who led the Athens and Limestone County districts, respectively, were each indicted on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States. Holladay was also indicted on more than 100 fraud charges. 

Also charged were Holladay’s wife, Deborah, who was also employed by the Athens system; Rick Carter, another Athens City Schools employee; Greg Corkren, a retired Alabama teacher who was previously accused of concocting the scheme; and David Tutt, a former Marengo Academy football coach and administrator. 

Those four were all charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. Corkren faces an additional charge for fraud with identification paperwork. Deborah Holladay also faces six fraud counts. And Carter faces the same 100-plus counts of fraud as Trey Holladay. 

APR previously reported on the joint FBI-Department of Education investigation into virtual schools around the state, which was focused on Limestone and Athens. As part of that scheme, sources told APR, the school systems were entering agreements with private schools — Marengo Academy was specifically identified by two sources — to provide virtual classes to their students. The students would remain enrolled in the private schools but would take courses at the virtual school, allowing the systems to count the students in their attendance records that went toward federal and state funding. 

The indictment claims Holladay was using the excess funds to complete capital projects and pay other expenses. 

The U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, along with representatives from the FBI, DOE and Alabama State Department of Education will hold a press conference Tuesday afternoon to discuss the indictments.

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