In re Todd Academy

The Todd Academy, Inc. (founded and operated by Sharon Todd, also the owner of Todd Academy Fundamentals, Inc.) was a private school dedicated to serving the unique educational needs of the gifted and talented. Unfortunately, its laudable mission was lost in a haze of mismanagement and deceit.

Examples include:

  • Not paying employees, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid wages and wage claim damages.
  • The Todd Academy and Ms. Todd fell under the investigation of the Indiana Attorney General, the Indiana Health Department, the Indiana Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, due to myriad violations of the law.
  • Numerous unsafe practices, including allowing or not appropriately dealing with:
    • faculty members taking students off campus without parental permission, and in over-loaded cars without enough safety belts;
    • allegedly criminally negligent behavior amounting to driving to endangerment; and
    • adults who have no connection to Todd Academy interacting with the students in a way that was verbally abusive (harassing students when not in class, commenting on their dress and behavior, etc.).
  • No adult supervision of students when a faculty member was absent or had left the school.
  • Inappropriate provision of substitute teachers (including, at times, no substitutes at all), which included individuals with inadequate or no criminal or DCS background checks.
  • Allowing multiple students to remain in the room for a whole class period with no adult in attendance.
  • Unlocked, unmonitored external doors, allowing for open, immediate, direct access to the students from anyone on the outside, at any time.
  • Inadequate or nonexistent lockdown procedures.
  • Inadequate or nonexistent seclusion and restraint policies or procedures.
  • Inadequate or nonexistent upkeep of grade books and assignments.
  • Inappropriate sharing and disclosing of student personal, medical, educational and financial information; no confidentiality.
  • A lack of intelligence testing, which was assured at the time of admittance to the school.
  • Lack of sufficiently educated staff; students were often taught by under-educated faculty, only two of whom had a master’s degree and some of whom had nothing more than a high school degree.
  • Inconsistent ISTEP testing and End of Course Assessments, coupled with low passing scores overall.
  • An unsafe building, including:
    • No hot water, leading to unsafe, unsanitary bathroom and dining facilities
    • No central heating system, resulting in educational under-performance and dangerous conditions with space heaters in learning spaces.
    • No air-conditioning, resulting in educational under-performance.
    • Non-compliance with ADA, including no elevator, no ramps, no hand-rails and no vertical lifts for chairs.
    • Leaking roof, resulting in water and moisture problems in the building.
  • Providing intentionally misleading information to parents and other supporters of the school relating to the financial status of the school, renovation work, status of the faculty and administration, etc.
  • A revolving door of teachers and staff resulting in many subjects being untaught, sometimes for months on end.
  • Making grandiose—and demonstrably false—claims to parents in the application process about the quality of education and services available at the Todd Academy.
  • Repeatedly and consistently promising to deliver on prior promises, without any plan or intention to deliver.

The cases against the Todd Academy (some of which are still ongoing) include:

  • One brought by its former lawyer for nonpayment of legal fees (Thrasher Buschmann & Voelkel PC vs. Todd Academy Inc, et. al., 49D13-1205-PL-019843);
  • One brought by its contractor to help renovate the building, which also involves its landlord (Johnson-Melloh Solutions, Inc. v. Todd Academy Inc. et al, 49D10-1402-CC-003130);
  • One brought by a lender (Patrick Hughes v. Todd Academy et al, 49D03-1405-PL-018008); and
  • Six brought by nine former teachers for nonpayment of wages (Jerry Shoup v. Todd Academy, et al, 49D07-1311-PL-040654; Leslie Archiga v. Todd Academy, et al, 49D03-1410-PL-035019; Green v. Todd Academy, et al, 49D14-1505-PL-016531; Bonner v. Todd Academy, et al, 49D10-1506-PL-018471; Greasel v. Todd Academy, et al, 49D11-1506-CC-020239; and Bruning, et al, v. Todd Academy, et al, 49D03-1508-CC-025739).

The Hon. Gary Miller, judge of Marion County Superior Court No. 3, judicially dissolved Todd Academy, Inc. and Todd Academy Fundamentals, Inc. effective as of October 9, 2015, protecting students, their families and teachers from further harm. However, even after the school was dissolved, teachers and creditors were not paid, nor were they compensated for interest or costs incurred in the efforts they put forth to obtain their rightfully owed monies.

In November 2016, Sharon Todd, Todd Academy, Inc. and Todd Academy Fundamentals, Inc. settled with many of the teachers who had brought cases against her, admitting liability for its actions and agreeing to pay back wages, liquidated damages, attorney fees, and court costs.