Nicholas Trombetta, a onetime wrestling coach who founded the wildly successful PA Cyber Charter School, is indicted by a federal grand jury on fraud and tax charges. He is accused of stealing $990,000 from the school.
Federal agents, including the FBI, criminal investigations division of the IRS and the U.S. Department of Education, search Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School's headquarters in Midland, Pa., its accountants' office in Koppel, and properties rented by its spinoffs in Ohio.
Mr. Trombetta announces to his staff that he is retiring from the cyber charter school by June 30, saying he wanted to take time to figure out the next phase of online education. At the time the school's enrollment had grown to 11,300 students and received $103 million in tuition from school districts.
Mr. Trombetta is instrumental in the opening of the $23.5 million Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center in Midland, which will also serve as the home of the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School. Part of the funding for the school included $10 million from the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School and $3 million from the Midland School District. Critics questioned the use of public school money for the project.
Mr. Trombetta launches the National Network of Digital Schools, which he described as the vehicle that would take the programs created in Midland national. Shortly afterward, the PA Cyber board votes to contract with NNDS to manage the charter school in return for 12 percent of its income.
Mr. Trombetta launches Western Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School with 527 students in grades K-12. The school later dropped "western" from its name. Though formed in part as an option for Midland students, just six of the original students were from Midland, the others coming from 54 districts in 17 counties. Mr. Trombetta serves as both Midland public school superintendent and as chief administrative officer of the new cyber school.
Nick Trombetta becomes superintendent of the Midland School District at a time when its high school students are being bused to East Liverpool, Ohio, following the 1986 closing of Midland High School and the refusal of neighboring districts to take the high school students.