Online Charter School Passes 1st Approval in North Carolina

The North Carolina board of education is set to give the green light for K12, Inc. to establish the state’s first ever online charter school after the company passes the first stage of approval.

K12, Inc. – the company that is proposing to run North Carolina’s first ever online public school — has lobbyists in nearly all of the 29 states where it has online charter schools ready to convince public school officials on whether the organizations can deliver education that is comparable with state-run schools.

Jeff Kwitowski, a spokesman for the company, said:

“Most education organizations and groups have representation in state capitals and we do too.”

The North Carolina School Boards Association is set to make the case against online charters as the state board of education looks to give K12, Inc. the go-ahead, writes Lisa Miller at WFAE.

Leanne Winner, NCSBA’s chief lobbyist and director of government relations, said:

“The way our funding formulas work in North Carolina for both the traditional public schools and charter schools is that it’s based upon estimated student counts and home school students aren’t included in those counts.”

However, K12 spokesman Kwitowski says that homeschool students are in the minority at most of the charters the company manages.

Kwitowski said:

“In some states especially when the schools have been around for a long time, it can be about 15 to 25 percent.  But the majority of students come from traditional schools.  Students who have been just not succeeding in traditional classroom settings, it’s a good option for them.”

The Virtual Academy aims to serve 2,800 students in its first year. It eventually wants to see statewide enrollment rise to 6,500. If the school hits that target, it would look to receive more than $40 million a year in tax dollars.

Winner doesn’t think this is right. For her, online charters should get less money than traditional charters because they have fewer costs.

“They don’t have expenses like maintaining a campus, she says, and they don’t need as many teachers.”

The state school board has asked the E-Learning Commission for guidance on the issue before it makes the decision whether to give the school the green light.

This comes after Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP, a leading national securities law firm, announced that it is investigating potential securities fraud at K12, Inc.

The investigation will center on whether the company and its executives have failed to disclose that its students have been chronically underperforming compared to their peers at traditional schools, which breaks key federal securities laws.

It is claimed in an article at the New York Times that the company has detrimental student-to-teacher ratios and gained wrongful access to public funds.

Alex Molnar, a research professor at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, said:

“What we’re talking about here is the financialization of public education.

“These folks are fundamentally trying to do to public education what the banks did with home mortgages.”