K12 Inc., the for-profit, publicly traded online charter school company, has seen its stock price drop precipitously over the last 12 months.
The company began trading publicly in September, 2013 with stock prices at $38 per share. One month later, it drastically dropped to $18 per share, and has not risen since. At latest check, the price was $17.39, a year-on-year drop of 54.2%.
K12 offers online curriculum and educational services to its students across the country through a variety of virtual academies. The school has been beset by problems, including low achievement rates, a high turnover rate with almost one-third of its students leaving the program each year, and complaints of deceptive recruitment strategies.
The corporation was recently found to have lied about student achievements to its shareholders, causing the most recent drop in stock prices. Even more importantly, a number of its schools are closing.
Over the summer, the Tennessee Virtual Academy (TNVA) had been told it would need to un-enroll 600 new students in order to keep the school up and running. However, Tennessee Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman later decided to leave the decision up to the school board.
In the meantime, some parents have chosen to place their children in other schools as the future of TNVA remained unclear.
“We had some districts that believed that maybe the virtual school was no longer open just because of the back and forth and everything. But for the most part, those students are enrolled and we are keeping a very close eye on them,” Union County Director of Schools Dr. Jimmy Carter said.
Carter said the school has created a program that will give each student a mentor in the hopes of improving test scores throughout the academy.
The school needs to show Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) test scores of level 3 or above by the end of the 2014-2015 school year, Huffman said, or the school will be shut down.
“We won’t know what level we’re at until that point… I guess we need to just work closely together and through it. I think the worst thing we can do is put parents in a bad situation so we will work through it to make sure we don’t do that,” Dr. Carter said.
For now, the future of the academy is difficult to predict, as it depends on a variety of factors, including the renewal of the Virtual Public Schools Act by state lawmakers. If it is renewed, Huffman may not have the authority to close the school.
“Previous attorney general (Robert Cooper) said he did have it. We’re thinking, we’ve got a new attorney general (Herbert Slatery) and he’s a Republican … the older one was a Democrat so maybe the attorney general will look at it different,” Senator Frank Niceley said.
The TNVA currently enrolls more than 1,600 students, with the majority of those enrolled coming from Knox County.
In another issue causing bad press for K12, the Florida Virtual School is continuing with a lawsuit alleging trademark infringement against the company.
K12 offers online educational services in the state under the names Florida Virtual Academy and Florida Virtual Program, both of which the company said were approved by the Florida Department of Education in 2003.