Georgia Cyber Academy: Is virtual charter ignoring real problems with special ed services?

The last time we discussed Georgia Cyber Academy was in response to parent comments about their significant roles as academic coaches under the online school’s instructional model.

Now, it is the state board of education discussing the state’s first online school, suggesting it will pull its charter if it does not improve services for students with disabilities.

Georgia Cyber Academy is part of K12 Inc., a for-profit company that is the nation’s largest virtual school provider with online public schools in 30 states.

The charter school’s parent company has been garnering headlines lately, many of which have not been flattering, including a scathing investigation by The New York Times.

A report released this summer by the National Education Policy Center found that less than 28 percent of K12-run schools were meeting Adequate Yearly Progress during the 2010-11 school year, compared with 52 percent of brick-and-mortar schools nationwide. Georgia Cyber also did not make AYP in 2010-2011

K12 refuted the center report in a lengthy statement.

In the last three months, the company has come under fire in several states, including Florida where the state education department is investigating after several K12 teachers refused to sign class rosters showing students the teachers had never taught.

The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting/StateImpact Florida reported: K12 officials asked state-certified teachers to sign class rosters that included students they hadn’t taught, according to documents that are part of the investigation.In one case, a K12 manager instructed a certified teacher to sign a class roster of more than 100 students. She only recognized seven names on that list. “I cannot sign off on students who are not my actual students,” K12 teacher Amy Capelle wrote to her supervisor. “It is not ethical to submit records to the district that are inaccurate.” The documents suggest K12 may be using uncertified teachers in violation of state law.

In Tennessee, state education commissioner Kevin Huffman said in September that student performance at the K12 Inc.-managed Tennessee Virtual Academy was “demonstrably poor.”

Looking at the school’s report card — which is hard to find because the school comes under the umbrella of Odyssey School — Georgia Cyber Academy did not make AYP in 2010-2011 due to academic performance. The state Report Card lists 6,545 students in the school from kindergarten to grade 9.

The state board is concerned with the academic performance of students with disabilities. And the Report Card shows why.

Of the 320 Georgia Cyber students who took the End of Course Test in Math I,  54 percent failed. In the biology EOCT, 36 percent failed. But those rates jump for students with disabilities; the failure rate on Math I was 70 percent and 57 percent in biology.

On the third grade reading CRCT, 7 percent failed to meet standards. In third grade math, 28 percent failed. But looking only at special needs third graders,  52 percent failed to meet math standards and 9 percent failed in reading

In eighth grade, 2 percent failed to meet reading standards; 26 percent failed math.

But among special needs eighth graders, 12 percent failed reading and 58 percent failed to meet math standards. (Sixty-five percent of eighth graders with disabilities failed to meet social studies standards  and 38 percent failed to meet language arts standards.)

According to the AJC:

State Board of Education members blasted Georgia Cyber Academy officials Tuesday, saying the online school is failing to meet the needs of its special education students.

GCA, Georgia’s first statewide online school, has seen its student population explode in recent years. Its number of special needs students has risen to 1,100 from 600 two years ago, according to the head of the school, Matt Arkin.

Board members said GCA has not increased its capacity to assess and teach its special needs students, despite a repeated push from the Georgia Department of Education. In unusually harsh language for a board that typically supports charter schools, members ripped Arkin and GCA.

“We have very serious concerns,” board member Brian Burdette said. “They have been warned several times that they are out of compliance. They have been given second chance after second chance.”

The board refused to take what would ordinarily be a procedural step in moving a $60,000 funding request from GCA’s board of directors toward approval. Seventeen other such requests were moved toward approval.

Board member Larry Winters reminded Arkin that the board has the authority to withhold other funds from the school “and is not afraid to use these powers.”

“This is the last warning,” he said.

Arkin told board members he and his staff will address their concerns. GCA is a charter school that was approved by the state, giving the state board the power to revoke its charter, a prospect Burdette hinted at Tuesday.

“If you don’t meet these benchmarks, your charter will come before us and you will be putting it in jeopardy,” he said.

In May, Georgia Department of Education officials, reacting in part to complaints from parents, reviewed how GCA assesses and teaches its special needs students and told the school it needed to ramp up its staffing in that area. The department gave the school until the end of August to comply.

The school asked for and received an extension to Nov. 1 to meet those requirements. Arkin said the school has hired 10 to 15 special needs staff members since May.

But department officials said a recent review of the school found that it continues to have a special needs staffing shortfall and other problems in that area.

Board members decided to take the unusual step of publicly criticizing the school and urging it to comply.

“This is not new news,” Burdette said, adding that he and his colleagues on the board do not want to revoke the school’s charter but will if it refuses to acknowledge its shortcomings.

“We are being forced to go a route we don’t want to go,” Burdette said. “They’ve got to get out of the denial phase.”

In an interview after hearing from board members, Arkin said he is not sure why they are unsatisfied. “We have not been anything but cooperative,” he said.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

68 comments Add your comment

mom2two

November 14th, 2012
11:59 am

ill probably get blasted for this comment, but if you have a child with special needs is a cyber academy actually the best way to go? I have a child with an IEP and would never consider a cyber academy for them. I know that there are bullying/social issues with many of these kids, which might make “homeschooling” and “cyber academy” seem like the right thing to do, but how do you meet the needs of these kids ? From what I have seen on how this works the parents have to be involved and the children, with a teachers guidence are self teaching themselves.

Tony

November 14th, 2012
12:04 pm

There are many problems with the K12 Inc. business model. We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg since Georgia’s voters have approved the charter amendment. Expect matters to get much worse before the state realizes they have short-changed.

jd

November 14th, 2012
12:04 pm

The legislature, when not on the lookout for Agenda 21 agents, has mandated that every high school kid take a cyber course — hence the reason K12 and others offering cyber course MUST handle IEP students –

b-dawg

November 14th, 2012
12:07 pm

Oh you mean a warm blooded human teaching your kid is better than a computer…really? who would have thought. And as for the idea of bullying being a reason to cyber-educate a kid…please just tell them “welcome to the real world” and toughen up.

Tired

November 14th, 2012
12:09 pm

Maureen, “special needs” is a broad term. Is there any supplementary information about what types of disabilities are covered?

Maureen Downey

November 14th, 2012
12:11 pm

@JD, Did that law pass? I just checked the history of Senate Bill 289 and thought it stalled in the Senate once it came back from the House.

http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20112012/SB/289

Maureen Downey

November 14th, 2012
12:13 pm

@Tired, I am referring to the students with disabilities as defined by Georgia DOE. These are kid with IEPs.

http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/Curriculum-Instruction-and-Assessment/Special-Education-Services/Pages/default.aspx

indigo

November 14th, 2012
12:20 pm

Most of these parents will be happy if their kids learn the following:

1. The Earth is 6,000 years old.
2. The Earth is flat.
3. Creationism explains how life appeared on Earth.
4. The New Testament is the unerring word of God.
5. Evolution and Science are tools of the Devil and from the pits of hell.
6. Math, biology, reading, etc. are really not important as “we are only strangers here, heaven is our home”.

Ray

November 14th, 2012
12:22 pm

Cyber Academy? Please.

3schoolkids

November 14th, 2012
12:23 pm

Pity this didn’t come out before last week’s Charter Referendum vote since November 1st was the most recent deadline in their non-compliance. Now will we hear from all the state charter supporters how a charter is terminated when a school is failing? They have been out of compiance for three years, when the US DOE mandates correction in one year. How long do they get to continue to fail students and abuse tax dollars before being fired?

lahopital

November 14th, 2012
12:41 pm

I would assume that, in the other states, lying about attendence inflates reimbursement fees, so that is clearly wrong. Are there specifics on what they have or have not done in Georgia? It’s hard to judge a place based on test scores, as low test scores might not indicate a poorly performing school, but simply a school with students who are unable to do well on the tests.

3schoolkids

November 14th, 2012
12:42 pm

@mom2two: No blasting. GCA seemed like the perfect solution for us as my son has a medical condition causing some immune system dysfunction. Implementing a state curriculum at home with services provided seems like a great option to many special needs families. Parents or other adults in the home are supposed to be the learning coach, and the IEP is supposed to be fully implemented (therapies are provided by outside contractors). We did not have the best experience there and did not re-enroll after his first year. I do wish there were notification requirements for all schools if they are under investigation or state mandates to correct deficiencies with IDEA.

Also, I wonder why SACS hasn’t gotten involved? Unless students with IEP’s don’t factor into accreditation status? SACS is the same accrediting agency need to satisfy requirements for Special Needs Scholarship eligibility. If SACS isn’t including the education of special needs students in it’s accreditation approval and monitoring, then why is the state requiring SACS accreditation for schools on the SN scholarship list?

Private Citizen

November 14th, 2012
12:48 pm

Just got a call from a mom who is doing an online course. The teacher gives instruction sheets and the like, online work. She asked me to help and said her mind goes blank. I thought, “aha, the missing link is teaching.” Hey, I’m late. Got to go tutor.

3schoolkids

November 14th, 2012
12:49 pm

Here is a link to a copy of the focused monitoring report from November 2009 outlining GCA’s IDEA implementation strength’s and weaknesses:

http://archives.gadoe.org/DMGetDocument.aspx/GCA_and_Odyssey_Charter_School.pdf?p=6CC6799F8C1371F63F68560A4C99AA8BCC4E659138D35B221077D84A6D145301&Type=D

Private Citizen

November 14th, 2012
12:52 pm

Obviously, traditional sped kids need a supervised nurturing environment, i.e school. Online might work for the high functioning wildcats who get classified as sped because they are unmanageable in general ed classroom. One concern, obviously, is maybe the “sped” classification has been broadened beyond former definitions. Anyway, a thought. Some say sped. classification can be used to try and address kids with basically what I will call personality disorder, repeat need to make chaos. This is different than kids in wheelchairs and the like. I’m not a sped specialist, anything but. Pardon if I say the wrong thing. Nothing but highest respect for the sped. mission.

Atlanta Mom

November 14th, 2012
12:53 pm

How much funding per student does a cyber academy receive? Sorry if I missed this information in the article/links above.

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

November 14th, 2012
1:02 pm

Maureen, Isn’t the second paragraph missing a “not” as in does not improve?

Ed Advocate

November 14th, 2012
1:04 pm

I’d love to slam Cyber Academy and the for-profit company that manages it, K-12, Inc., for this problem, and I think they do share some of the blame. However, I must question why parents want their special ed students in an online school. Is this really the best place for them? I thought it interesting that a poster identifying himself or herself as a dissatisfied parent of a special ed Cyber Academy student commented on Wayne Washington’s AJC story, saying that parents would like to take their child’s money elsewhere. Presumably, since these special ed students are enrolled in a GA public school, they’re eligible for a private school voucher. I wonder if this was the end game of these complaining parents all along. If not, and the parents tried the Cyber Academy in good faith (which may not have been in the best interests of their kids) do we really trust them to make unilateral decisions regarding the expenditure of public dollars at a private school?

Rick L in ATL

November 14th, 2012
1:05 pm

If you’re looking for parents who are ardently pro-charter but willing to oppose ANY for-profit charters in Georgia, look no further. I’m with ya.

I say if you can’t find ten professionals in your school zone who have the dedication and skills to run a school better than the desultory municipal employees who’re running it now, back off and take the thin gruel the government schools are serving you. You don’t deserve a charter. You have to DO THE WORK, not hire some schmoes who are only slightly better than the schmoes you have now.

Does it take special expertise? Don’t make me laugh. The laptop-toting fools we have at APS don’t have any special expertise–only padded resumes and a deep sense of entitlement. If this were rocket science, they’d be disqualified instantly (likely for being unable to spell “science”).

Mary Elizabeth

November 14th, 2012
1:23 pm

From the link, provided above, of an investigation conducted by The New York Times:

“Kids mean money. Agora is expecting income of $72 million this school year, accounting for more than 10 percent of the total anticipated revenues of K12, the biggest player in the online-school business. The second-largest, Connections Education, with revenues estimated at $190 million, was bought this year by the education and publishing giant Pearson for $400 million.

The business taps into a formidable coalition of private groups and officials promoting nontraditional forms of public education. The growth of for-profit online schools, one of the more overtly commercial segments of the school choice movement, is rooted in the theory that corporate efficiencies combined with the Internet can revolutionize public education, offering high quality at reduced cost.”
=============================================

I predict, because of the passage of Amendment One, that there will be more legislation passed in Georgia’s 2013 legislative session which will promote school choice options, possibly including voucher use. Citizens should be aware of, and on guard for, these dramatic changes to traditional public education, and of the political and financial reasons as to WHY this additional legislation may be forthcoming.

Btw, I made a point to see the movie, “Won’t Back Down,” yesterday which was about a group of parents and a few teachers who withdrew from their “union” public school to start a “nonunion” charter school. Having majored in Theatre for a couple of years in college, I can easily recognize a film which is made for propaganda purposes. “Won’t Back Down” was produced mainly for ideological, propaganda purposes, imo, and its propaganda was heavy-handed. That should inform many about the degree of organization in the national movement to dismantle traditional public schools. “Won’t Back Down” was distributed by “Walden Media.” Check it out.

Maureen Downey

November 14th, 2012
1:24 pm

@Attentive, Thanks. Fixed.
@Atlanta Mom, I went to the state site on funding but it only had data on Georgia Cyber — under the Odyssey School name — from 2009. Then, the school reported getting $4,800. At a hearing last year on charter school funding, the state said Georgia Cyber would be getting $5,800 per pupil as a result of the Deal bail-out of commission charter schools.

http://app.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/fin_pack_revenue.entry_form?p_fiscal_year=2009

Beverly Fraud

November 14th, 2012
1:27 pm

@Rick in Atlanta

Saw your post yesterday…it’s utterly perplexing to me how readers have let AJC staffers completely off the hook for their years long shilling for Hall.

Any idea as to why the mindset?

Mary Elizabeth

November 14th, 2012
1:30 pm

About “Walden Media”:

As many well know, names – such as the use of “Walden” (from Thoreau’s “Walden Pond”) – can be deceptive. From Wikipedia, regarding Walden Media:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walden_Media

“The company (Walden Media) is owned by the Christian conservative Philip Anschutz, who has said he expects their movies ‘to be entertaining, but also to be life affirming and to carry a moral message.’ ”

And regarding Philip Anschutz, from Wikipedia:

“In the early 1980s, the Anschutz Ranch, with its 1 billion barrel (160,000,000 m³) oil pocket, became the largest oil field discovery in the United States since Prudhoe Bay in Alaska in 1968. He sold a half-interest in it to Mobil Oil for $500 million in 1982.

For several years, Anschutz was Colorado’s sole billionaire. With his acquisition of land in other Western states, he is thought to own more farm and cattle land than any other single private citizen in the United States.

Anschutz then moved into railroads and telecommunications before venturing into the entertainment industry. In 1999, Fortune magazine compared him to the nineteenth-century tycoon J.P. Morgan, as both men ’struck it rich in a fundamentally different way: they operated across an astounding array of industries, mastering and reshaping entire economic landscapes.’ “

Out the Door

November 14th, 2012
1:30 pm

@Ed Advocate – Many private schools do not accept special needs students. They only want the best and the brightest or those that increase the school’s success in sports!

Angela Palm

November 14th, 2012
1:34 pm

SB 289 did pass. The Senate agreed to the House changes on the final day of the session. The Governor signed it May 1st.

Here is the link to the bill as it passed.

http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/20112012/127888.pdf

Concernedmom30329

November 14th, 2012
1:35 pm

Maureen

When the state passed SB10, the law that authorizes vouchers for students with IEPs to use in private schools, online discussion forums, for parents of children with special needs and learning disabilities, lit up with the idea that parents could more easily get IEPS for their children from a virtual school. they would then that IEP to use to get the voucher.

Part of what I suspect happened was these same parents had no idea how small the voucher amounts would be as compared to the cost of private schools that would actually meet their children’s needs and these parents opted to stay in the virtual school. From the beginning of Odyssey’s path as a virtual school, they have been behind on serving these students.

I would also argue that traditional public schools do a pretty crummy job of educating students with disabilities as well. That is why so many parents are willing to try any other option.

Maureen Downey

November 14th, 2012
1:40 pm

@Angela, But isn’t the mandate removed? As I read it, the state board has to increase options for kids to take online courses not make sure every kid does.
Or, I am reading it wrong?

The State Board of Education shall establish rules and regulations to maximize the number
of students, beginning with students entering ninth grade in the 2014-2015 school year,
who complete prior to graduation at least one course containing online learning

Maureen

Ray

November 14th, 2012
1:43 pm

$4800 to $5800 per student of taxpayer funds to Georgia Cyber Academy. What a massive boondoggle.

Jim

November 14th, 2012
1:57 pm

Maureen, You are correct. The mandate was removed from SB 289 before it was passed.

DeKalb Inside Out

November 14th, 2012
1:58 pm

I’d like to point out a charter school that specializes in students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). They are trying to open in 2014.

http://www.tapestrycharter.org/

TAPESTRY PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL will be an inclusion school designed for students in grades 6-12 who will benefit from a student-driven, experiential, sensory-based learning environment. Tapestry will utilize small, multi-age classrooms with flexible groupings and authentic hands-on learning experiences. This curricular design will allow all children to thrive, but it will be particularly engaging for students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), who are often underserved in the traditional middle and high school environments.

Maureen Downey

November 14th, 2012
2:09 pm

@To all, I asked DOE for some info on spending at Georgia Cyber and they sent me a lot of info, including audits. If you want to review, shoot me an email at mdowney@ajc.com and I will send the stuff to you.

teacher&mom

November 14th, 2012
2:24 pm

Wasn’t K12 a major contributer to the pro-charter amendment folks? I wonder what Ed Lindsey’s organization (Families for Better Schools) has to say about K12’s performance?

Did the $100,000 donation win Lindsey’s silence on K12’s performance?
http://boldprogressives.org/for-profit-education-companies-bankrolling-georgia-charter-school-campaign/

teacher&mom

November 14th, 2012
2:30 pm

Throughout the charter amendment debate we were consistently reminded that charter schools are public schools. Therefore, charter schools, under IDEA, must serve students with special needs. They do not have a choice.

Whether or not a cyber academy is or isn’t an appropriate choice for a special needs student is completely irrelevant. The cyber academy receives public funds and must serve all populations….just like their local public schools.

Anyone see the irony?

Pride and Joy

November 14th, 2012
2:43 pm

b-dawg and his comments are the reason why parents are pulling their kids out of a bricks and mortar school “please just tell them “welcome to the real world” and toughen up.”
When an adult is harassed and bullied in the workplace, we don’t tell them “it’s the real world and toughen up”. People go to jail for assault and get fired for bullying and harrassment.
Since we know that it is not right to do it to adults, surely we know it isn’t right to do it to kids. Looks like b-dawg missed that life lesson and is likely raising little bullies of his or her own.

Pride and Joy

November 14th, 2012
2:45 pm

teacher & mom are spot on. If the cyber academy doesn’t help special needs students, it cannot get public funds.
And just like that, when a charter cyber academy isn’t doing what it should — it is investigated and will be closed, as it SHOULD be.
BUT why aren’t traditional public schools held to the same standard?
ALL public schools receiving public tax money MUST be held accountable.

SGA Teacher

November 14th, 2012
3:21 pm

And THIS is exactly what I predicted would happen. Charter schools are great, but when they take students, real students, suddenly the aura and mystique drops significantly.

The exact same thing would happen in a private school, but private schools will shuffle the special needs kids out the door really quickly if they do not perform. Can’t do that in a public school.

Bring on the charters! Fill them to the brim with ALL students and then pass the popcorn.

Ed Advocate

November 14th, 2012
3:22 pm

Agree with Teacher & Mom and Pride & Joy about the responsibilities of ALL public schools, including Cyber Academy and other charter schools. The unhappy parent’s comments (or the commentor portraying herself as a C A parent, anyway) just made me wonder about the parent’s reason for enrolling a sp ed student in C A, and what the parent might hope to gain with a private school voucher.

Batgirl

November 14th, 2012
3:22 pm

@Mary Elizabeth, thanks for the information.

In the next legislative session, look for a push for a parent trigger law, which may have already been discussed here, as well as a repeal of the Blaine amendment which currently keeps public funds out of the hands of religious schools.

Ed Advocate

November 14th, 2012
3:30 pm

@ Batgirl: I fear your predictions will come to fruition. With a supermajority in the Senate and probably in the House (if Independent Rep. Rusty Kidd caucuses with R’s), legislators can repeal the Blaine amendment. And Ed Lindsey has already said publicly that he’s reintroducing a parent trigger bill.

Mary Elizabeth

November 14th, 2012
3:37 pm

Batgirl, 3:22 pm

You are most welcome. Citizens must not fail to see that Amendment One was about more than improving instruction. I hope that most Georgians will continue to agree with me that public education must not be turned over to private enterprise. Profit, in my opinion, is not a lasting, nor a substantial, foundation on which to build public education, for all of our young.

Concernedmom30329

November 14th, 2012
3:43 pm

DeKalb Inside Out

GA doesn’t allow “boutique” charter schools. All lotteries must be conducted blind. So, while their intention may be to serve students on the spectrum, if they have small classes, you better believe that there is going to be a lot of competition for the seats.

3schoolkids

November 14th, 2012
4:11 pm

Here is a link to the Southern Povery Law Center’s complaint to the Justice Department on Georgia’s treatment of special needs students. Please read it if you really want to understand IDEA and how special needs students are categorized and funded.

http://cdna.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/downloads/case/110911_DOJ_Complaint_GA_SPED.pdf

Also, enrolling in GCA is not the “golden key” to getting a private voucher. You only need one year in ANY Georgia public school in order to qualify for the Special Needs Scholarship. Do parents choose GCA out of frustration with their local schools? I did. But it wasn’t to get my evil hands on taxpayer money for a private school. GCA did provide another option, just not a good one.

DeKalb Inside Out

November 14th, 2012
4:23 pm

ConcernedMom,
Excellent point. They don’t have a charter published yet, but they did mention an inclusion school. There’s no way they can keep classes small unless they get a lot of IEP QBE money. I’m curious to see how this goes down. I like the idea of boutique charter schools.

3schoolkids

November 14th, 2012
4:49 pm

@Dekalb Inside Out:

Most of the existing state charter schools are already “inclusion” schools. If the special needs student is served in a general ed classroom, even with assistance, that is “inclusion”. If you read the link I provided above, you will see that the inclusion model would make it more difficult for a charter school to receive IDEA funding as you must have a certain number of special needs students in a general ed class in order to receive the markup percentage in funding. If they are enrolling by lottery, there is no guarantee they will have enough students per grade level to receive funding. That would explain why they would want “multi grade level” classes.

That would also explain why many charters have funding difficulties. They have to provide services to students who enroll with an IEP. How could they estimate from year to year, how many students they will have with IEP’s? When you are planning a budget and classroom assignments and you don’t have enough special needs students in a regular classroom to meet the funding ratios what are you going to do? Combine grade levels or create a special ed class and don’t use the inclusion model. Either way the parent is not deciding placement, the school is. So much for choice.

DeKalb Inside Out

November 14th, 2012
5:06 pm

3schoolkids,
I don’t know anything about IDEA funding. That doc was 23 pages and it didn’t come up with anything when I searched for ‘IDEA’. I just know that some IEPs get as much as 6 times the QBE funding as the standard child. I assumed that was how they hope to get the extra money. I’m very curious to see how this ends up working.

So much for choice? I don’t know what you are referring to. What choice are you talking about and who claims to have it?

The Deal

November 14th, 2012
5:26 pm

I wholeheartedly agree with Pride and Joy. It’s interesting how all of the focus is on Georgia Cyber Academy, when there are tens of schools right here in DeKalb that do not serve their special ed students. I myself do not understand how a cyber academy is supposed to address some of the more severe SPED cases, but maybe I just don’t know enough about the details. I don’t think it can be expected to be successful for some of the SPED children I have seen. So, this will turn into a continuation of the charter school amendment debate. Move past it. It passed. Why don’t all of you who are criticizing GCA also stand up for the SPED kids not being served in the school that is 2 miles from your house? It is happening right under your nose and, in my opinion, there is less of an excuse for the brick and mortar schools to be failing.

3schoolkids

November 14th, 2012
5:37 pm

@Dekalb Inside Out:

Didn’t you make this statement? “There’s no way they can keep classes small unless they get a lot of IEP QBE money.”

Why would you make that statement unless you understand how the funding is documented and paid? The link might be 23 pages long but if you want to understand how it works you should read it. It is the best description I have seen of how special needs funding is calculated.

3schoolkids

November 14th, 2012
5:57 pm

I agree, ALL Georgia schools should be held accountable when they are out of compliance with Federal Law. The article references GCA, not Dekalb County. I’m certainly not defending Dekalb County but saying a school doesn’t serve their special needs students and having audits and compliance documents outining specific non-compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) within GCA is different.

Michelle

November 14th, 2012
5:58 pm

I have to add something to this conversation. I have seen parents of problem children, who have skipped school and missed too many days to pass, allow their kids to stay home and do absolutely nothing. Then when the truancy officer comes around to check, or the kid gets into trouble with police, the parents claim the kid to be enrolled in GCA. It is extremely simple to enroll the kid with only a phone call and limited documents fax to where ever. We all know a telephone call is much easier than appearing before a Juvenile Court Judge. This is one of the reasons the failure rate is so high.

I have 2 sons actually enrolled in GCA, and I can state that the curriculum is wonderful, and above the level of the public schools in my area. The teachers are more than qualified. Every teacher I have run across with GCA has been more than willing to assist any child, in any way possible.

Admittedly, I too wonder if all of this mess being brought up by the AJC and DOE is not just fall out from the recent vote on the Charter School Amendment. Wouldn’t all the tax dollars, from all the school boards, in all the counties, be welcomed in Atlanta, along with all of those new jobs, etc. While the rest of the state sits by with no control over their area schools what-so-ever, or the tax dollars paid in, those cronies at the state level would be really cleaning up!

Cobb Parent

November 14th, 2012
6:40 pm

Georgia Cyber Academy is owned and operated by K12-a publicly traded stock company on the NYSE. The management team are all Wall Street vets – CEO is a former director with Goldman Sachs. K12 is focused 100% on profit not the education of children.

Our ALEC goose stepping Georgia Legislature – Chipper Rogers, Ed Lindsey, Jan Jones, Tricky Deal plus most other GA Republicans are all card carrying ALEC members. Follow the money ladies and gentlemen the Ed Corporations are pushing this agenda to privatize public schools via Charter Amendments. Tax Payer Dollars = Huge Profits with no accountability.

Get your head out of the Faux News, Hannity, and Boortz spectrum and look around to see what is happening to public schools. Skewed biased reports, studies, etc. comparing Georgia pubic schools (apples to oranges) like the SAT rankings. Georgia has the top 3 participation rate for the SAT vs. so called great scoring states like Iowa and South Dakota who only let their Top 3 percent take the test. Of course numbers reflect better for the states who restrict SAT testing.

Public schools have to take any child who walks in their door – Charter, Private, etc. do not. And do not start comparing U.S. schools to other countries again unless you compare apples to apples. Get past the propaganda and dig past the sound bytes you will be shocked at what is being done to undermine public schools.

I believe there is a place for all types of schools-public, charter, and private just not in the hands of Wall Street. Do you want your children’s future and your tax dollars going to the good old boys who caused the Great Recession?