Florida virtual schools provider K12 (43 school districts)

“State Investigating Virtual Schools Provider K12.” Florida Center for Investigative Reporting (FL), 9/11/2012
The Florida Department of Education has launched an investigation of K12, the nation’s largest online educator, over allegations the company uses uncertified teachers and has asked employees to help cover up the practice.

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...

The state investigation started in January, when a former K12 employee forwarded a series of emails to Seminole County Public Schools officials...

After reading these emails, Seminole County officials followed up with a survey of parents whose kids were enrolled in K12 classes. Parents were given a list of teachers who reportedly instructed their children.

More than one-third of parents said the listed teacher did not teach their child.

Only 36 percent of parents said their child’s teacher was the one K12 had listed. The rest could not be reached or said they couldn’t remember.

The survey and emails prompted Seminole County officials to request that the Department of Education investigate. They warned the state that the problems they uncovered with K12 may be widespread...

K12 has a financial incentive to skirt Florida’s law requiring the use of certified teachers. Simply, K12 can pay uncertified teachers less than certified teachers while collecting the same amount per student from state public school districts, increasing profits for shareholders.

Founded in 2000 by William Bennett, a former U.S. education secretary under President Ronald Reagan, K12 is an $864 million publicly traded company whose stock price has more than doubled in the last year.

In recent years, K12 has increased profits while student performance has suffered, raising questions about whether the for-profit virtual schools provider is making money at the expense of academics.

A July 2012 study by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado found that students at K12 schools fell further behind in reading and math scores than pupils in traditional schools.

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