Pasco School Board denies controversial charter school application
Citing concerns about the applicant's known performance, the Pasco School Board on Tuesday rejected K12 Inc.'s request to open a virtual charter school in 2013.
District staff had recommended approval of the charter, saying that the applicants had met the letter of the law. But they acknowledged the shortcomings of the company, which is under investigation by the Florida Department of Education and the SEC for issues such as using uncertified teachers. The NCAA also has stopped accepting course credits from a K12 subsidiary.
Such issues raised red flags for board members. Alison Crumbley made the motion to deny the application, despite the administration's recommendation.
"They are very serious concerns … that need to be resolved ... before the students in Pasco County are exposed to this," Crumbley said.
Board members Cynthia Armstrong and Steve Luikart leaned toward approving the charter, to avoid a legal battle, but with the insistence that the applicant fix its problems before the board would approve a contract. But after chairwoman Joanne Hurley joined Crumbley in opposition, saying the "occurrences outside give me pause," the board unanimously supported Crumbley's motion.
The board also turned down a similar application from K12 Inc. a year ago.
UPDATE: Paul Hull, chairman of the Southwest Florida Virtual Charter School Board, issued a statement about the board's denial about five hours after the decision. "We're disappointed that the Pasco school board did not follow the recommendation of its own staff today," he said via e-mail. "We've been looking forward to working with the school district to provide students this innovative educational option that is both needed and wanted. While virtual instruction isn't for everybody, for some it's very important, and its time has come. We will continue to explore every avenue to make our programs available for Pasco families." Earlier in the day, a group representative refused to comment as he left the board meeting.