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An in-depth look by I-News - a Colorado-based nonprofit investigative news collaborative, Education News Colorado, and KUNC at the state’s online K-12 schools. Topics include: online K-12 school performance, state- and district-level oversight, and for-profit Education Management Organizations, such as K12 Inc.

Colorado Virtual Academy’s District Charter in Jeopardy

KUNC File Photo

The future of the state’s largest virtual K-12 school may be in jeopardy. With its charter set to expire later this year, Colorado Virtual Academy needs to find an authorizer, or shut down over the summer.

After a rejection from the Colorado Charter School Institute, COVA submitted a charter renewal application to its current authorizer, Adams 12 Five Star school district. But district staff recommended last week denying that application.

In addition to academic performance concerns, Adams 12 Five Star staff articulated other compliance issues at the school, which currently serves more than 4,600 students across the state. COVA contracts with the for-profit management company, K12 Inc to oversee the day-to-day operations of the school. Issues include:

Opportunities for English Language Learners. A Department of Justice audit conducted in 2012 cited serious concerns regarding COVA’s services for English language learners. According to Adams 12 Five Star, COVA translates very limited materials into Spanish and “uses Google Translate for all other languages.”

COVA Board Leadership. “Questions exist regarding the governing board’s capacity to carry forth COVA’s mission and vision.” There are also concerns about K12 Inc’s “exertion of undue influence” on board members.

Special Education Services. A spring 2012 audit found that COVA was out of compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Act and Colorado’s Rules for the Administration of Exceptional Children’s Act in six areas.

Noncompliance with Colorado Financial Transparency Act. COVA failed to post several financial documents on its web site.

COVA sets forth its argument for charter renewal here.

Ultimately, it’s up to Adams 12 Five Star’s school board to decide whether COVA will continue operating within the district—COVA still has the option of working with another Colorado school district.

The board is set to meet January 16 to discuss the issue with COVA officials. A decision is expected February 6.

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