They also were concerned about being held liable for students who were not in the county. Lawyers advised county officials that they could be held responsible if special education plans were not upheld, for example.
“We had more than 350 students in the program, and only five were Carroll County students,” School Superintendent Strader Blankenship said. “We were spending a lot of time on students that were not Carroll County students.”
The situation in Caroll County has renewed calls for the state legislature to find a more permanent solution to funding and operating statewide virtual schools.
The General Assembly has debated for several years how to pay for students who move between districts and make the jump from traditional schools to computer-based schools. There are questions about the fair price for educating students who don’t need classrooms, school lunches or bus rides and about who should foot the bill.
The parents say they want a lasting answer.
“It’s one year to the next,” said Rachelle Berry-Bissessar, an Ashburn mother with two sons enrolled at the virtual academy and a third she was hoping to enroll in the fall. She said she is tired of holding her breath every spring when the K12 contract comes up for renewal.
She opted for the virtual academy after her oldest son had a bad year in first-grade at a neighborhood school in Fairfax County, where the family lived at the time.
“I sent him off to school already reading and enthusiastic,” Berry-Bissessar said. “By November, he was in tears every morning, and by January, he did not want to go any more.”
After she started teaching him at home through the virtual academy, he blossomed again academically and emotionally, she said.
“I think it’s really unfair to remove this option for the kids that it’s working for,” she said.