Chatham schools can't charge parents for online courses
Posted August 24, 2012
Pittsboro, N.C. — Chatham County Schools officials must decide how the district will provide Advanced Placement and Honors courses for high school students after learning Friday that charging parents for the classes is against state law.
Chatham County Schools Superintendent Robert Logan said Friday that the district spent about $47,000 last year paying for online classes and that it seemed fair to ask parents who can afford to pay for the courses to do so as the district looks for ways to save money.
"I'm assuming that parents feel, because we offer it in public school, it is supposed to be free," he said. "Well, it's not free to the school district, and it's not paid for by the state."
"All school districts just don't have the resources to provide every possible course that a child may wish to take," he continued.
Courtney Wicker estimated that she would have had to pay about $500 for her 15-year-old son, Cole, a rising junior at Chatham Central High School, to take an AP psychology course online.
"If my son went to a private school, I would understand," Wicker said. "I would be fine paying whatever I needed to pay, but this is a public school."
The North Carolina Virtual Public School, which ovesees online courses for the state Department of Public Instruction, says that the school system cannot charge.
Logan, who learned about the state statute Friday afternoon, said that he will likely meet with school administrators Monday morning – the first day of school – to discuss how to provide the online classes.
One option they might consider is teleconferencing into classes at other schools if students cannot physically get to the schools, he said.