State school board wants to keep virtual school from opening

Posted June 25, 2012 1:28 p.m. EDT
Updated June 25, 2012 6:55 p.m. EDT

— A Superior Court judge in Wake County heard arguments Monday about whether a virtual charter school can operate in North Carolina.

The North Carolina State Board of Education, the North Carolina School Boards Association and dozens of local school boards across the state want Judge Abraham Penn Jones to overturn Administrative Law Judge Beecher Gray's ruling in May that allows the North Carolina Virtual Academy to begin operations in August.

The state school board says it wants to study virtual schools and develop standards and policies that address "the distinct and novel challenges" they pose.

The online school – a first for the state – would be managed by K12 Inc., a for-profit Virginia company that manages online schools in 29 states.

Even though the school's application was approved only by the Cabarrus County Board of Education, students across the state, in grades as early as kindergarten, would be able to enroll.

Plaintiffs say that it would also take away public funding from traditional brick-and-mortar schools. The virtual school would receive the same amount of public funding per pupil, even though it costs less to operate than a traditional school.

With an anticipated enrollment of about 2,700 students, the virtual charter school would potentially draw $18 million in government support away from public school systems across the state.

Jones said he plans to rule on the matter Friday.