Poor performing, high-profit virtual charter chain headed for Naperville and other burbs

computermoneyWhile writing the post about the parent trigger proposal sponsored by Naperville Republican Darlene Senger, I noted that there are currently no charter schools in her area but came across this notice of a hearing into a virtual charter school proposal for 18 districts including Naperville:


On February 14, 2013, Naperville CUSD 203 received a proposal to for the operation of a multi-district charter school called Illinois Virtual Charter School @ Fox River Valley. The applicant is seeking to open an online school for students in grades K-12 beginning in the fall of 2013. This proposal has been submitted to 18 local school districts for consideration.

A public hearing will be held at 5:00 pm on Monday, March 18 at the Public School Administration Canter, 203 W. Hillside Road, Naperville. The meeting will consist of a 30 minute presentation and up to 30 minutes of public comment followed by administration comments and questions.

Within 30 days of the public hearing, the school board shall vote, in a public meeting, to either grant or deny the charter proposal.

The IVCS@FRV proposal indicates it will contract with K12 Virtual Charter Schools as its Educational Management Organization (EMO). K12 has a , a company that, according to the New York Times, “tries to squeeze profits from public school dollars by raising enrollment, increasing teacher workload and lowering standards (Online schools score better on Wall Street than in the classroom).

A local Plainfield blog reported on a recent controversy in Tennessee where K12 was charged with directing teachers to delete bad grades to make the school’s results look better.

Here’s more on K12 from the Charter School Scandals blog from Dec 2011:

Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP, a leading national securities law firm, is investigating potential securities fraud at K12, Inc. (“K12” or the “Company”) (NYSE: LRNNews). The investigation focuses on whether the Company and its executives violated federal securities laws by failing to disclose that: (1) according to various academic benchmarks, K12 students were chronically underperforming their peers at traditional schools; (2) K12 has aggressively recruited students to their schools, regardless of how well-suited they might be for the Company’s curriculum; (3) as a result of K12’s haphazard recruiting process, the Company experiences student retention problems resulting in high rates of withdrawal; (4) K12 schools often have far larger student-to-teacher ratios than the Company advertises; and (5) K12 teachers have been pressured to allow students to pass regardless of academic performance, in order to receive federal funds.

On December 12, 2011, after several months of research, the New York Times published an article entitled “Profits and Questions at Online Charter Schools.” The article raised serious concerns about K12’s business practices, alleging that Company schools inflate their student rosters, are underperforming academically, have detrimental student-to-teacher ratios and gain wrongful access to public funds. On this devastating news, K12 shares collapsed almost 24%, closing at $22 per share on December 13.
Alert your friends in the burbs.

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.