JEFFERSON CITY, MO – The National Coalition for Public School Options (PSO) last week sent a joint letter with the Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri and the Missouri Education Reform Council to the Missouri State Board of Education (SBOE) urging important action to ensure school choice is protected as intended by the Missouri Course Access and Virtual School Program (MOCAP).
While MOCAP gives parents the option to enroll students in virtual courses or full-time online programs, some school districts have abused their veto power by arbitrarily blocking enrollment for parents and students without cause, while others have simply refused for months to either approve or deny parents’ applications.
The SBOE has proposed a rule change that would require school districts to respond to applications within 30 days. While we are pleased that the SBOE recognizes a deadline should exist, 30 days is too long for families to wait, especially as a significant number of parents are considering full-time online learning programs for their child due to COVID-19 concerns. In the letter, the groups encourage the SBOE to consider reducing the application review time to seven days or less if the district typically processes enrollment requests in less time.
“A parents’ choice should be valued and protected, especially during a pandemic,” said Jordan McGrain, Executive Director for PSO. “While we applaud the SBOE for recognizing the barriers and for taking steps to address parents’ concerns, this public health crisis requires timely and decisive action.”
“A month is an incredibly long time for a student and family to be left waiting,” continued McGrain. “We urge the SBOE to reduce the application response time to seven days, giving parents more time to make the best educational decision to protect the health and safety of their family.”