Parents testify before joint legislative committee on experiences enrolling in online programs provided under Missouri Course Access and Virtual School Program (MOCAP)
JEFFERSON CITY, MO (August 19, 2020) — Today Missouri parents and the National Coalition for Public School Options (PSO) testified before the Missouri State Legislature Joint Education Committee on the attempts being made by local school districts to unlawfully block thousands of families from accessing the online school of their choice as guaranteed under the MOCAP law.
Compelling evidence and specific cases of legal violations across the state were presented to the Committee, including:
- Districts refusing to even acknowledge or act upon parent applications;
- Districts setting up cumbersome processes for MOCAP enrollments in violation of the clear statutory requirement that they use their “typical process” for enrollment;
- Districts denying parents the right to legal counsel at hearings about their student; and
- Districts making decisions based on their own financial interests as opposed to the statutorily required basis of the best educational interest of each individual student.
With the first day of school less than a week away, families are calling on Governor Mike Parson, the State Legislature and the State Board of Education to step in and protect parents’ rights during the pandemic. Parents are demanding the following:
- Governor Mike Parson must use his waiver authority immediately to forgo the requirement for families to obtain pre-approval from their resident district before enrolling in a MOCAP course or school.
- The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the State Board of Education mustimmediately audit districts for compliance with the existing law and require swift correction to the numerous violations. While the State Board has previously attempted to remedy one aspect of the illegal activity with a proposed new rule, the rule will not be in effect in time to assist any families with enrollment this semester and only addresses one of the many abuses.
- The Missouri State Legislature must rewrite the MOCAP statute to prevent future abuses of fairness or due process.
“The health, safety and educational future of thousands of Missouri students hang in the balance as the Governor and DESE wait to act,” said Colleen Cook, Parent Board President of PSO. “We hope today’s testimony from parents and the presentation of compelling evidence of the blatant attempts by districts to block parent choice will drive lawmakers to address these issues immediately through an emergency waiver and long-term with a legislative fix.”