Hundreds of families across Missouri still don’t know where or how their child will be attending school in a few short weeks.
This isn’t due to lack of planning on the part of parents. There’s something else, and possibly more nefarious at play here as some school districts are abusing their power in order to deny parents from enrolling their child in the school of their choice this fall.
We’ve talked with dozens of parents from across the state about the lengths their school districts are going to in order to block their child’s enrollment in an online school as provided under the Missouri Course Access and Virtual School Program (MOCAP).
Here are some of the stories parents have shared with us.
Denial in De Soto
The story: A De Soto mother applied to send her autistic son to the Missouri Virtual Academy (MOVA). Her school district refused to sign the enrollment form because they offer their own online program. When the mother questioned this denial, the school district informed her there was no way around their denial, so she shouldn’t even try.
What’s happening: MOCAP does allow for districts to deny applications if it’s in the best interest of the child. In this case, like many others, families are being denied the option to enroll their child in an established program in favor of a district-run program that has no track record. It sounds more like a denial based on the district’s desire to protect their pockets and less about what’s necessarily best for the student.
We’ve heard from parents in Wentzville and Hayti who are facing similar issues.
Floating in Ferguson
The story: A mother applied to enroll her fourth grade student in a full-time online school. In order to proceed with the enrollment, the school district must approve the application. Unfortunately, the school district has gone radio silent and is refusing to respond to the parent’s outreach, which has included phone calls and two official letters. The district is also refusing to respond to outreach attempts being made by the online school’s enrollment coordinator.
What’s happening: Ghosting families is not a good strategy. School is starting in a few weeks, and these families haven’t the slightest idea where their child will be attending. It’s clear these districts are hoping these families will just go away and/or accept the status quo.
This seems to be a favorite tactic of school districts, as we’ve heard about similar instances in Dunklin, Nevada and Riverview Gardens.
Are you a Missouri parent whose child’s application for a virtual school has been wrongfully denied or is stuck in administrative purgatory? We’re here to help.
The Missouri chapter of PSO and our partners in Missouri, including the Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri (CEAM), are working with families to gain access to the school of their choice. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story.