Some Students Denied Transfer to New ‘Virtual School’

The superintendent of Union County schools, who oversees a new “virtual school” operation operated by a private company under a new state law, tells Andy Sher that some other school systems are not approving transfers of their students to the virtual school. In issue are students who missed a deadline.
As previously reported, more than 1,000 students seeking to enroll in the virtual school have been unable to do so for one reason or another. Denial of transfer is one reason.
Under state law, (Superintendent Wayne) Goforth said, students seeking to transfer after the open enrollment date “have to seek the approval of the sending district, and that has caused us a lot of ups and downs.”
“A lot of times the directors don’t want to give permission for them to leave,” Goforth said. “And that’s their choice. I guess they don’t want to lose their [state] funding because in Tennessee, the funding follows the child.”
He estimated the county receives about $5,300 in state funds for every child who attends the Tennessee Virtual Academy. Goforth said he hears from parents that “one of the main” systems denying approval of late transfers is the Hamilton County schools system.
Hamilton County Schools Director Rick Smith said he has denied approving the transfers of 14 students, who were enrolled in the local school system last year, because their applications were late.
He said he only got an email from Goforth on Aug. 6 — days after the July 24 transfer deadline — listing 26 students seeking a late transfer.
Twelve had not been public school students at all, Smith said, and presumably had attended private schools or were being home-schooled. He said he had no authority regarding them.
Smith said after talking to parents of students and parents of those outside the public school system, he learned that families learned about the Tennessee Virtual Academy at various times following an advertising and promotion push by K12.
Smith said the district abides by deadlines for Hamilton County parents wishing to get their children into the system’s highly desirable magnet schools. It should be no different in approving late transfers.
He noted he has no idea how many local students might have applied and enrolled in the Tennessee Virtual Academy prior to the July 24 deadline. The system has no power over their transfer, he said.

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