K-12 Inc. and Georgia Charter School at Odds, and Students in Limbo

Managing Editor

A major for-profit, online charter school provider is immersed in an unusually public and acrimonious battle with a Georgia charter school, a fight that is causing major disruptions for families.

The board of the Georgia Cyber Academy, which serves 11,000 students, had moved last year to take over management of the school from K12 Inc., even as the school continued to rely on other services from the company.

The cyber academy eventually voted to go with another curriculum than the one provided by K12, a move that school officials said greatly reduced costs, from $24 million to just $5.8 million — all details that Education Week’s Alyson Klein breaks down in a new story.

School leaders said the curriculum was not aligned with state standards and was not helping the school meet academic targets. But K12 Inc. officials counter that the school’s decision violated its agreement with the company. The president of K12 Inc.’s managed public school team, Kevin Chavous, said the company’s curriculum has driven recent academic improvements at the school, as has other support the company has offered.

Families and students have been swept up in the fight. The cyber charter says that the company has shut down student computers, told parents to return computers to K12 Inc., and locked the cyber academy’s employees out of their emails.

Georgia Cyber Academy officials have labeled those actions as “purposeful, retaliatory, and wholly indefensible” in a statement. K12 officials say the school was warned of disruptions in advance, and that the school’s break from the company would trigger a “standard course cancellation process.”

K12 Inc. CEO Nate Davis addressed the standoff in a phone call last week, on the day the company announced its earnings.

The company announced that its annual revenues had topped $1 billion annually for the first time, and that revenues grew 10.7 percent year over year. That growth was based on gains with the company’s managed schools program, Davis said.

Davis noted that K12 Inc. has filed a demand for arbitration in the Georgia dispute.

“While we are presently unable to predict the outcome of this arbitration, what we do know is the board of GCA school has already engaged other service providers for the upcoming school year,” said Davis.

Check back on EdWeek Market Brief for updates on K12 Inc.’s dispute with the Georgia Cyber Academy.

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