01.11.12 Schools Chief Pledges to Hold Statewide Summit on Virtual Education
Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi she would hold a statewide e a summit to address issues concerning digital learning in April.
Barresi described the virtual learning world as the "wild, wild west," because of a lack of regulations. The summit would be open for people to express their opinion on digital learning.
Barresi is supportive of blended learning and changing state education rules to accommodate online learning.
"We currently measure progress based on seat time," she said. "What a student needs is competency."
11.18.11 Rules for Online Classes Changed--Again--By State School Board
After getting strong opposition from school superintendents and Oklahoma legislators, the Oklahoma Education Board rescinded emergency requiring school districts to provide online courses. The board approved those rules only a month ago.
The quick turnaround involves rules were approved to bring school districts into compliance with a law that took effect in 2010. The law requires school districts to offer supplemental online courses, when requested by students or parents, for subjects that aren't offered in the schools.
“We approved those and now two and a half weeks later we decide that the rules are no good?” asked board member Lee Baxter. “Nobody understood that this was going to happen? I think it's a little embarrassing, actually.”
The board voted unanimously to rescind the emergency rules and instead wait for the formal rule-making process that begins with the legislative session in February. That process will include public input and multiple votes from the board.
There were several parts of the emergency rules that were contested, but the most drastic required school districts to have an academic liaison to monitor student progress in online courses.
“It placed an administrative burden on the schools, an unfunded mandate if you will,” said Rep. Gary Stanislawski, who authored Senate Bill 2319 that created the supplemental online education law.
07.29.11 Problems Hinder Enrollment in First Virtual Charter School
Antiquated transfer laws were being enforced in a way that made it difficult for many Oklahoma parents from transferring their children out of traditional public schools and into virtual classes.
On July 28, The Oklahoma Board of Education revoked those regulations and instead instructed school districts to follow state law. Those regulations say that Open transfers cannot be denied for any reason if the receiving district accepts the student.
Another problem cropped up when the state ed board warned the state's first virtual charter, Epic One on One Charter School, to stop enrolling pre-kindergarten students in Oklahoma City and Norman and to halt enrolling pre-K through 5 students in Tulsa.
The reason: state law requires that a charter school be physically located in the district that grants the charter. Epic One is chartered through Graham Public Schools, near Ardmore.
In reviewing the solicitation posted on the Epic One on One website, the state board of ed told Epic One, "it is evident that the intention is to provide a physical location for students within a school for a full school day. Pursuant to the law, you must close the remote sites immediately."
David Chaney, Epic's founder, told The Oklahoman that the facilities are not schools - but are centers where students can access the curriculum on computers and Internet provided by Epic.
However, descriptions of the three sites on Epic One's web page have been changed. There is also with a statement explaining the situation.
Chaney said about 1,200 students have enrolled in the virtual school so far, and about 100 of them have indicated they would prefer a physical location to attend.
"While we work to resolve this issue, we want to make everyone aware that this applies only to the students that were planning to physically attend our resource centers, which includes approximately 100 enrollments," Chaney wrote. "These developments do not affect our charter and will not prohibit Epic from starting in the fall.
Epic One has battled to launch as a virtual charter school. Plans for the virtual charter school devolved into a fight in 2010 when Epic One found itself without a sponsor and with no access to state funding. A court ruling that the virtual charter should receive state money came too late for the school to open in the fall of 2010. In early 2011, the Okfuskee County School District said it would sponsor the virtual charter school. Calvert Education services said it would provide curriculum and supervision for the charter. With that, Epic One started working to open for statewide enrollment in the fall of 2011.
02.11.11 Epic One Announces Calvert Education Services as Curriculum Partner
Epic One on One Charter School and Calvert Education Services, said they will be partners in a new online elementary and middle charter school for students throughout the state of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Calvert Academy.
Classes in this new Oklahoma virtual charter school will begin in the fall of 2011.
01.15.11 Rural District to Sponsor Online Charter School
Oklahoma's first online charter school open to students throughout the state will be sponsored by a rural Okfuskee County school district, officials said.
David Chaney, co-founder of Epic One on One Charter School, and Graham Public School Superintendent Dusty Chancey said the two entities have reached a two-year deal for the district to sponsor the charter school, which plans to open for the 2011-12 school year. The announcement came a few days after Epic officials said the school was cutting ties with the University of Central Oklahoma.
Chancey said he delivered a copy of the application and supporting documentation to new state Superintendent Janet Barresi's office. The state Department of Education must approve the application, which Chaney said should not be a problem.
A recent change to Oklahoma's charter school law allows school districts with a site on the state's school improvement list to serve as a charter school sponsor. Graham is in its first year on that list and took advantage of the new law to become the state's first rural school district to sponsor a charter school, Chancey said.
The district near Weleetka has about 120 students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade who attend its traditional bricks-and-mortar school and about 150 students who attend online classes sponsored by the school. Graham has had an online program for four years.
01.13.11 Epic One, University Severe Ties
The state’s first online charter school is cutting ties with the University of Central Oklahoma, but it was unclear how much UCO will have to pay under the settlement.
Bill Hickman, an attorney for Epic One on One Charter School, told the Oklahoman the two parties have agreed to terminate their relationship and the university agreed to provide monetary compensation. University spokesman Charlie Johnson confirmed a settlement had been reached but declined to specify an amount.
Both declined to provide details of the split, but Johnson said the university never considered its contract with Epic as a valid agreement. A judge ruled otherwise in August, saying the university had accepted sponsorship of the charter school, and Hickman said discussions about cutting ties began shortly thereafter.
Under state law, a charter school must be sponsored by a school district with 5,000 or more students in a county with a population of at least 500,000, a university in such a county, a federally recognized American Indian tribe or a school district or career technology center district, if those districts have a site on the state’s school improvement list. Only Oklahoma and Tulsa counties have at least 500,000 residents.
Epic’s contract with the university was signed June 28 by UCO Executive Vice President Steve Kreidler, but it wasn’t approved by regents with the Regional University System of Oklahoma, which oversees UCO. The state Education Department said regents’ approval was necessary.
Hickman told the Oklahoman at the time that Kreidler had the authority to sign the contract and the Education Department could not require regents’ approval as long as Epic had a valid charter.
Oklahoma County District Judge Patricia Parrish agreed during a hearing in August, saying UCO had “accepted sponsorship of the school.” The ruling came in a lawsuit Epic filed against the Education Department and Oklahoma City Public Schools to get a district code, which would allow the charter school to receive public funding. Epic was awarded a code.
08.17.10 Judge Creates School District for Embattled Online Charter School
A virtual school district. That's what an Oklahoma judge may have created when she ruled that state's Department of Education should fund a K-12 virtual charter school that can enroll students from throughout the state.
The ruling, however, may have come too late for Epic 1 on 1 Charter School to open its doors this fall as planned.
The judge's ruling left Oklahoma School Superintendent Sandy Garrett "perplexed" at why the judge took this route."We don't have a school district that has no representation through their community through a democratic election."
Oklahoma has other virtual schools, but they are offered through existing school districts.
The ruling momentarily ended a bruising fight that pitted Epic against the state's education department and the University of Central Oklahoma, which Epic founders say is its sponsoring agency. The university says it does not have an approved contract with Epic.
Oklahoma does not have a state-led virtual school.
Oklahoma does have two online programs that serve the entire state. They are the Oklahoma Virtual High School (OVHS) and Oklahoma Virtual Academy. Enrollment in these virtual programs was limited to the state's two largest metro areas, Oklamhoma City and Tusla. This changed on June 5, 2010 with approval of a state law that allows any Oklamhoma students to enroll in a virtual education program.
Oklahoma will fund students in the virtual schools at the same level as the state funds students attending a brick-and-mortar school.
According to the state Legislature’s Internet-Based Instruction Task Force, more than "1,100 students were enrolled in a full-time online program during the 2008-2009 school year. This increased to over 2,500 for the 2009-2010 school year.”Plans for a virtual charter school in Oklahoma devolved into a fight in 2010 when Epic One found itself without a sponsor and with no access to state funding. A court ruling that the virtual charter should receive state money came too late for the school to open in the fall of 2010. In early 2011, the Okfuskee County School District said it would sponsor the virtual charter school. Calvert Education services said it would provide curriculum and supervision for the charter. Epic One opened for statewide enrollment in the fall of 2011.