KNOW YOUR RIGHTS TO VIRTUAL EDUCATION

Many school districts are still trying to figure out how to provide virtual education to their students as required by state law. As a result school staff may be confused about what your rights to virtual education are and exactly what the law says school districts are required to do. We have broken out the key sections of the law that pertain to parents' and students' rights to make it easier for you to talk to your school.

 

UNDER STATE LAW, MISSOURI STUDENTS HAVE THE RIGHT TO ENROLL IN VIRTUAL EDUCATION FREE OF CHARGE.

The full statute for virtual education can be found here, but relevant sections are listed in yellow below.

TIMELY DECISION

Districts should provide a timely decision on applications to enroll in virtual education. If you have not heard a response from your district within two weeks you should reach out and check on the process of the decision.

5 CSR 20-100.230 Virtual Instruction Program:
(7) MOCAP Enrollment Decisions. If a student requests enrollment in a MOCAP course or full-time virtual school, the LEA must either approve or deny the request within thirty (30) days. A failure to render and communicate the decision within thirty (30) days will be deemed to be an enrollment approval.

CHOOSING A PROVIDER

You, NOT the district, have the right to choose which virtual education provider is best for your student.

Many districts will try to make you enroll with a provider they already have a contract with, but these decisions are frequently based on cost and NOT the educational best interests of your child.

Section 161.670, RSMo: 

 3.  (1)  A school district or charter school shall allow any eligible student who resides in such district to enroll in Missouri course access and virtual school program courses of his or her choice as a part of the student's annual course load each school year or a full-time virtual school option, with any costs associated with such course or courses to be paid by the school district or charter school

 

ELIGIBILITY TO ENROLL IN VIRTUAL PROGRAMS

To qualify to enroll in virtual education a student must have been attended a Missouri public school full-time for at least the prior semester. Exceptions are made for students with documented medical or psychological diagnoses or conditions that prevented the student from attending a school in the community during the previous semester.

Section 161.670, RSMo: 

 3.  (1)  A school district or charter school shall allow any eligible student who resides in such district to enroll in Missouri course access and virtual school program courses of his or her choice as a part of the student's annual course load each school year or a full-time virtual school option, with any costs associated with such course or courses to be paid by the school district or charter school if:

  (a)  The student is enrolled full-time in and has attended, for at least one semester immediately prior to enrolling in the Missouri course access and virtual school program, a public school, including any charter school; except that, no student seeking to enroll in Missouri course access and virtual school program courses under this subdivision shall be required to have attended a public school during the previous semester if the student has a documented medical or psychological diagnosis or condition that prevented the student from attending a school in the community during the previous semester; and

  (b)  Prior to enrolling in any Missouri course access and virtual school program course, a student has received approval from his or her school district or charter school through the procedure described under subdivision (2) of this subsection.

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYING FOR THE TUITION FOR VIRTUAL PROGRAMS?

Your child's public school is responsible for paying for virtual education courses up to a full-time program. The school CANNOT base decisions on enrollment on the potential cost to the district. Districts are NOT required to pay for virtual courses over what would be considered a full schedule for your child, nor are they required to pay for courses not approved by MOCAP.

Section 161.670, RSMo: 

 3.  (3)  For students enrolled in any Missouri course access and virtual school program course in which costs associated with such course are to be paid by the school district or charter school as described under subdivision (1) of this subsection, the school district or charter school shall pay the content provider directly on a pro rata monthly basis based on a student's completion of assignments and assessments.  If a student discontinues enrollment, the district or charter school may stop making monthly payments to the content provider.  No school district or charter school shall pay, for any one course for a student, more than the market necessary costs but in no case shall pay more than fourteen percent of the state adequacy target, as defined under section 163.011, as calculated at the end of the most recent school year for any single, year-long course and no more than seven percent of the state adequacy target as described above for any single semester equivalent course.  Payment for a full-time virtual school student shall not exceed the state adequacy target, unless the student receives additional federal or state aid.  Nothing in this subdivision shall prohibit a school district or charter school from negotiating lower costs directly with course or full-time virtual school providers, particularly in cases where several students enroll in a single course or full-time virtual school.