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.
ELIGIBILITY TO ENROLL IN VIRTUAL PROGRAMS
To qualify to enroll in virtual education a student must be currently enrolled in a Missouri public school.
Section 161.670, RSMo:
3. (1) A student who resides in this state may 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, 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 a public school, including any charter school; 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.
(2) Each school district or charter school shall adopt a policy that delineates the process by which a student may enroll in courses provided by the Missouri course access and virtual school program that is substantially similar to the typical process by which a district student would enroll in courses offered by the school district and a charter school student would enroll in courses offered by the charter school. The policy may include consultation with the school's counselor and may include parental notification or authorization. The policy shall ensure that available opportunities for in-person instruction are considered prior to moving a student to virtual courses. The policy shall allow for continuous enrollment throughout the school year. If the school district or charter school disapproves a student's request to enroll in a course or courses provided by the Missouri course access and virtual school program, the reason shall be provided in writing and it shall be for good cause. Good cause justification to disapprove a student's request for enrollment in a course shall be a determination that doing so is not in the best educational interest of the student, and shall be consistent with the determination that would be made for such course request under the process by which a district student would enroll in a similar course offered by the school district and a charter school student would enroll in a similar course offered by the charter school, except that the determination may consider the suitability of virtual courses for the student based on prior participation in virtual courses by the student. Appeals of any course denials under this subsection shall be considered under a policy that is substantially similar to the typical process by which appeals would be considered for a student seeking to enroll in courses offered by the school district and a charter school student seeking to enroll in courses offered by the charter school.
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:
2. (1) For purposes of calculation and distribution of state school aid, students enrolled in the Missouri course access and virtual school program shall be included in the student enrollment of the school district in which the student is enrolled under subsection 3 of this section; provided that any such student attendance for full-time virtual program students shall only be included in any district pupil attendance calculation under chapter 163 and any charter school pupil attendance calculation under section 160.415, using current-year pupil attendance for such full-time virtual program pupils; and further provided that in the case of a host school district enrolling one or more full-time virtual school students, such enrolling district shall receive no less under the state aid calculation for such students than an amount equal to the state adequacy target multiplied by the weighted average daily attendance of such full-time students. Students residing in Missouri and enrolled in a full-time virtual school program operated by a public institution of higher education in this state shall be counted for a state aid calculation by the department, and the department shall pay, from funds dedicated to state school aid payments made under section 163.031, to such institution an amount equal to the state adequacy target multiplied by the weighted average daily attendance of such full-time students.