Take some time this afternoon to read a fascinating, in-depth report from The Mercury News in San Jose, Calif., on the tightrope virtual charter school operator K-12 Inc. walks in order to operate for-profit institutions under non-profit tax exemptions in California.
It’s important to note because Virginia-based K-12 is the operator of its own online school in this state. It’s one of two for-profit operators behind a fledgling pilot program in North Carolina which has been troubled by soaring dropout rates in its early months.
Virtual charters have also been skewered nationwide by severely lagging academic performance in states like California. A report last year by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) found that students in virtual charters fell as much as an entire academic year behind their traditional school peers.
Now, The Mercury News reports that the virtual charter operator has been exploiting charter and charity laws for profits.
From The Mercury News:
Although the schools are set up like typical charters, records show they’re established and run by Virginia-based K12 Inc., whose claims of parental involvement and independent oversight appear to be a veneer for the moneymaking enterprise.The company — the subject of a two-part investigative series by this newspaper — says the schools operate independently and are locally controlled. But the academies’ contracts, tax records and other financial information suggest something entirely different: K12 calls the shots, operating the schools to make money by taking advantage of laws governing charter schools and nonprofit organizations.“What this company has done may make sense from a business perspective, but to me, it’s a sham,” said Renee Nash, a business and tax attorney and a member of the Eureka Union School District’s Board of Trustees.
“K12 is clearly taking advantage of the laws in California,” she said, “and the Legislature needs to put a stop to it.”