The Florida Department of Education is investigating K12 Inc., the nation’s largest for-profit online virtual education provider, over allegations the company uses uncertified teachers in violation of state law and has asked employees to cover up the practice. K12 Inc. officials allegedly asked state-certified teachers to sign class rosters that included students they hadn’t taught, according to documents that are part of the investigation, which began in January.
In one case, a K12 manager instructed a certified teacher to sign a class roster of more than 100 students, according to documents obtained by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting and StateImpact Florida. But the documents show she only recognized seven names on that list.
“I cannot sign off on students who are not my actual students,” then-K12 teacher Amy Capelle wrote to her supervisor. “It is not ethical to submit records to the district that are inaccurate.”
Co-founded in 2000 by William J. Bennett, a former U.S. Education Secretary under President Ronald Reagan, K12 is an $864 million publicly traded company whose stock price has more than doubled in the last year. It operates in 43 Florida school districts, teaching everything from art to algebra to students in kindergarten through high school.
According to K12’s website, students enjoy “state-certified teachers, with a parent or other responsible adult in the role of ‘Learning Coach.’ ” And in a statement to the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting and StateImpact Florida, K12 Inc. spokesman Jeff Kwitowski denied the allegations. “K12 teachers assigned to teach students in Florida are state-certified,” he said.
A version of this article appeared in the October 17, 2012 edition of Digital Directions as Florida Officials Investigate Operator of Virtual Schools