According to an Associated Press (AP) report on Reflector.com, Wake County Superior Court Judge Abraham Penn Jones ruled on June 29, 2012, that the North Carolina Virtual Academy cannot start enrolling students this fall. The ruling did not involve whether a for-profit company could open an online virtual charter school, but only that it did not get approval from the state board as the law requires. After the State Board of Education decided last year that it would not approve any virtual charter schools for the coming school year, N.C. Learns sought and received approval for its virtual charter school from the Cabarrus County Board of Education.
An administrative law judge (ALJ) had ruled in May 2012 that the virtual charter school could operate because the state board did not respond to its application by the March 15 deadline. However, Judge Jones ruled that the state board was not required to respond to the application. “Though it would have been better to give a written response” to the application, the board “was not legally bound to do so because it had already explicitly stated that virtual charter school applications were not being accepted for school year 2012-2013,” Jones said.
The ruling means that “local school boards can plan for the school year as they had earlier,” said Eddie Speas, attorney for the N.C. School Boards Association, which joined the state Attorney General’s Office in opposing the virtual school. “They can go forward with more certainty.”
If N.C. Learns was allowed to operate a school, the cost would have been about $18.5 million on state and local funds, Jones said in his ruling. School officials had predicted an enrollment of about 1,800. The company had promised to pay 4% of its revenue to the school system in Cabarrus.
Judge Jones also ruled that the ALJ went beyond the scope of his authority in allowing the academy to operate because only the state board has that power.
Source: Reflector.com, 6/29/12, By Martha Waggoner (AP)
[Editor's Note: In June 2012, Legal Clips summarized an AP story on newsobserver.com, which reported that Judge Jones had heard arguments earlier in an appeal by the North Carolina Board of Education of an ALJ’s decision to allow students to begin enrolling in Fall 2012 in a statewide virtual charter school. At issue was whether a for-profit company should get taxpayer money to operate a virtual charter school that offers online-only classes to students as young as kindergarten.]