By John O’Connor
K12, Inc. held a conference call with investors this morning to announce its earnings.
Ron Packard, founder and CEO of the nation’s largest online education firm, started the call with a statement about the Florida Department of Education investigating whether the company used improperly certified teachers in Seminole County schools.
Packard said K12 always uses Florida-certified teachers, but the company’s internal review found “minor mistakes” in matching grade and course certifications to students.
Packard said the story has been wrapped in an “unbelievable amount of rumor-mongering and absurd extrapolations.”
His statement in full:
First, all teachers teaching Seminole County students were Florida-certified. In our internal review we have only identified minor mistakes in matching the appropriate grade and course certifications with specific students in courses.
Second, the emails at issue did not reflect our teacher assignment policies, practices and controls. We believe the allegations resulted from both a mismatch in the timing of assignments with the reporting deadlines. And more fundamentally, a misunderstanding by its author of the process used to generate the report in question in the Seminole materials.Third, we have shared and walked through all the internal supporting documentation for those teacher assignments with the (Inspector General’s) office and cooperated in every way.
Beyond that, the results of our internal investigation concluded there’s not evidence to support the conclusions drawn in the Seminole-submitted materials about teacher certification. It would be inappropriate for me to comment further while the (Inspector General’s) office is still in the process of the investigation.
Given the unbelievable amount of rumor-mongering and absurd extrapolations that some seem to be drawing from this isolated incident, I thought I would take a minute to elucidate our teacher hiring process.
When K12 hires a teacher or recommends to one of our customers or partners the hiring of a teacher, we have a three-step process to ensure appropriate certification.
First, when the position is posted the applicant must check the appropriate certifications and today they have.
Second, for those recommended for potential hire, we retain a third-party vendor that conducts background checks including verifying the current certification status with the relevant state and any other record related to that teacher with the Department of Education.
Third, when a hire is finalized the teacher must submit a current copy of his or her state certifications with the returned and signed offer letter.
As for the ongoing assignments of teachers and students to courses, again, our policy and expectation is full compliance with all state certification and (No Child Left Behind) laws.
To accomplish this we have a combination of staff and systems responsible for the actual course assignments to properly match teachers, courses and state certifications.
At the managed schools this is accomplished at the school level and is also checked by the state as part of the audit process that all of our schools regularly go through and which has not raised any significant teacher certification issues in any state …
While we have been an innovation engine in education and broken down barriers in order to help students, we have always gone to great lengths to comply with all regulations and always will as it part of our culture.