HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Dozens of parents across Florida are exasperated. They signed their children up for the statewide Florida Virtual School but say months later, their students have yet to start classes.
Brittany Cranmer’s 9-year-old son is among those students waiting to start school.
“I have called. I have emailed and I’ve received no response from Florida Virtual School leaders,” the Lakeland mom said in frustration. “I have my child asking me ‘mom, when do I get to start school?’, 'mom, do I have a teacher?’ when do I get to meet my teacher?”
Cranmer’s frustration is shared by dozens of parents statewide. Several have spent the past few weeks expressing their concerns on Florida Virtual School’s Facebook page.
Many tell ABC Action News that they registered their kids months ago, but have yet to find out when they’ll be given a spot.
“We’re coming to the point where we are going to have to figure something else out because legitimately I don’t want to let my daughter’s education suffer,” said Gibsonton mom Morgan Garcia.
Garcia’s 13 year-old-son started the virtual program as planned on August 24. Her 8-year-old daughter is still waiting.
“She loves school. My husband is trying to work from home and he can’t play babysitter to my daughter and there are only so many books my daughter can read,” Garcia added.
Several parents were told on the first day of school that their students had yet to be assigned but they received an e-mail from FLVS that their children would be assigned within 5-7 days. Now, in the second week of September, many parents say they’re still uncertain when those classes will start.
So, what’s the hold-up?
Florida Virtual School leaders tell ABC Action News they’ve seen a huge spike in registrations. In August, up to 2,000 kids were signing up for the program every week. The statewide program is also still working to hire up to 124 more teachers to meet the demand.
Parents worry their kids will fall behind.
“It’s very frustrating because my son should have been started along with everyone else,” Cranmer added.
Florida Virtual School leaders say they’re working to get students who have already registered into classes by the end of September and FLEX elementary students into classes by the end of October.
Garcia argues that’s a long time to wait.
“I’m not a patient person as it is. I know with everything going on in the world there has to be patience, but it’s my child’s education,” she elaborated.
Florida Virtual School says teachers will work with students to get them caught up, but some parents are now considering a new option: homeschooling.
Here’s the full statement Florida Virtual School provided to ABC Action News:
"Florida Virtual School offers part-time (FLVS Flex) and full-time (FLVS Full Time) online schooling with certified teachers for Kindergarten-12 students. FLVS Admissions and Registrations team experienced a much higher than usual student application volume at the start of the school year and is continuing to see daily high enrollment numbers.
If a student receives a delayed start date, our teachers will extend themselves and work closely with each student to ensure he/she stays on pace with the class. Our online courses are designed to be flexible, self-paced, and adjustable to various schedules. Even though a child may have a delayed start date, he/she will have the opportunity to successfully complete their courses.
Registration for FLVS Full Time opened in March and closed on July 31. Classes for FLVS Full Time began on Aug. 19. Students are starting daily as their registration receives final school counselor review and parent confirmation registration verification.
Because FLVS Flex is open 365 days per year, students can work throughout the year and on any day of the week in their courses. Due to the higher new student application volume in FLVS Flex Elementary, we did temporarily close enrollment from Sept. 1 through late October. We are working quickly to process student applications that came in prior to Sept. 1. We only closed enrollment for FLVS Flex Elementary. Enrollment for FLVS Flex Grades 6-12 is still open.
We are striving to get FLVS Full Time students who have already registered to start with classes by the end of September and FLVS Flex Elementary students who have already registered to start classes by the end of October. We are in communication with parents to provide updates on their enrollment status.
To support the influx of new students, since July 1, FLVS has hired 305 teachers to support both FLVS Full Time and FLVS Flex. We are currently hiring for 124 open teacher positions. FLVS has a comprehensive hiring and onboarding process, inclusive of an extensive background check, to ensure we hire qualified and certified teachers to provide our students with a personalized one-on-one education.
We will continue to extend online education solutions to help Florida families meet their educational needs."