Nevada panel weighs closure of several virtual schools, criticizes student performance

Packed room as Nevada Public Charter School Authority meets to possibly close Nevada Virtual Academy. 3/25/2016 (Nathan O'Neal/KSNV)

Online schools are under scrutiny by the Nevada Public Charter School Authority for persistently low graduation rates. A tie vote forced the issue off the agenda and effectively put it back on the shelf for a later undetermined date.

Dozens of passionate parents voiced their grievances at the possibility that several online virtual K-12 schools could be shut down. The schools at the heart of the issue include The Nevada Virtual Academy, Nevada Connections Academy and Beacon Academy.

It's a move that could have put more than 6,000 students' academic futures in jeopardy.

One of the parents to speak up was Kelly Gaez, whose son Josh is a 5th grader in a virtual school. Gaez said it was a preferable option for her son because of the challenges he faces with Aspergers Syndrome.

"I just don't know what I'm going to do if that choice is taken away -- what's a good fit for him? Is he going to have to be put in a special education classroom at middle school? That's not going to be stimulating enough for him," Gaez said.

The state argued the schools were consistently under-performing while school leadership insisted it should have been given more time to improve student progress and to properly respond to the poor performance accusations.

The seven-hour hearing ended with a tie vote which forced the board to remove the issue from the agenda but acknowledged that it could be brought up at a later date. The move effectively gives the schools additional time to work with the state on improving student performance.

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