A series of recent articles in the Atlanta Journal Constitution have exposed significant educational deficiences at the Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA), particularly for students with special needs. Among some of the glaring problems at GCA are its failure to make AYP in 2010-2011 school year for poor academic performance; high failure rate of students on End of Course Tests, high rate of failure on third grade reading CRCT and eighth grade math; and high rate of failure of students with special needs on math, language arts, and social studies sections of CRCT. In addition, the State Board of Education has highly criticized GCA for failing to meet the educational needs of students with disabilities. In a strongly worded letter to GCA in November 2012, the Georgia Board of Education has threatened to terminate the charter status of GCA by March 2013 unless it passes a planned state monitoring visit in February 2013. The tone of the Georgia Board of Education, however, changed somewhat in December 2012 when it noted GCA had made progress with meeting the educational needs of students with disabilities. It appears – at least for now – that GCA’s doors will remain open through the 2012-2013 school year.
All of this bruhaha has created quite a stir in the special education advocacy community. What damage has GCA already done to students with disabilities? What remedies do parents have against GCA for failing to meet the educational needs of students with disabilities? And will GCA be able to comply with the Georgia Board of Education’s requirements that it must meet to remain open for the 2013-2014 school year? It is perhaps too early to say what will happen to GCA for the 2013-2014 school year. But we can reflect upon the mounting criticism and failures of the GCA to comply with federal and state special education laws that protect the right of families of children with disabilities.
So if you are one of those parents who have a child with a disability attending GCA or you have withdrawn your child from GCA because of its past failures to provide a free appropriate public education for your child, what will you do?