Local News


Four state online schools at risk of closing

Posted at 1:52 PM, Mar 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-26 17:28:30-04

UPDATE: The discussion over these schools was taken off the agenda at Friday's meeting. No decision has been made.


Thousands of Nevada students are at risk of having their school shut down, as state board members discussed Friday closing four online charter schools.

The State Public Charter School Authority met Friday to vote whether or not to shut down four out of the state's ten virtual schools, including Nevada Connections Academy and Nevada Virtual Academy.  

Dozens of parents and students took to the podium during public comment, begging board members to not shut down the schools.  

"Bullying is a huge issue," says one parent with Nevada Virtual Academy, Tina Zabalza.  "My first son was attacked on his way home from Spring Valley High in 2009, where he suffered severe jaw injuries, his jaw was broken in 2 different places."  The attack was what prompted Zabalza to pull her son from the public school system, and enroll him in online schooling.  

Another parent with Nevada Virtual Academy, Anne Schwartz, says her son takes classes virtually because of development challenges.  Her son has Asperger's Syndrome, a type of autism that affects social interaction and non-verbal communication, but generally doesn't affect intelligence level.  With online classes, Anne's son can control his own environment.  "He will not go back into the brick and mortar school system, that is not an option for him." 

According to a PR team with Nevada Connections Academy, about one-third of students in the four online schools threatening to be shut down are special needs students with IEPs.  

The decision could affect thousands of other valley students, many who choose to take virtual online classes because of health concerns, bullying issues, or developmental challenges.  The online schools served about 10,000 students during the 2013-2014 year, with about 75-80% of those students in southern Nevada.  

The principal with Nevada Connections Academy, Steven Werlein, says he has about 2500 students in southern Nevada, accounting for about 75% of his students. An attorney representing Nevada Virtual Academy, Kara Hendricks, says the school has about 2100 students total, with just over 1700 of them living in southern Nevada.  

If the schools are shut down, those thousands of students may filter back into the Clark County School District.

CCSD has more than 300,000 students, so online students would only account for about 2 percent of the students throughout the valley.  

However, the thousands of additional students could affect the already overcrowded classrooms, and the teacher shortage in the district.