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Leadership, spending issues addressed at Florida Virtual School, says Knox County Schools

A November 2019 report from the Florida Department of Education shows multiple issues were uncovered during an audit of Florida Virtual Schools, the company contracted by the Knox County Board of Education to assist with at-home teaching.
Many students are involved in virtual learning for the first time this year.
Many students are involved in virtual learning for the first time this year.(WSFA)
Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 4:42 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 13, 2020 at 7:42 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A November 2019 report from the Florida Department of Education shows multiple issues were uncovered during an audit of Florida Virtual Schools, the company contracted by the Knox County Board of Education to assist with at-home teaching amid the pandemic.

According to the report, Florida Virtual Schools has been plagued by problems, including “a data breach in 2018; unstable leadership; questionable hiring practices; perceptions of ‘self-dealing’ behaviors; inappropriate work climate; improper purchasing and contracting; employees conducting work on FLVS’ time unrelated to FLVS; and billing FLVS for travel unrelated to FLVS.”

Members of the leadership team were being paid salaries that were inflated and did not align with the work being done, the report found.

A new leadership team was hired and was able to save or repurpose more than $27 million in funding over four months, the report shows.

After the 2018 data breach, the report shows that steps were recommended to improve cybersecurity, including the establishment of a “formal information technology risk management program and institute a formalized process for security,” a new Chief Information Security Officer, and other measures.

The report determined that the organization could be improved after the recommendations outlined were implemented.

“FLVS is well on its way to reasserting its reputation and focus on great outcomes for students and Florida’s families. FLVS now also has the opportunity to position itself as a great return on investment for the entire Florida education family.”

Read the full report from the Florida Board of Education here.

“We have enjoyed being under the State Board of Education for the past year. We’ve learned a lot and they’ve given us a high-quality chief executive team, and we’ve been able to sort of move and grow from there,” said Courtney Calfee, Partner Services (Global) Senior Director with FLVS. “We’ve increased the amount of technology and the amount of safety and security that we’ve done as a result of the audit. We’ve done a great job responding to every point in the audit and making sure that we do that we do what we do best and that is to put the center of attention on students.”

Knox County Schools said they are aware of the November 2019 report and past complaints. A school representative tells WVLT News a FLVS representative told the school system problems were corrected, adding the Tennessee Department of Education and Tennessee Board of Education approved the FLVS curriculum for other school districts in Tennessee.

KCS adds only 1.4 percent of virtual learning courses would be covered by FLVS, and that percentage continues to decrease as more KCS teachers cover more courses.

Copyright 2020 WVLT. All rights reserved.

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