Bartow Virtual Academy meets state standards
by Mark Andrews
Nov 25, 2012 | 3975 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bartow County Learning Center Director Larry Parker oversees the operation of the Bartow County Virtual Academy, which because of special education inclusion is not under the same scrutiny as the Georgia Cyber Academy. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News, File
Bartow County Learning Center Director Larry Parker oversees the operation of the Bartow County Virtual Academy, which because of special education inclusion is not under the same scrutiny as the Georgia Cyber Academy. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News, File
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While State Department of Education officials have said they will begin shutting down the Georgia Cyber Academy in April if it fails to address concerns over how to handle special education curriculum, the Bartow County Virtual Academy is safe, says Bartow County Learning Center Director Larry Parker.

“We have a special ed teacher on duty with our kids every single day and the [GCA] obviously doesn’t because most [students] are doing it at home,” Parker said. “We have to have a certified special ed working every single day to work with our special needs kids.”

Opening in spring 2012, the academy, located at the learning center, has 32 seats available but has seen well over 150 applicants for each semester.

“Everything [at the BCVA] is geared toward making sure [students’ needs] are taken care of,” Parker said.

The BCVA also has a full-time math teacher and paraprofessional.

“When I was looking at [virtual academies] in different states, in particular North Carolina, they actually have a special ed teacher, an English teacher and a math teacher, and I would like to add an English teacher to facilitate the English classes,” Parker said, adding, “the special education and math teacher do an excellent job at facilitating the classes.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Wednesday that state officials say the GCA has failed to develop federally mandated individualized education plans for special education students.

Matt Arkin, head of the online school, told the newspaper that cyber academy officials are reviewing and investigating a Department of Education report spelling out the school’s shortcomings.

Cyber academy representatives are set to meet with state education officials this week.

The GCA is the state’s largest public school with 12,000 students ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade.

About 1,100 special education students are enrolled in the school.

— The Associated Press contributed to this article.