Virtual Courses (MSBA Policy IGCD)
Because virtual instruction can be an effective education option for some students, the district may offer virtual courses to students through district staff or by contracting for those services as part of the district-sponsored curriculum. In addition, eligible students may enroll in virtual courses offered through the Missouri Course Access Program (MOCAP). The district will accept all grades and credits earned through district-sponsored virtual instruction and MOCAP.
The district will pay the costs of a virtual course only if the district has first approved the student's enrollment in the course as described in this policy. Even if a student or his or her parents/guardians pay the costs for a virtual course, the student or parents/guardians should meet with the principal or designee prior to enrollment to ensure that the course is consistent with the student's academic and personal goals.
The district is not required to provide students access to or pay for courses beyond the equivalent of full-time enrollment. The district will provide supervision for students who take virtual courses in district facilities but will not provide supervision for students taking virtual courses offsite.
Students taking courses virtually are subject to district policies, procedures and rules applicable to students enrolled in traditional courses including, but not limited to, the district's discipline code and prohibitions on academic dishonesty, discrimination, harassment, bullying and cyberbullying.
Enrollment in Virtual Courses - The superintendent or designee will establish open enrollment periods and registration deadlines for students to enroll in virtual courses offered by the district or through MOCAP. These enrollment periods and registration deadlines will be enforced unless the superintendent or designee determines that an exception is warranted.
A student or parent/guardian must notify the student's principal or designee before the student may enroll in a district-sponsored virtual course or a MOCAP virtual course through the district. The student will be enrolled unless the principal or designee, in consultation with the student's parents/guardians and relevant staff, such as the school counselor or district special education director, determines that there is good cause to refuse the student enrollment in the course. For enrollment in a MOCAP course, good cause is limited to situations where it is not in the best educational interest of the student to enroll in the course.
Students or parents/guardians who disagree with the principal's or designee's determination about a MOCAP course can appeal the decision to the Board of Education and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) as detailed later in this policy. For all other virtual courses, students or parents/guardians may appeal the decision to the superintendent or designee, and the superintendent's or designee's decision will be final.
Students with Disabilities - In general, students with disabilities may enroll in district-sponsored virtual courses or MOCAP virtual courses using the same approval process applicable to other students. However, in accordance with federal law, if a student receives special education services, the student's individualized education program (IEP) team may determine that a virtual course is not appropriate for the student even if the course has otherwise been approved. Any appeal of that decision must be made through the special education process rather than to the superintendent or designee or the Board.
If a student who is receiving accommodations for a disability under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504) is enrolled in a virtual course, the student's Section 504 team will determine whether any additional accommodations are necessary for the student.
Attendance and Completion - Students who enroll in district-sponsored virtual courses or MOCAP courses through the district are expected to actively participate in those courses with the goal of completing the course. If a student does not actively participate in a course or is not successful in the course, the district may remove the student from the virtual course and refuse to enroll the student in virtual courses in the future.
Students enrolled in virtual courses are expected to complete all course requirements in the time allotted for the course.
Students enrolled in a district-sponsored or MOCAP course through the district will be considered in attendance for state aid purposes in accordance with law. A completed virtual course shall be counted as no less than 95 percent attendance for purposes of A+ eligibility.
End-of-Course (EOC) Examinations - Students are required to take state-required EOC examinations administered by the district regardless of whether the course for which the examination is required was taken virtually or in the traditional classroom.
Notice - The district will inform students and parents/guardians in handbooks, registration documents and on the homepage of the district's website of the option to enroll in virtual courses, including courses offered through MOCAP, as required by law.
MOCAP - In accordance with state law, the district will pay the cost of student enrollment in MOCAP virtual courses as long as:
1. The student meets eligibility requirements;
2. The student has approval for enrollment in accordance with this policy; and
3. Taking the course does not cause the student to exceed full-time enrollment in the district.
In addition to the requirements listed above and in accordance with law, a student is eligible to enroll in a MOCAP course through the district if:
1. The student resides in and is enrolled in the district on a full-time basis;
2. The student has attended a public school or charter school for at least one semester immediately prior to enrolling in a MOCAP course;* and
3. The enrollment is approved by the principal or designee.
*A student will be excused from this requirement if he or she has a documented medical or psychological diagnosis or condition that prevented the student from attending a school in the district during the previous semester.
The district is not obligated to provide students computers, equipment or Internet access to take a MOCAP course unless otherwise required by law to accommodate a student with a disability.
District counselors or certificated staff will develop an individual career and academic plan (ICAP) for district students enrolled in three or more virtual courses. If a student already has an ICAP, the plan will be reviewed and modified as necessary. In accordance with law, school counselors cannot be required to make the final decision regarding a student's enrollment in a MOCAP course.
If the principal or designee determines that it is not in a student's best educational interest to take a virtual course, the student and the parents/guardians will be notified in writing, provided an explanation for the decision and informed that the student or parents/guardians may appeal the decision to the Board. However, if the student is receiving special education services, the student's IEP team will make the final decision regarding student enrollment in a virtual course in accordance with federal law, and the decision must be appealed through the special education process rather than through the Board.
If the student or parent/guardian appeals to the Board, the principal or designee will provide the Board written reasons for denying the student's enrollment, and the student or parent/guardian will provide written reasons the student should be allowed to take the course. Both documents will be retained by the Board and will be incorporated into the minutes. In addition, the student, parents/guardians and the principal or designee will be allowed to present their arguments at a Board meeting.
The appeal to the Board shall be held in closed session. The Board will consider the information presented and release a written decision within 30 calendar days of the meeting. The student or parents/guardians may appeal the decision to DESE. The appeal to DESE must be filed within seven days of the Board's final decision.
The district will pay a MOCAP course provider a monthly pro rata amount based on a student's completion of assignments and assessments, subject to the cost limitations in state law. The district will stop making monthly payments if a student discontinues enrollment. The superintendent or designee is authorized to negotiate lower course rates with MOCAP course providers when possible.
Monitoring and Reporting
The district will monitor the progress and success of students enrolled in MOCAP courses. The district may remove a student from a course if it does not meet the educational needs of the student. The district may terminate access to a course or refuse to allow students to enroll in a MOCAP course if the district determines that the course is not meeting the educational needs of the students enrolled in the course.
All concerns regarding the quality or delivery of a MOCAP course will be reported to DESE. The district may consider concerns regarding the quality of a course when making approval decisions for other students. In addition, the district will consider recommendations made by DESE regarding continued or future enrollment in MOCAP courses.
The district will accept transfer credits students earn by successfully passing approved MOCAP courses if the course provider gives the district an official record of the completed course and the grade earned. Students who transfer to the district while enrolled in MOCAP courses will be allowed to continue enrollment in those courses even if the course provider is not one used by the district.
A student or the student's parent/guardian must notify the student's principal or designee before the student may enroll in a district-sponsored virtual course or a Missouri Course Access Program (MOCAP) virtual course through the district.
The principal or designee will educate the student and the student's parents/guardians about how virtual instruction is provided and the key differences between virtual and in-person instruction. The principal or designee will discuss the virtual course options available to the student, determine which course or courses interest the student and how the course or courses will assist the student in meeting his or her academic and personal goals. The principal or designee will also inform the student and the student's parents/guardians of whether the course is available in a traditional setting, whether the student must complete any prerequisites prior to taking a particular course and whether the prerequisite courses are offered by the district virtually or traditionally.
The principal or designee, in consultation with the student's parents/guardians and other relevant staff, such as the school counselor or the district's special education director, will determine whether there is good cause to refuse the student enrollment in the course. Students or parents/guardians who disagree with the principal's or designee's determination about a MOCAP course can appeal the decision to the Board of Education and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). For all other virtual courses, students or parents/guardians may appeal the decision to the superintendent or designee, and the superintendent's or designee's decision will be final. In accordance with federal law, if a student receives special education services, the student's individualized education program (IEP) team may determine that a virtual course is not appropriate for the student even if the course has otherwise been approved by the district.
If district staff determine that it is not in the best educational interest of a student to take a virtual course, that decision will be documented in writing and provided to the student and the parents/guardians.
Best Educational Interest Considerations
District staff should minimally consider the following when deciding whether a virtual course is in the best educational interest of a student but may consider other factors not listed.
District Course Availability
1. If the course is offered onsite by the district, are there extenuating circumstances that make it difficult or impossible for the student to take the onsite course offered by the district?
2. If the course is offered onsite by the district and the student is able to take that course, what are the reasons the student wants to take the virtual course?
Virtual Course Characteristics
1. Does the course meet or exceed district curriculum standards and graduation requirements?
2. Does the course align with the student's career goals and the student's individual career and academic plan (ICAP)?
3. If the course is for remediation, will it personalize instruction to the student's specific needs?
4. Is the district aware of any complaints or concerns regarding the quality of the course, and have those complaints or concerns been resolved?
5. Has the district had difficulty working with the course instructor or provider to ensure a student with disabilities receives the required accommodations or modifications?
Student Skills Necessary for Success in Virtual Courses
1. Has the student demonstrated time-management skills that indicate that the student is capable of submitting assignments and completing course requirements without reminders?
2. Has the student demonstrated persistence in overcoming obstacles and a willingness to seek assistance when needed?
3. Has the student demonstrated verbal or written communication skills that would allow the student to succeed in an environment where the instructor may not have sufficient nonverbal cues to indicate the student's level of understanding?
4. Does the student have the necessary computer or technical skills to succeed in a virtual course?
Other Relevant Factors
1. Does the student have adequate access to computers, Internet and other necessary technology resources to participate in a virtual course and complete assignments?
2. If the student has previously attempted a virtual course and struggled with or failed the class, have the issues that caused the student to struggle or fail been identified and addressed?