New MOVA Ruling Changes How Districts Should Respond to Student Requests to Enroll in MOVA Courses or Programs

The Cole County Circuit Court entered an Order on August 5, 2019, made public on August 6, 2019, that requires the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to list the Missouri Virtual Academy (MOVA) as an approved Missouri Course Access and Virtual School Program (MOCAP) provider by 4:30pm on August 6, 2019. Contrary to information you may have received, that Order did not contain any findings with regard to Fulton Public School District. As a result of the Order, MOVA must now be considered by DESE to be a virtual education provider within MOCAP.

This means that if a student in your district meets eligibility requirements and taking a MOVA course or program is in that student’s “best educational interest,” the district is required to approve a student’s request to enroll in MOVA courses. The statutory MOCAP provisions related to appeals, caps on course fees, and payment provisions, among other things, now apply to MOVA courses.

If your District receives a request from a student to enroll in MOVA courses, or if you’ve previously received a request from a student to enroll in MOVA courses, we recommend following your District’s MOCAP policy in responding to that request.

Specifically, the district needs to ensure a student meets eligibility requirements in that (1) the student is enrolled full time in the district and (2) has, for at least one semester prior to requesting to enroll, attended public school or was prevented from attending by reason of a medical condition or disability. Once a student meets eligibility requirements, the District needs to then consider whether the course or program is in the student’s “best educational interest.”

This “best educational interest” determination should be based on whether the course or program is in the student’s best interest, from an educational standpoint only, and should be made in light of the student’s individual circumstances and the specifics of the course or program in which the student is requesting to enroll.

DESE  normally thoroughly vets all MOCAP providers it approves; however, MOVA has not been vetted by DESE as a MOCAP provider. MOVA has become a MOCAP provider because the Grandview R-2 School District contracts with MOVA to provide virtual programming to its students. As of the time of this posting, there has been no documentation that MOVA meets the criteria that DESE would otherwise require of MOCAP providers it approves. That criteria, which currently appears on the MOCAP website, is as follows:

  • Whether the course aligns with Missouri Learning Standards.
  • Whether the course or program meets Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0).
  • The vendors undergo a data security review.
  • Whether Missouri appropriately certified teachers are teaching the courses.
  • Whether Advanced Placement (AP) courses have been approved by the College Board.

 

Because it is unclear if MOVA and/or its courses have been vetted against the above criteria, we recommend considering the above items within your district’s evaluation as to whether a particular course is in your student’s best educational interest.  This consideration would be in addition to the other factors outlined in our blog post regarding “best educational interest” available here:  http://edcounsel.law/2018/10/22/new-virtual-education-requirements-under-mocap/.   If the above requirements are not met, it is possible that the course or program would not be in your student’s best educational interest, and the request could be denied in that case.

We will continue to provide guidance on this matter as more information becomes available.  We anticipate that DESE will be providing additional guidance to districts as well.  If you have any questions regarding the “best educational interest” determination, MOVA or course enrollment requests you’ve received recently, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our team members at EdCounsel.