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Report Recommends New Board for Florida Virtual School

Committee says it's time for a new board at Florida Virtual School. Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

A new, independent board of directors, inspector general and ethics standards are needed for the scandal-plagued Florida Virtual School, according to a new report from the state’s Department of Education.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that the recommendations released Friday by the Florida Department of Education also say Florida’s public online school needs to implement cybersecurity measures.

The school had a data breach last year, and its former general counsel resigned following an investigation by the Sentinel that documented accusations of improper spending and behavior.

The school has been “plagued in recent years with recurring leadership crises that threatened to destabilize what was otherwise a school with high quality educators, curriculum and innovative online course delivery,” the report said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and state lawmakers ordered a state takeover of the online school.

The virtual school operates as its own $240 million public school district serving more than 200,000 students. All Florida public high school students are required to take at least one virtual class, and many choose the school as the provider.

About $1.5 million will be saved by doing away with vacant positions and another $20.2 million from a state discretionary fund will be phased out of the virtual school’s budget over four years, according to the report.

The recommendations came a month after the department received an audit on the school.

Ernst & Young of Tallahassee was paid $193,060 for the 48-page audit, which was released this week and failed to provide additional insight into what went wrong at the virtual school. The largest section of the public audit, 15 pages, was pulled — largely word-for-word — from existing reports by the school or other organizations’ publications, according to the Sentinel.

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