Source: Sherman Publications

Virtual academy severs ties with homeschool group

by Trevor Keiser

July 03, 2013

After two years of working with Homeschool Connections as a home school vendor for the Oxford Virtual Academy (OVA.) OVA officials have decided to go a different route.

OVA Director Andrew Hulbert sent out a June 6 e-mail to OVA parents letting them know the partnership would “conclude at the end of the 2012/2013 school year” and that OVA would “continue to offer a wide variety of homeschool elective options,” as well as thanking Tarla Gernert (director of Homeschool Connections and Homeschool Connections Educational Services for their efforts with OVA.

“Her hard work and dedication has been unprecedented and many of us will be eternally grateful,” Hulbert wrote.

The news came as a surprise to Gernert who said in an e-mail to Homeschool Connection parents that she had talked with Hulbert the previous week before receiving the e-mail and was assured that everything was good and “all was well.”

“When I started working with Oxford Virtual Academy and helped develop their program, I was excited for all of the additional educational opportunities that this program provided,” she wrote. “I am very sorry to see it come to an end.”

Hulbert told this reporter Gernert’s thinking all was well was “her perception.” Information had been circulated through social media and e-mail that the reason for the separation was due to Homeschool Connections being “faith based,” but Hulbert sent an e-mail to parents clarifying that was not the reason.

“Oxford Community Schools has no issue maintaining agreements with faith based organizations; however, the district must maintain a neutral viewpoint within the curriculum,” he wrote. “In fact, we embrace those opportunities to do so within the guidelines allowed by the Michigan Department of Education.”

According to the OVA website calendar the last day of semester 2 was June 6 and the last day to register for classes as a current OVA student was June 7. When asked by the Oxford Leader when they decided to end the partnership and why they waited to the last day of the semester to send out the e-mail to let parents know, Hulbert said it was a “long term decision.”

According to Superintendent Dr. William Skilling, “the decision was comtemplated for several months.”

“The final decision was not made until the week of June 6 and we informed parents and students as soon as we had agreed on moving in a new direction,” he said. “The agreement was annual and the timeline for extending the new agreement was in June.”

Further reasons for ending their relationship with Homeschool Connections, said Skilling was to “not limit their ability to service all students wanting their classes.”

“We had two good years working with her (Gernert) as a consultant and her organization. We are still seeking to provide virtual education to any student who desires our virtual classes which includes students from Homeschool Connections,” he added.

“ We also are continuing to partner with other homeschool groups to provide seated classes in addition to offering our virtual classes.”

Details of OVA’s new partnerships will be announced soon, noted Hulbert

“This will not be one person directing everything,” he added. “Each of these groups will have boards, so it won’t be a one person directed organization and many people will have a say in the decisions.”