By Brooke Shafer

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Early Thursday morning, the Miami-Dade County School Board voted to no longer use the controversial online learning platform, K12.

The unanimous vote by the board happened around 2 a.m. Thursday, 13 hours after the meeting started. The school board’s meeting, which did not adjourn until 3:21 a.m., was dominated by issues with the online learning platform. Parents and teachers during the public comment section vented about the difficult start of the public school year.

“The lack of involvement in this decision from teachers is the problem. The people that are making decisions on new programs are not even teachers themselves probably,” said one woman through a voicemail submitted for public comment.

“We have so many problems, that I think it’s time that we abandon it,” said Board Member Dr. Marta Perez, who added K12’s CEO told her the company rushed to develop the online learning tool.

“During our conversation, he said three times, ‘This was not the fault of the administration. This was not the fault of Alberto Carvalho. We take full responsibility. The problem is the time compression’.”

In a letter to the school board, K12’s CEO noted the six-week time frame was a challenge and wrote, “The platform that supports students in grades six through twelve needed more work and clearly did not handle Miami-Dade’s requirements.”

At one point during the at-times heated board meeting, Miami-Dade Public School’s Superintendent Alberto Carvalho agreed with the frustrations and said he felt responsible for the issues that plagued the district’s 2020-2021 start.

“Ultimately, this was something that we believed was in the best interest of our students and teachers based on feedback that we got last year,” said Carvalho. “We trusted an entity that promised they could deliver on something that would live up to the expectations of our teachers, our students, and parents, after the Spring of 2020.”

United Teachers of President Dade Karla Hernandez-Mats applauded the School Board’s decision to dump the platform.

“We are very pleased that the school board made the decision to end the use of the K12 platform for our teachers and students. Despite efforts made by all, this program was not up to par with the curriculum, content or quality of instruction that our educators are accustomed to providing. There were some important lessons learned in this process. The first being that decisions about the classroom should never be made without the input of our educators as they are the experts and the people who know best what their students need. We expect that moving forward, the district will make a concerted effort to include us in any decision regarding curriculum for our classrooms. Second is that our teachers, despite the incredible challenges they faced over the past three weeks, have proven to be a dedicated, committed, resourceful and resilient workforce that persevered as a unit to ensure that teaching and learning would occur during these trying times. Our M-DCPS educators truly are the best in the nation, and as a community, we should be proud of their activism and their collective efforts last night to improve the academic success of their students.”

Middle and High School students within Miami-Dade County Public Schools have already been using alternate forms of online learning for the past week, like Microsoft Teams or Zoom. However, elementary students have remained using My School Online on the K12 system. Those students and teachers should look for alternate options moving forward if they haven’t done so already.

CBS4 checked, and as of Thursday morning, the K12 platform instead sent elementary school students to Microsoft Teams. The School District had told teachers, students, and parents to expect a decision on the virtual school platform by Friday.

During Wednesday night’s meeting which spilled into Thursday morning, Superintendent Carvalho added he never signed the $15 million contract with K12.

Parent Brandee Goldstein has two children in public school and says the platform
was frustrating.

“As a teacher, it’s been a nightmare,” Jodi Allen says she has struggled with the K12 platform.

Late Thursday, schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho owned the failure.

“The buck stops with me,” Carvalho said.

In a Facebook post, he outlined the path forward, a nine-point plan focused on security procedures and practices.

Five million dollars spent on infrastructure enhancements and allowing teachers and students to use Microsft teams and Zoom for classes.

“I’m hopeful things will be much better. We know it works.”

The head of the Miami-Dade Teachers Union said the K12 program was not up to par with the curriculum and that going forward, teachers should be included in curriculum decisions in the classrooms.

“I think they should take that $15 million for K12 and give it to the teachers,” an educator said.

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