Missouri Senator Bob Onder Applauds Online Education Lawsuit Ruling

JEFFERSON CITY, MO (STL.News) – Missouri State Senator Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, applauded the decision of Cole County Judge Gael Wood allowing a Fulton family to access a virtual education program after being denied its use by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Fulton School District.

On August 5, 2019, Judge Wood ruled that the Estill family cannot be denied access to the Missouri Virtual Academy (MOVA) virtual education program in light of the Missouri General Assembly’s passage of Senate Bill 603 in 2018.  This legislation, sponsored by Senator Onder, is now law and created the Missouri Course Access and Virtual School Program.  It allows eligible students to access online education, also known as virtual education, through their school if the provider meets certain requirements.

Before the court ruling, the Estills were denied access to the MOVA program by DESE and the Fulton School District which claimed MOVA was not a valid course program, despite SB 603 reading “Any online course or virtual program offered by a school district or charter school… shall be automatically approved to participate in the Missouri course access and virtual school program.”  The MOVA program for years has been used in summer school by the Grandview R-II School District.

Senator Onder supported the lawsuit’s intention of expanding educational opportunities for Missouri students.

“This ruling is not only a win for the Estill family, but for students across Missouri,” said Senator Onder.  “The General Assembly passed SB 603 so students could learn and succeed in whatever educational environment works best for them.  This ruling finally corrects the Fulton School District’s outrageous decision to deny the Estills the educational opportunities afforded to them under state law.  It is time for bureaucrats to end their obstructionism and follow the law.”

The case is Estill v. Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, et al., Casenet number 19AC-CC00293.