JEFFERSON CITY, MO (STL.News) – Missouri State Senator Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, is supporting a lawsuit aimed at enforcing the intention of a key education bill passed by the Missouri General Assembly.
In 2018, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 603, sponsored by Sen. Onder. This legislation, which is now law, expands the Missouri Virtual Instruction Program, established in 2007, and creates the Missouri Course Access and Virtual School Program. This new program expands opportunities for eligible students to access online education, also known as virtual education, through their school if the provider meets certain requirements.
While SB 603 is law, some families are facing barriers in receiving its benefits. A Fulton area family recently sued the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Fulton School District after being denied access to Missouri Virtual Academy (MOVA), a virtual education program provided by the Grandview R-II School District. The suit alleges the Fulton School District and DESE denied the request by claiming MOVA is not a valid course access 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.”
Senator Onder believes MOVA meets the requirements to be used by the Fulton family, and that they are being wrongfully denied access to educational options.
“It is imperative for students to access the education and courses they need to succeed,” said Sen. Onder. “Senate Bill 603 was intended to expand opportunities for students to learn in an environment that works best for them, even if it is outside of the traditional classroom. It is outrageous that DESE and the Fulton School District are denying children the educational opportunities that are their right under Missouri law. I support the Estill family as they fight for their child and for other Missouri children. It is my hope that this case helps fulfill SB 603’s purpose of allowing students access to the education they deserve.”
The case is Estill v. Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, et al., Casenet number 19AC-CC00293.