DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Channel 2 Action News has learned that a DeKalb Schools online program that had serious mismanagement problems at the start of the last school year is off to a bad start again.
Investigative Reporter Richard Belcher discovered that a good example of the continuing problems with what DeKalb calls FLEX Academy is the website.
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When clicking on course offerings, which students are doing at the first day of a semester, the site tells you “Under Construction.” This is concerning after last school year began with serious technical problems, including weeks of delays to complete the first semester and produced grades that were about a third F’s.
“My big question is: why was it so last minute?” says DeKalb parent Lindsay Mast.
She needs limited access to FLEX for a child who is home-schooled and required to have at least one DeKalb class to participate in athletics.
About finding course information, Mast told Channel 2, “I’ve been given a few options. I don’t know when they would meet. I don’t know what they would entail, and I’m not entirely sure what would be required of my child at this point.”
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It’s a reminder of the chaos that plagued FLEX last August.
In January, Channel 2 obtained video of a FLEX staff meeting after the Christmas holidays, when administrators were still delaying the closeout of the first semester because of continuing problems.
A senior administrator told teachers and staff, “We messed up first semester, so we’re making up for it.”
FLEX parents also just learned that full-time students would have to attend one day each week in person at Andrews High School in Stone Mountain. That may not affect Lindsay Mast’s child, but she says it’s clearly confusing.
“The first indication I got that my kid was going to be expected to be somewhere in person, I received the day before DeKalb County schools, “Mast said. I didn’t even know what it means. I’m not zoned for that high school. I hadn’t heard of it.”
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In an email, the school district’s chief academic officer doesn’t dispute criticism of the nonfunctioning website or criticism of late notices to parents. But she says information was given to principals and counselors and parents should question them. The statement also calls FLEX “an alternative program with a limited staff to supplement school course offerings.” That downsizing means FLEX is just for tenth through twelfth graders this year.
Mast says a friend had been counting on enrolling her ninth grader. “So she’s very much left hanging with her ninth grader as to what that child is going to do,” she told Belcher.
Mast says if she were an educator, she would definitely ding DeKalb’s grade for poor preparation and she really dislikes the uncertainty for her daughter. “Why are we waiting until the week that classes start? It certainly stressed me out as a parent, but I’m a grown-up. My kids aren’t there yet,” she told us.
In regards to the one day in-person required of full-time FLEX students, the district says those weekly check-ins will be virtual to start the semester, while the district looks at transportation needs.
Lindsay Mast is married to an employee of WSB-TV.
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