Miami-Dade County Public Schools

Miami-Dade School Board Votes to Cut Ties With Online Learning Platform

Speakers at an hours-long virtual meeting called the platform "trash" and a "disaster"

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What to Know

  • Miami-Dade's school board voted unanimously just before 2 a.m. Thursday to end the agreement with My School Online
  • Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said teachers could expect a final decision by Friday
  • In the first board meeting since school began on Aug. 31, close to 400 teachers and parents submitted comments that were overwhelmingly negative

After a marathon meeting that started Wednesday and went into the early hours of Thursday morning, the Miami-Dade County Public Schools board voted to cut ties with the online platform that has been at the center of controversy and blamed by some for the problems at the start of the school year.

The school board voted unanimously just before 2 a.m. to end the agreement with My School Online, which is run by the for-profit tech education company K12.

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said teachers could expect a final decision by Friday.

"It is clear that M-DCPS must make immediate adjustments to ensure this District is able to deliver what our Board, community, teachers, students, and parents have come to expect from us, an excellent educational experience for all," Carvalho said in a lengthy statement posted on Facebook.

In the first board meeting since school began on Aug. 31, close to 400 teachers and parents submitted comments that were overwhelmingly negative about the online platform. The virtual board meeting started at 1 p.m. Wednesday and ended after the vote, about 13 hours later.

Four board members introduced items highly critical of My School Online. Hours into the meeting, board members did not have a chance to level their complaints in the meeting, nor did Carvalho have much of an opportunity to speak because the time was dominated by the comments.

Their comments were played as voicemails or being read into the record and they were uniformly critical of K12. The speakers trashed the platform as "trash," a "disaster," and one mother even told the board that "this is your Hurricane Katrina and you should be ashamed of yourselves."

Several hours into the meeting, the board members had to break for a previously scheduled budget meeting, where Carvalho spoke briefly when asked if there would be any additional funding put in the budget for cybersecurity, given that the start of the school year was impacted by IT issues and cyberattacks.

“It is my plan, it is not there yet because we cannot add it now, to reallocate $5 million in IT infrastructure and cybersecurity investments to the budget. It will be reflected in the February resolution," he said.

NBC 6 has been speaking to teachers and parents since school started to gain perspective on the issues.  

Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho is now in the hot seat as many say more could have been done to combat the cyberattacks. NBC 6's Ari Odzer reports.

Justin Romanelli teaches fifth grade at Virginia Boone-Highland Oaks Elementary School. He is representative of most of the district’s teachers when he describes the first seven days of school using My School Online. 

“It was an unmitigated disaster, we had major connection issues, for various reasons which I’m sure everyone saw on the news, this week has seemed to have been better,” Romanelli said, referring to the software problem and hack attempts which plagued the system last week. 

“I’m very sad and frustrated, I’m very sad for our community because the pain that I hear from our teachers who want to do the best they can and can’t get there,” said school board member Dr. Marta Perez. 

She spoke to NBC 6 via Zoom Wednesday before the board’s virtual meeting. 

“My message is, let’s solve problems, we have plenty of time to think about blame and who did what,” Perez said. 

Perez said she spoke personally to the CEO of K12, who also sent a letter to the board members Wednesday. 

CEO Nate Davis wrote, in part, “K12 wants to express our regret for the series of events that caused Miami-Dade county Public School students, families, teachers, and administrators to have a difficult start to the school year ... the K12 team has worked around the clock in concert with the Miami-Dade team to address our issues.”

Perez had introduced a resolution to dump the K12 platform altogether, even as the bugs are being worked out.

“For the most part, though, the K12 system itself seems to be working, the biggest problem we’re having is with the Newrow portion of the K12 system,” Romanelli said.

Newrow is My School Online’s video conferencing tool. Many speakers at Wednesday's meeting bashed Newrow as being unreliable.

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