FARMINGTON — The New Mexico attorney general released a formal opinion Tuesday stating a Farmington-based online charter school is violating a state law concerning a for-profit company's involvement in managing a school.

Attorney General Gary King says an agreement between the New Mexico Virtual Academy charter school and K12 Inc. violates the New Mexico Charter Schools Act, which prohibits a for-profit entity from operating a charter school.

The online charter school opened in fall 2012 and serves 500 students from sixth to 12th grade in an online environment. Its headquarters and learning center are housed at 845 N. Sullivan Ave. in Farmington.

New Mexico Virtual Academy student teacher Anna Anderson works with sixth-grade student Emily Payne on a math assignment in Farmington.
New Mexico Virtual Academy student teacher Anna Anderson works with sixth-grade student Emily Payne on a math assignment in Farmington. (The Daily Times file photo)

In an email, Larry Palmer, the school's governing board president, declined to comment on the opinion, saying school administrators had not reviewed a copy of the opinion.

"We are concerned that the AG's opinion may be based on a former version of our agreement with our curriculum and educational services vendor," Palmer said. "In the fall of 2013, that agreement was substantially amended and to my knowledge no one from the AG's office has asked us to verify whether the version of the agreement analyzed by the AG is the applicable contract."

Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, asked the attorney general in March 2013 if the agreement between the school and K12 Inc. violates state law, said Phil Sisneros, communications director for the attorney general's office, on Wednesday.

King's opinion states K12 Inc. is integrated into nearly every aspect of the school's administration and the agreement allows the company to assist in operations, including preparing a budget, financial planning and obtaining insurance.

K12 Inc. is also "intimately involved in the maintenance of the school's student records and business administration," the opinion states. That means K12 Inc. provides advice on areas like student discipline, privacy laws, advertising and interviewing job candidates, and making recommendations to the school board, according to the opinion.

The New Mexico Virtual Academy is chartered through the Farmington Municipal School District.

Sisneros said it is up to the district to ensure the school is in compliance with state law.

Superintendent Janel Ryan declined comment on the attorney general's opinion.

Ryan said in an email she is waiting for contact from the New Mexico Virtual Academy's attorneys.

She said if there is reason to question the school's contract, the school district will review it to ensure it is in compliance with state law.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 and jkellogg@daily-times.com. Follow him @jkelloggdt on Twitter.