FARMINGTON — State lawmakers heard from the state attorney general's office and the New Mexico Virtual Academy as they reviewed the AG's opinion on the agreement between the online charter school and a for-profit company contracted to provided services to the school.
Members of the New Mexico Legislative Education Study Committee's charter school subcommittee met Wednesday at San Juan College.
The New Mexico Attorney General's opinion states that the agreement between the Farmington-based online charter school and K12 Inc. could violate state law.
Assistant Attorney General Joseph Dvorak started the meeting with a review of the April opinion. It states the administrative and managerial involvement by K12 Inc. could constitute "management," a violation of the state's Charter School Act, which prohibits a for-profit entity from operating a charter school.
Lawrence Palmer, the school's governing board president, provided several answers in regards to K12 Inc.'s involvement with the school and how the company is not involved in basic management activities.
"We hope to demonstrate that K12 does not manage the school," Palmer said.
Palmer said K12 Inc. is not involved in the hiring, discipline, evaluations or firing of employees at the school. And he said that the company is not involved with the school's budget, which is prepared by the school staff and the governing council and approved by the Farmington Municipal School district Board of Education.
Palmer also said the company is not involved with managing the school's finances, establishing policies and procedures or appointing members of the governing council. He said no company employees sit on the school's board.
Dvorak said he wanted to point out that the analysis in the opinion was based on the agreement itself.
"If the association between K12 and the virtual academy is different because they are not utilizing all aspects of the agreement or not using the services to the full extent, that was not part of our analysis," Dvorak said. "Our analysis was simply whether or not this agreement was in compliance with state law."
Vice Chairwoman Rep. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, said the mission of the meeting was to try and understand virtual charter schools and work on statutes for the future.
"We don't have any guidance in our charters about virtual schools," Stewart said.
In his closing remarks, Dvorak said it might be difficult in the future to define what limitations should be placed on for-profit companies. He said a better option might be defining the management requirements for the schools.