At the School Board Meeting of September 9, 2020, School Board Vice Chair Dr. Steve Gallon III proffered Board Agenda Item H-13, School Opening, Distance Learning and Related Programs which was approved by the Board and co-sponsored by Board Chair Ms. Perla Tabares Hantman, Ms. Maria Teresa Rojas, and Dr. Larry Feldman. The immediate impact of this item was the termination of the K12 platform in M-DCPS schools.

The School Board of Miami-Dade County remains committed to providing all students with a quality education, inclusive of academic support and enrichment opportunities, during the current pandemic vexing the community, state, nation, and world. The Board, along with the Superintendent, district staff, principals, teachers, and employees have resolved to deliver consistent, continuous, and equitable educational programming to students and families via distance learning programs and platforms. This has been necessary as a result of the risks associated with “face to face” instruction due to recent positivity rates and related health and safety concerns in Miami-Dade County pertaining to COVID-19.

These circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic also required a more strategic, deliberate, and thoughtful plan of action around training and related support for parents in the use of digital/distance learning platforms and technologies. Ultimately, the Digital Model was presented as the sole option that would be made available to parents, along with a new digital platform, K12 which would be used as the district’s single online platform for teachers, students, and families.

From the onset, challenges and issues were reported with the launch of the training and professional development on K12 beginning August 24, 2020. Concerns and issues were voiced by teachers, as well as parents who were also registered to begin online training during the same period. Concerns ranged from the effectiveness and delivery methods and content of the training to the compressed time to learn and prepare to utilize a new, critically important digital learning platform. Some teachers also expressed concerns that curriculum for their particular subject areas were not available and/or offered through the system. These concerns and issues were expressed through Monday, August 31, 2020, the first day of school at which point a “tipping point” was realized with the total “shutdown” of M-DCPS’ online system—preventing students, parents, and employees from accessing the district and related student learning platforms.

Other issues that have come forth were not only regarding connectivity, but of curriculum content.

The item also directed the Superintendent to provide a review and discussion of the paradigm, process, and policy utilized to select and contract with K12 as the sole provider of online learning curriculum and/or platform services to M-DCPS; the training and professional development provided to district and school leaders, teachers, employees, and parents in preparation for the 2020-2021 school year; procedures and protocols, as well as personnel responsible for the mitigation and avoidance of cyber-attacks on the District’s technology and internet infrastructure; available approved options for distance learning that may be used other than that which is currently provided and related contractual terms of the existing provider; and plans moving forward to ensure a safe, seamless, and smart reopening for both distant and schoolhouse learning models.

“I’m proud of the unanimous support of my colleagues of both agenda items I proffered which not only immediately ended the vexing, almost nightmarish use of the K12 platform by teachers, parents, and students, but also made a significant policy amendment which would preclude such a no-bid purchase without School Board approval in the future. This decision would immediately enable teachers to utilize district approved platforms for online learning that they are familiar with, trained on, and that parents are accustomed to that will ensure an improved, more enhanced teaching and learning experience during these already challenging times,” said Dr. Gallon.