(WBIR-Jacksboro) Students who thought they would be taking classes through a new virtual school were instead in classrooms at public schools in Campbell County Friday.
State education officials denied Campbell County Schools' virtual academy application to operate, leaving hundreds of parents asking what comes next.
"I've had the telephone ringing all day of parents like, 'Ok, I've had to take my child to school and I can't believe I'm leaving them there'," said Eunice Reynolds, special projects manager for Campbell County Schools.
Reynolds said many of the teens are the bread winners of their families.
"They work, they sometimes have more than one job. Some of those students try to go to public schools but can't make a passing grade because they miss too many classes. And they don't mean to, they just can't juggle that big of a schedule," said Reynolds.
Reynolds explained others have autism or disabilities.
"One child who can't be taken to school has had twenty-something operations," said Reynolds. "The child who has autism or Asperger's is a very special child who most of the time is written out of special education laws. They don't have a handicap that is served as a type that is served."
Reynolds said the impact goes beyond the hundreds of students who would have taken classes online.
"Some of them are brilliant kids. And they get in the classroom and cause trouble because they've done that, they already know that, and they're not going to do it again," said Reynolds. "Some of them can't stop singing or talking or flailing. They can't really stay in a regular classroom and let all the children around them learn."
A letter from the state denied the virtual academy, which would have been operated by a for-profit company, K-12 Inc., on July 30th.
The only other virtual school in the state is based in Union County, and recent data showed students enrolled there scored in the bottom 11% of the state.
Reynolds said the cyber academy in Campbell County would be different, and said it has the support from the majority of the school board, local officials, and local churches and non profit organizations.
First Baptist Church of Lafollette already helps students in need, and offered to help provide internet connection for virtual academy students who needed it.
"We would like to see children who fall through the cracks that have these very pressing needs be able to have a way that they can catch up," said Pastor Duane Mills.
Mills said the church cannot do it all, but usually in a small, tight-knit community, organizations team together to help families.
"We can't do it all," said Mills. "An online program would allow those difficult cases, where a child just can't fit into the typical process, the typical system, to catch up or stay even and get their education."
Administrators with Campbell County Schools were scheduled to hold a virtual conference with K12, Inc., Saturday.
"We are going to work together to honestly, truthfully, answer questions from the state tomorrow," said Reynolds. "We are committed to our mission of helping every student. We want to help every young person maximize their potential, and we want our future to be bright, because they are our future."
Saturday's conference was scheduled so leaders can respond to the letter from the state, which outlined unanswered questions and required documentation Campbell County Schools allegedly did not supply with its application.