School begins in less than two weeks for East Tennessee's only virtual school, Tennessee Virtual Academy.
But the 600 new students who enrolled this summer may have a to find a different school this fall.
Union County Schools is holding an emergency meeting Thursday night to decide if new students will be allowed to attend Tennessee Virtual Academy.
Union County Schools contracts with a private company, K-12, to provide full-time online school as an alternative to the brick and mortar school. The students can live in any Tennessee school district.
A couple of weeks ago, the state's education commissioner, Kevin Huffman, sent a letter to the director of schools saying he found the latest round of test scores concerning. Under a new law passed in 2013, he is allowed to take action if virtual schools do not meet the appropriate achievement growth three years in a row.
In the letter, he said for the past three years, the Tennessee Virtual Academy test scores have stayed at a level "significantly below expectations." On July 10th, he put a freeze on new enrollment. It leaves the 600 students enrolled between May and July in limbo.
The second and third year students showed improvement.
"Based on the information and data we have, it is my recommendation that UCPS (Union County Public Schools) consider limiting enrollment in TNVA for the 2014-2015 school year to those students previously attending the school. To be clear, this district policy would ensure no new students are admitted to the school," Huffman wrote.
This does not impact the 1,200 students who are returning from previous years.
Union County Director of Schools Jimmy Carter is worried how this will impact the students and their families so close to the start of school. He said the students have already received their materials, computers, and books for the year.
"I do think about those families because there's something going on that they need the virtual school. I'm not sure of all the reasons of all 600 plus students but I am concerned about that," Carter said.
He said many of the students attend because they are sick and have to miss school often.
He added that he thinks the school has "come a long way" since it started three years ago.
"There's a lot of learning curves in doing a virtual school and I think we've conquered those. I think our scores reflect that," he said about the growth the students who have attended multiple years.
At the school board's emergency meeting, members will listen to the advice of legal counsel and decide what to do next.