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Editorial: Lawsuit against K12 raises key question

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Posted: Saturday, August 9, 2014 12:00 am

Our recent story about a lawsuit filed against online education giant K12 raises a troubling question: Was Lodi Unified School District deprived of students and money by a firm it embraced as a partner?

To recap, K12 is being sued by a former employee who acted as account manager for Lodi Unified, which partnered with K12 to set up a virtual academy.

The lawsuit, filed by David Ehrenfeld, alleges that K12 diverted students and state money into its own charter school, the California Virtual Academy, also known as CAVA. Ehrenfeld was also account manager for a virtual academy at Elk Grove Unified.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, does not specify which district lost students and money because of the alleged diversion. But it is interesting to note, as reported by staff writer Jennifer Bonnett, while enrollment in Lodi’s virtual academy sputtered, enrollment in K12’s CAVA soared. Lodi’s program ended in 2013.

Coincidence? The lawsuit is unlikely to provide any public answers.

That’s because, by mutual agreement, Ehrenfeld’s suit has been assigned to a mediation process and may never be heard in an open courtroom. Ehrenfeld did not name Lodi Unified in his suit and is mainly interested in collecting wages and commissions. He and his lawyer both declined to speak with Bonnett.

Still, the question remains: Did Lodi Unified, and by extension, local taxpayers, suffer financially?

We wonder if the San Joaquin District Attorney has an interest in reviewing this case. At the very least, perhaps Lodi Unified’s legal staff might want to take a look.

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