A survey of families with children enrolled at Commonwealth Charter Academy (CCA), a K through 12 public cyber charter school serving students throughout Pennsylvania, revealed that bullying and safety in their local school district rank as two of the top reasons for enrolling at CCA.
The survey was conducted to better learn how to accommodate and meet the needs of CCA’s more than 9,000 students enrolled statewide. As a public school and family service organization, CCA is committed to providing a holistic educational experience and understands the importance of family involvement for educational success.
“Most families don’t choose CCA because of it being an online-based learning environment,” said Dr. Maurice Flurie, president and CEO of CCA. “They choose CCA because oftentimes it’s the only public school alternative available to them when they have been mistreated, disrespected or bullied by their local school district.”
The survey’s results1 demonstrate the continued concern families have for their children in traditional public school settings. The top four reasons why families choose CCA’s cyber-based learning are flexible schedules; not feeling safe in a previous school; anxiety, depression or medical issues; and being bullied.
In 2018, only 19 percent of parents selected bullying as one of the reasons why they chose CCA for their school compared to 29 percent in 2019 – a 10 point, or 53 percent, increase over the previous year.
“To hear a kid say that they’re concerned about their safety in a school environment is just heartbreaking,” said CCA parent, Tunisia Garnett, about the concerns her daughter had with their local public high school. “I need my kids to be in an environment where they can actually focus on their education and their learning. That’s paramount to me.”
Enabled by the flexible learning schedule, CCA students can engage with school counselors and members of the Student Assistance Program (SAP) at any time throughout the day to talk through concerns or receive mental health support. The school’s family services department works with parents to build communities and support students at home.
While lessons at CCA are conducted online, family mentors and school counselors are always available to help families and students as they transition to a public cyber charter school. Not only are these professionals trained to listen and offer support, but they are also ready to design strategies that will successfully guide students through the healing process.
“Schools need to ensure that students feel safe. Trying to learn in an environment that creates fear and anxiety for a student can hinder them from focusing and prevent academic success,” said Natasha Shane, vice president of family services at CCA. “We understand that students come to us with different needs and we are mindful of their previous experiences so we can help each student move forward both academically and personally.”