DeKalb parents say they are running into problems with county’s online teaching program

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — A DeKalb County mother says her son has not been able to log in to an online teaching program since before Thanksgiving.

Channel 2 broke the story that DeKalb schools admitted privately that the program was badly managed for several weeks starting last August. But publicly the district insisted “there is no mismanagement.”

Channel 2′s investigative reporter Richard Belcher says grades for the fall semester still haven’t been submitted because of repeated extensions of the semester to allow struggling students to finish their work.

[RELATED: Nearly half of students in DeKalb school FLEX Academy are failing, investigation finds]

Flex Academy, as the school district calls it, enrolled almost 3,600 DeKalb students last fall in a program that leaves students largely on their own. They have video access to their teachers for just a couple of hours a week. Some students are clearly struggling. Channel 2 reported last week that 46% of the grades were failing as of Jan. 14.

Diana Hunter contends her 16-year-old special education son was moved into Flex without her authorization and with bad results. She told Belcher it’s been deeply frustrating to try to reach someone who can help her son. “I’ve called the superintendents,” she said.

Hunter says her son Broc’ari was enrolled at Cedar Grove High School through the end of the 2020-21 school year. “I’ve called the school. I’ve called the counselor. I’ve called everyone that I can think to call,” she said.

She was grateful when she saw our Channel 2 stories that included school officials admitting that they mismanaged Flex last semester. An early January video of a meeting of Flex teachers and their administrators included this remark from Keatra Wright, head of all online instruction for the 92,000-student district. “We messed up first semester, so we’re making up for it.”

[RELATED: Investigation finds more than 150 DeKalb County teachers were not paid for entire semester]

Hunter says the district put her son into Flex to start the new school year last August. Belcher asked if she can recall authorizing the move. “Not that I can honestly recollect,” Hunter responded.

Hunter’s son has attention deficit disorder. Students with a diagnosis like that are eligible for special education and are given what is commonly called an IEP, an individualized education plan. About Flex, and its requirement of mostly independent work, she told Belcher it is a bad fit for her son and most other special education students.

“It’s terrible. It’s absolutely terrible because they don’t offer any help for the students that have the IEP,” she said.

After enduring the same problems that affected all Flex students for the first six weeks of last semester, Broc’ari Hunter says he hasn’t been able to log in to his online classes since November. He showed us how he regularly tries to use the password the district sent him.

“I have been putting it in since I got the new number, and it’s not been working.” He says he needs to be able to log in. “I’m rusty at multiplication. I’ve completely forgotten division,” he said in the interview with Channel 2.

When asked if she fears that her son will have failing grades, Hunter told Channel 2, “He doesn’t have any grades. He doesn’t have any grades.”


“We’re losing. We’re losing. We’re lost,” she said. And Hunter is convinced that other Flex parents are facing the same problem. “We desperately need help,” she pleaded.

Channel 2 notified district officials of our intent to air a story about Diana Hunter and her son, but federal privacy rules don’t allow education officials to discuss individual students.

Students not enrolled in Flex Academy had to have all their first semester assignments completed by Dec. 17, but because the district “messed up,” Flex students were given until Jan. 10, then Jan. 24 and finally until Feb. 1 to complete their work. One teacher tells Channel 2 grades will now be submitted Jan. 28.

About 160 Flex teachers, who teach the online courses in addition to classroom instruction, are supposed to be paid $6500 at the close of the semester, but their payday was pushed back because of the extensions of time for students to complete their work. One source tells Channel 2 teachers will be paid Jan. 28.