Senate OKs virtual school measure

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Gov. Bill Haslam's proposal to tighten enrollment requirements at privately run online schools has passed the Senate.

The measure guided by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville was approved 27-2 on Thursday.

The proposal would allow beginning online schools to start with an enrollment of 1,500 and continue to expand as long as they meet performance requirements. If they fail to do so for three consecutive years, then the state education commissioner can cap enrollment, or direct the local school board to close it.

Haslam's initial proposal sought to cap online school enrollment at 5,000.

Critics have pushed for capping enrollment following the low performance of Tennessee Virtual Academy, the state's only privately operated virtual school.

Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman called its first-year test results "unacceptable."

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