WORTHINGTON - Some changes to Independent School District 518’s online VIBE program are in the works following what was categorized a minor complaint against the offering.

District 518 Superintendent John Landgaard reported to Monday’s Board of Education Instructional Committee members that the district continues to work with the Minnesota Department of Education to implement changes in order to continue the online program, which services more than 700 students across the state and experienced rapid growth at the start of the last school year. He said the department’s review of the program will occur next school year.

“We need to make some corrections to make it a program that’s quality,” said Landgaard, adding that the required and recommended adjustments don’t appear to be insurmountable.

Changes to the program will include how expenditures are reported, restructuring the supervision of teaching staff and making the teachers District 518 staff. Of the state’s 32 online programs, only four don’t have the teachers as part of its own staff, including Worthington, Landgaard reported.

“For those four (districts) that don’t have employees as direct employees, you either have to move them over or you won’t have a program,” he said.

Landgaard also reported the MDE strongly suggests the district appoint or hire more administrative help overseeing the program.

The suggested changes and review of the program is a result of a December 2018 complaint made by a parent of a VIBE student to the MDE.

According to a redacted email sent to the MDE, the parent complains about a fee related to the company the district contracts its services through. The parent additionally complained about a lack of contact from the teacher. MDE also documents a phone call where a parent complained about inadequate education, reporting that the student was only required to complete four worksheets each week to show progress but had no teacher contact.

Board of Education President Brad Shaffer said the complaint may be the nature of the beast as the program grows.

“With 700 people with differing reasons why they’re in this program, you’re going to come up with these things,” he said.  

Landgaard said he gets the impression that MDE officials want to see the district’s online program continue.

“We need to follow the rules that are in place is what it comes down to,” Landgaard said.