Parents left scrambling after surprise closure of Abington charter school

ABINGTON TWP., Pa. (WPVI) -- Parents of students who attend Education Plus Cyber Charter School in Abington learned on Monday they may not have a place to learn when the school year starts next month.

Because of state mandate, approximately half of the 1,000 families whose kids are enrolled in the school are now scrambling to find a school to send their kids to sometime next month.

The worst part is, most of those students are special needs children.

Billie Bakhshi is one of the many parents blindsided by the news. She tells us, "We had no idea this was coming."

Parents say Education Plus Cyber Charter School has done wonders for their kids with disabilities, ranging from dyslexia to autism, just to name two.

Karolyn's Kachigian says her son who has Asperger Syndrome has flourished since entering Education Plus two years ago.

She tells us, "Now he has friends. He wants to be a veterinarian. He went from being below average to doing eighth grade work when he's going into seventh grade. We don't have another choice."

The problem is that Education Plus is chartered as a cyber school, which by definition means it's not a brick-and-mortar facility where students are required to show up.

But Nicholas Torres, CEO and cofounder of Education Plus, says since most of his students have special needs, their facilities are actually designed for working families who cannot be home to help guide her children through the Internet-based curriculum.

Torres says it's actually a system he designed with the purpose of accommodating special needs families.

He explains, "Most of our parents, they've tried four or five different public options. Most of them can't afford a private option. And so what we've essentially done to them, or been force to do to them is two weeks before school, now they're going to have to make some hard decisions."

But the parents we spoke with say they are still hopeful this situation can be resolved.

Olga Stoianov says, "Everything is taken away from us. And I'm just hoping that somebody in Harrisburg is gonna hear us and something is going to change."

Action News received a statement from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, which reads in part:

"The department has given Education Plus many opportunities to fix its educational model and to comply with the law and they have chosen not to ... and now have put their students and parents in a difficult position."
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