• Florida Virtual School fighting legal battle with company of similar name


    ORLANDO, Fla. - Tax dollars are funding a major court battle that school leaders say, is over the quality of education for children.

    Parents got Florida Virtual School and Florida Virtual Academy confused, so leaders took the issue to the Supreme Court.

    A survey that was provided by Florida Virtual School found one-third of the people looking at them got confused.

    But the national for-profit running the Florida Virtual Academy program says the similarities are purely coincidental.

    Florida Virtual School says it has spent $300,000 tax dollars fighting to protect its name.

    The lead attorney for the state-run Florida Virtual School argues K12, Inc, a national for-profit, tried to trick parents by using two similar names, Florida Virtual Academy and Florida Virtual Program.

    "The decision about where to send your child to school is one of the most important decisions that a parent can make. When parents are being confused, and we have no doubt that they are, that's a serious problem," Stephen Luther, lead attorney for Florida Virtual School said.

    A father who works for Florida Virtual School complained that his daughter was not getting a good education through the program.

    It turns out his daughter was actually enrolled with Florida Virtual Academy.

    Luther is concerned the confusion may even keep kids from getting the best education.

    "There are many people who have questioned whether K12 is really putting its students first," Luther said. "K12 has shareholders, and the shareholders are very interested in the stock price."

    The for-profit group argues its program began using the name Florida Virtual Academy in 2003 and Florida Virtual School did not file a lawsuit until 2011.

    The legal battle over it could continue for years to come.

    If Florida Virtual School wins, the damages could far exceed all of the legal expenses.

    A spokesperson for K12 Inc.  emphasizes that the state authorized Florida Virtual Academy in 2003 and the use of its name.

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