HB 1035: Establish virtual public school

House Bill 1035, sponsored by Rep. Rob Roberson, would establish a virtual public school pilot program for Mississippi students.

The state’s existing virtual education statute, which became law in 2006, already authorizes the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) to establish a state virtual public school, but no statewide, full-time option exists today. Students may only access individual courses through their school district.

In the wake of lockdowns and with increasing interest in at-home and distance learning, virtual schools dedicated to providing a full-time academic program online with teacher-led courses and support are gaining popularity. Thirty-three states have full-time, tuition-free virtual school options available to their students, including every southern state except Mississippi.

These schools can help with emergency preparedness, but they can also provide a quality education to students who need non-traditional options at their fingertips – students with health concerns, students who learn at a different pace, students in rural areas, or students who need schedule flexibility. Students in failing schools or unsafe environments could benefit immediately.

This bill would allow public school districts, regional service agencies, and a Governor-appointed state board to open virtual public schools serving students residing anywhere in the state.

Empower Mississippi supports this bill.

It has been referred to Education and Appropriations. You can read the bill here.