HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - At least four Hawaii schools have now suspended use of a Department of Education-approved platform for online learning.
Aliamanu Elementary School said effectively immediately, it is canceling all student accounts with Acellus due to “inappropriate and racist content.”
Later on Monday, Hickam Elementary, Nimitz Elementary and Shafter Elementary schools also made similar announcements saying they would drop the program.
two other schools, , also suspended their ties to the program. The schools made the announcement on their websites.
“Since implementing the program, several concerns have been expressed regarding the appropriateness and rigor of the curriculum provided in Acellus,” Nimitz Elementary said.
Critics say the program's founder was also tied to a cult.
Acellus was the option given to parents who opted for 100% distance learning — before the DOE made its own announcement about full online learning.
Families have also criticized public school teachers over the program because it doesn't include interaction with their teachers or classmates, unlike the online curriculum for those who chose in-person learning.
One mother who spoke to HNN said what’s equally concerning is that the curriculum is simply not up to par.
Her son is a ninth-grader and she is worried the Acellus program will mean her son will fall behind his classmates.
“It’s supposed to be used in addition to a larger curriculum, which is what Acellus Academy is and all of this I learned about at this past board meeting — it came out that the program was never supposed to be used on its own,” said Cassie Favreau-Chung. “So that would largely explain why my son is able to complete a whole day of school or a week’s worth in maybe a couple of hours.”
Schools also asked parents to sign an agreement to commit their children to an entire semester of Acellus distance learning.
The Department of Education defended the program, saying the program’s “quality distance learning instructional materials align to national standards.”
“There have been recent negative claims about the program,” the DOE said. “The Department has been using Acellus for the last 10 years and did not receive any complaints until a recent social media campaign. These posts have been tied to an Acellus competitor and have not been substantiated.”
The schools who have canceled the use of Acellus say families will be given information on the next steps regarding lessons in the coming days.
This story will be updated.