I made a huge mistake enrolling with Connections Academy. Our first two weeks with this school were challenging, but our last five weeks were horrible. I am taking the time to write this review because people need to know the potential problems they may face with this company. It’s administrative Office is in Orlando, FL but their corporate office is in Maryland. It is a UK owned company, also. I hope this review will save families the grief and stress it has caused mine. It wasn’t because of the humongous workload involved. Most parents know when they sign their children up for homeschooling it will be more work. It can also be very rewarding, If you have a well-structured and organized school, which Connections Academy is not. After much turmoil, I finally decided to withdraw my sixth-grade daughter this past Monday (it is Wednesday now and I am now in process of enrolling her in another school). There was confusion in the beginning about which virtual school our daughter would attend. We chose Florida Virtual School Fulltime because we thought that it would give her a quality education and we were under the impression that was the only option for her to receive a high school diploma. Boy, were we wrong.
It was one thing after another by the first week of school. Most of the online links and documents on the lesson pages would not load. I thought it was our computer, however, the same things happened on the library’s computers. By the third week of school, major problems were surfacing. It started with letters and characters such as exclamation points appearing across the entire page. Next, entire lines of quizzes and answers would disappear. I wasn’t sure what to think at first. Maybe just a computer glitch or something. We emailed teachers regarding this and would be sent a replacement question and answers. My daughter started to get behind in her lessons because she would have to go back and redo some of her quizzes and/or tests. We just figured we’d have to work a few weekends and get caught up, which we did, and things would get better. It only got worse. Not only were words disappearing, but then they started to be replaced with vulgar and filthy words. It happened on almost every lesson. It was as if someone had hacked into my daughter’s account and was manipulating the screen to their sick pleasure. I sent screenshots of some of these words to the homeroom teacher and she called back clueless, as everyone, including of the school’s principles, Harriet Zaret, and Ms. McBroom, would be. The IT department actually blamed our daughter, stating this was something that she could do easily. One said he and his friends learned how to do this when they were nine years old, which raised my eyebrows. Ms. McBroom, one of the school’s principles ( I lost track of how many they have) called with the IT manager on the computer, and blamed my daughter for using a process called “Script element” to manipulate the screen .No on in our household had even heard of this process. He said he would show me how easy it was, so I agreed to give him access to our computer and show me this so-called “easy” process. It was anything but simple. He showed me twice and I was totally confused. He said it was really easy. Furthermore, my daughter had no knowledge of some of the filthy content which was appearing on the screen. I told them this was occuring as I was sitting right there, but they didn’t believe me. We would both walk away from the computer and come back to find insults on the screen directed at us all members in our household. The IT department (this in all the way in Maryland, remember) continued to say it was something that could only be done at our computer, as if know one else in the world knows how to gain unauthorized access to someone esle’s computer. I am not tech-savvy and know that is untrue.
Vulgar and rude comments would continue to appear randomly in place of lesson content. At first, we thought it was a virus of some sort, so we took it to a computer expert. Turned out nothing was wrong with our computer.This happened on at least seven different computers, including four at the library and even at the computer expert’s shop. By then, my daughter was almost a week behind in her lessons, and it was causing us much stress, on top of being harassed by a cyber “demon”. We went to the library three days in a row attempting to catch up on her lessons, and all three times, vulgar language would show up. Since the school and their IT department was blaming my daughter, I wanted to prove her innocence by sitting with her and recording the computer screen with my iphone, in case anything showed up. Nothing showed up until we both got up to go to the bathroom. Came back and my daughter was called the f word with mother in front. I told the school it was either someone in their ITdepartment or one of their system’s servers was compromised, as our computer expert said. They denied everything, saying that was impossible and still blaming our daughter. Instead of finding out the cause of the nonsense, the school actually put a disciplinary notice against her! They did absolutely nothing to help. I only received calls from the assistant principle and leader, Marcie Trambino, apologizing for all this and asking me the same stupid questions repeatedly, such as- why no other student could see the inappropriate content. Obviously, if only one person’s account is hacked, the computer users are the only ones who can see it. I even had her username and password changed and that didn’t work.
I offered Ms. Trambino our username and password so she could possibly witness, with her own eyes, the inappropriate content herself, and she refused. I asked if a local school representative could meet us at the library and could be shown, she said she would find out and get back to me, and she didn’t even send me a call back. They did nothing, which we still cannot believe. To say the least, I am not only dissastified with the whole experience with this school. I am strongly advising anyone against enrolling in this school. There are other homeschooling options, such as flvs.net, which, upon enrolling, you will be registered with your district and given a liaison and hopefully, some protection against things like this. Not only were we cyber-bullied and harassed since enrolling with this school, other personal information was put on the lessons too, which raises serious security concerns. I reported all this to our local police department, and he told us that since this company is based in Maryland, they were basically giving us lip-service, and didn’t care. The IT deaartment as well as Connections representative, teachers, and all the administrative staff will tell you the IT department can only have access into your computer when given permission, but beware. It may not have been anyone in their department, but someohow, there was an open door somewhere in their system which allowed someone unlimited access into our account and gave them the freedom to insult, harass, degrade our family, as well as distract my daughter from getting her education. I sure hope this does not happen to another family.