Since the dawn of the 21st century, the various alternatives to K-12 public education are becoming more common. One of the school choices available to parents is online schooling. In February 2004, the U.S. Department of Education issued guidance specifically defining virtual (online) schooling as a legal and acceptable way to offer an additional school choice. As online school choice continues to expand, it is important to understand the parental decision-making process and what factors influence those decisions before enrolling, and what factors influence their decision after enrolling to continue enrollment year over year.
With the rise of K-12 school choice options around online learning, it became evident that online schooling is a viable alternative to a broad range of students whose needs are not met otherwise. The main motivational factor for this study is to learn about parental motivation and decision making processes about enrolling and re-enrolling children into Enlightium Academy, which I founded in 2003, starting with 16 students in Spokane, Washington and now serving over 2000 students worldwide. The primary question is directly tied to the purpose of this single case study: What motivates parents to choose and remain at Enlightium Academy rather than public, or other online K-12 private schools? The guiding questions tied to the purpose statement: (1) What are the internal factors that influence the parents motivation to choose Enlightium Academy over other public or online K-12 private schools? (2) How are such motivations impacted based on external factors? (3) Why would parents re-enroll their children year after year?