A Popular Online Learning Platform Was Actually Created by an Underground Religious ‘Cult’
The creator of Acellus and the ‘cult’s leader has been accused of violence and abuse
It was summer when Mark Mauikānehoalani Lovell, a teacher at Palolo Elementary on Oahu, logged into Acellus Learning Accelerator, a remote education platform the school had planned to use as the pandemic shuttered classrooms for the foreseeable future. Unfamiliar with the product, Lovell scrolled through what seemed to be hundreds of its lessons. He eventually settled on humanities subjects, hoping to find something like his own class — a course called Hawaiiana and Pasifika — but quickly fell down a rabbit hole of disbelief. One minute turned into 10, and then an hour had gone by on the platform.
What Lovell discovered “was the most offensive thing I’ve ever seen,” he told OneZero.
By August, thousands of Hawaiʻi families were told their schools would be adopting Acellus Learning Accelerator to support online learning. But when the semester began, parents and teachers found what can be interpreted as racist, sexist, and other inappropriate material in a variety of Acellus courses. They immediately petitioned school districts to drop the product, causing parents in other states to realize their children, too, were using Acellus programs. Government records indicated the platform’s parent company had received hundreds of thousands of dollars in state and federal contracts. As of August 24, Hawaii’s Department of Education had purchased Acellus Learning Accelerator licenses for 78,670 students in 185 public and public charter schools. It later admitted that Acellus products have been used by the state for nearly a decade.
Hawai’i Set to Drop Acellus Remote Learning Platform Following Allegations of Abuse Against Creator
But other school districts across the country continue to use the platform