Frontline Education Pursues Bold Vision With Key Backers

According to National Center for Education Statistics, there are almost 50.8 million students in the United States in 2019. They attend 132,000 schools across the country and are taught by 3.2 million full time equivalent teachers – it’s a large, complicated system with many moving parts. Luckily, they don’t have to do it on their own.

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Frontline Education is a leading provider of school administration software and they are there to help administrators and educators across the country manage the day-to-day operations of school life so staff can focus on what’s truly important – their learners. They deliver the tools, data and insights that education leaders need to manage staffing resources, business operations and special education.

Founded in 1998, Frontline started out by offering Aesop, the first automated substitute placement and absence management system to offer both the phone and web. They have built on their early successes and expanded their software services into human resources, recruiting, hiring, professional training, enterprise resource planning and supported outcomes for special education. In 2017, the ed-tech company traded in one private equity owner, Insight Venture Partners, for another when Thoma Bravo came courting with an offer well north of the billion-dollar mark.

About Frontline’s expansion, CEO Tim Clifford said that the single factor that contributed most to the company’s success was faith in their vision. “We knew we had the right investment partners, forward-thinking leadership, dedicated and capable team members as well as industry-leading solutions, but without buy-in and belief in our very aggressive strategy from everyone involved, we could not have reached these amazing achievements,” he said.

When they were first purchased by Insight Venture Partners in 2014, Frontline went on a shopping spree and acquired ten companies over the next three years. It enabled them to expand their industry footprint and add to their array of tech solutions. As of 2019, the company boasts a client roster that represents 80,000 K-12 schools and millions of educators and administrators.

“The team from Insight Venture Partners put incredible trust and resources in … Frontline’s ability to execute on our development roadmap as well as our acquisition strategy,” Clifford added. “That uncompromising belief and trust was felt across the company and empowered all Frontline Education employees to creatively approach and address any issues and obstacles they faced on the way to successful fulfillment of their individual goals, enabling the overall growth of the company.”

Clifford stated they were able to continue carrying the M&A torch under Thoma Bravo’s ownership. Most recently, Frontline signed a definitive agreement earlier in July to purchase Perennial EdTech whose portfolio of companies include Escape Technology (ERP), Digital Schools (school business software), eDoctrina (curriculum, assessment and accountability software), Healthmaster (school health management), and Software Answers (classroom and student management software).

“The Perennial EdTech acquisition enhances our commitment to providing school administration software that empowers the K – 12 community,” said Mark Gruzin, the new CEO of Frontline Education. “Bringing these critical technologies together further supports education leaders in making data-driven decisions to foster continued educator growth and improved student outcomes.”

Clifford stepped down as CEO of Frontline in March 2019 and was replaced by Mark Gruzin, who has previous experience as president of global markets at Blackboard and a number of leadership roles at IBM.