***Updated*** Coronavirus Closings And Cancellations In Delaware Education, General Assembly Update, State of Emergency Declared

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Saturday the 14th Update: They are all closed as per Governor Carney’s order yesterday, from March 16th to March 27th, with a tentative reopening date of March 30th.  I’m going to give a 25% chance of schools reopening on the 30th.  A lot of it will depend on how Covid-19 spreads in the coming weeks.

Friday the 13th Update:

Nothing has been made official yet but I’m hearing from many parents in New Castle County that students are being asked to take home any belongings.  School nurses are calling parents to let them know kids are bringing medicine home that would normally be stored with the school nurse.  There is confusion about a potential positive case of Coronavirus which prompted Providence Creek Academy to close today and it may or may not be affiliated with a visit to Polytech which dismissed at 11:30am today.


As the Coronavirus has now afflicted four people in Delaware, we can only assume those numbers will increase.  Now is not the time to panic but it should be a time to prepare.  Be prepared for your child’s school closing.  Be prepared and ready to make sure your under-age child or children have adequate supervision, especially for working parents.

The following list is for schools that have announced closure or cancellation of activities due to the ongoing Coronavirus.  With Delaware surrounded by so many states, it was only a matter of time.  And there will be more.  To get up to date information from the State of Delaware with how many cases there are and how many pending, please go here.

Most school districts sent home letters with students with a basic preparedness plan earlier this week.  There seems to be a tiered level where things can change and events or school is canceled.  Last Monday there was an emergency meeting at the Delaware Department of Education which was attended by superintendents, DSEA, Governor Carney, Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting, and other public education affiliates.

As major cancellations across the country are going down, like the cancellation of the NBA, NCAA, NHL, and possibly MLB, folks in Delaware wondering why schools aren’t shutting down.  It’s coming.  One of the major concerns at the big education meeting earlier this week was how it would work.  Doing it after the 3rd marking period ends would make more sense with closing schools down the rest of the school year.  And yes, that is a possibility.

What came out of this meeting was the guidance parents are getting this week.  This is being issued at a state level.  The following screenshot from Lake Forest School District can be currently found on most school district websites:

Screenshot_2020-03-12 LFSD-Pandemic-Preparedness-Action-Plan-Public pdf

Many districts are sending surveys to parents to find out about wi-fi and computer capabilities from home.  I received one yesterday from my son’s school district in Capital.

If you hear of any closings please email me at kevino3670@yahoo.com and I will update this post if given viable information.  Thank you! Continue reading

Governor Carney Closes Delaware Schools For Next Two Weeks

After a lot of back and forth, Delaware Governor John Carney signed an Executive Order to close all Delaware public schools for the next two weeks:

State to close schools March 16 through 27 to prepare for potential spread of coronavirus (COVID-19)

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Friday directed all Delaware public schools close from March 16-27, to allow schools to prepare for potential spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The following is an excerpt from a letter Governor Carney sent to superintendents and charter school leaders on Friday:

Over the next two weeks, the State of Delaware will work with school leaders and public health experts to create a plan for Delaware students and educators as this coronavirus outbreak continues. We will specifically prepare for the potential impact of extended school closures on Delaware children and their families. Public school leaders should also undertake a deep cleaning of their facilities during the two-week closure.

Delaware children deserve a world-class education, and ongoing access to services that are delivered in our schools each day. Many students – especially those from disadvantaged communities – also rely on school meals for nutrition, and other important social services. We will be working with districts to plan for providing learning opportunities and other meal and social services for our students in the event of an extended closure.

The Reason Delaware Schools Aren’t Closed Yet

There are two major reasons Delaware schools aren’t closing yet.  Equity and special education.  It all comes down to the digital learning environment school kids will be exposed to.  School districts are worried about potential lawsuits.

For special education, federal IDEA law demands students get accommodations for their disabilities in an educational environment if their disabilities interfere with their ability to succeed academically.  With digital learning from home, how would those accommodations happen?  Disability Scoop covered this topic today in an article.

The Education Department said that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act do not specify what should occur if schools are closed for an extended period of time, which is considered more than 10 consecutive days. However, schools should generally offer the same level of services to students with disabilities that they are providing to other children.

As for equity, what about those families that don’t have wifi or bandwidth, or for that matter, computers, for their children to access digital learning from home.  That is a huge concern.  If they don’t receive instruction how can they even grasp educational material?  What happens when the students return and those who were not able to get the digital learning are woefully behind?

These are the concerns the districts are having.  And while we are in a state of emergency at not just the state level but the whole country, it does open up the possibility of litigation.  But what is more important?  Money or the health and well-being of not just students but every single citizen in the state?  With all the ed-tech personalized learning, how did these get-rich quick companies not prepare for a day like this?  But I digress…

So Governor Carney needs to be the one to make the call according to the districts.  But will he?  Or will he leave it up to the districts?  As the risk and danger to Delaware citizens continues.  Don’t believe what the Secretary of Health in Delaware is saying.  About schools being safer.  They aren’t.  It is just a bigger Petri dish.

Meanwhile, parents are left with a choice- do I send my kid to school or not?  Some districts, like Christina, are telling parents they need a doctor’s note in order to have an absence excused.  So some parents are sending kids in whether they are sick or not cause their kid has too many absences already.  It is a dangerous time folks!

 

As Governor Carney And School Districts Play The “Are We Closing” Tug Of War, Students And Families Are At Risk More Every Single Day

It was widely expected parents in Delaware would hear something about school closings today.  It is now after most schools have gotten out for the day and nothing.  But what is going on behind the scenes is even more confusing.  Delaware Governor John Carney is playing a game with the school districts and they are not happy about it. Continue reading

The Toilet Paper Hoarders of Delaware

As I got some groceries at Target last night, the top of my list was toilet paper.  I had to get some anyway.  I saw many carts filled with toilet paper.  There was no limit to customers.  I grabbed what little was left, an 18 pack of Angel Soft.  I figured that would keep for a while. This situation played out up and down The First State yesterday as it has across the country.

People are not necessarily panicking, they are preparing.  For the worst.  For a potential eventuality where they are forced to stay home for at least two weeks in case they get the Coronavirus.

As well as toilet paper, hand sanitizers and wipes are gone.  As if they never existed.  In addition, soups are disappearing along with other quick-fix meals.

With pretty much all major sporting events canceled, I have to wonder what folks will do at home.  Will they play games with each other?  Will they not venture out into the public?  Will tv ratings reach all-time highs?  We will find out in the coming weeks and possibly months.

While this pandemic is certainly a matter of grave concern, it can also be a time where we reconnect as families and count our blessings.  Yes, our 401ks are taking a bath like never before.  Yes, we could be unemployed or have to work from home.  Yes, we could lose income.  But this is a time that humanity has to come together and do the right thing.  We are trying to prevent a deadly disease from spreading.  From ravaging humanity, especially the elderly.

Some folks out there seem to STILL think this is no big deal.  The normal flu kills so many people each year but this one hasn’t.  First off, this is a new flu strain.  We don’t know what it will morph into.  The fatality rate is at least ten times higher, probably more.  So if it does stick around we could potentially be looking at fatality statistics anywhere from 500,000 to 5 million.  Each year.  That is no joke.

I will fully admit I made light of it until recently.  It was a bad flu I thought.  But when the numbers started growing it became a harsh reality.  The best way to fight this thing is to be prepared and use common sense.  Be safe, wash your hands, and hold onto your loved ones.

Will The Delaware DOE Cancel The Smarter Balanced Assessment This Year?

With rampant closings brought on by the ongoing Coronavirus saga it is imperative the Delaware Department of Education cancels the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Any longtime reader of this blog knows my thoughts on this worthless and flawed test.  But it is here and until our legislators agree to dump it the test will stay here.  But this year is different.

As schools in Delaware prepare to close beginning next week for a two week “disinfecting”, the Smarter Balanced Assessment officially began earlier this month.  The test is not given at the same time in every school district or charter school.  Some last until the end of April or early May.  While giving SBAC in Delaware is a federal requirement, the test should disappear this year.

What are your thoughts?  Should the Delaware DOE cancel the test?  If schools are closed it would be impossible to have kids do it from home as there must be an instructor watching the kids take the test.  A Pennsylvania legislator already introduced legislation to get rid of their state test this year.  Should Delaware follow suit?

Delaware School Board Candidates 2020!

So who is running for the Delaware school boards this year?  We have some incumbents and lots of new faces.  Some of these races are going to be riveting.  But it all means squat unless you actually get out and vote.  Do some homework on the candidates.  It’s your local taxes at play here so it is important.  And for many, it is your children in each district.  Go to the debates if they happen.  And vote!  Congrats to the solo filers.  You won without doing anything more than signing a piece of paper.  For the races, be fair, don’t get anyone to steal signs, and be honest.  Voting goes down on May 12th.  Be there or be square!

Appoquinimink 

At Large: Wayne Meadows, Michelle Wall 

Brandywine 

District B: Sydney Jones, Kristin Pidgeon 

District E: Karen P. Gordon 

Cape Henlopen 

At Large: William W. Collick 

Area B: Jason Bradley 

Caesar Rodney 

At Large: Joyce Denman 

Capital 

At Large: Anthony DePrima, Dennis S. Hallock Sr., Leandra Casson Marshall 

Christina 

District A: George E. Evans, Althea Smith-Tucker 

District D: Naveed Baqir, Claire O’Neal, John M. Young 

Colonial 

District B: M. Lucille Kennedy 

District D: Christopher Piecuch 

Delmar 

At Large: Raymond T. Vincent 

Indian River 

District 1 (Two seats available): Anthony Cannon, Leo Darmstadter III

District 2: Gerald T. Peden 

District 4: Gregory M. Goldman, Constance T. Pryor 

Lake Forest 

At Large: James L. Rau 

Laurel 

At Large: Barbara Erkline, D. Brent Nichols, Jana B. Pugh 

Milford 

At Large (2 seats available): Rony Baltazar-Lopez, Scott Wiley, Jean Wylie 

Red Clay 

District B: Sarah Fulton, Lillian Oliver, Martin Wilson 

District G: William Doolittle, Grace Otley, Catherine H. Thompson 

Seaford  

At Large (5 years): Jeffrey T. Benson 

At Large (2 years): Troy R. Purnell 

Smyrna 

At Large: Christine B. Malac 

Woodbridge 

At Large: Darrynn S. Harris, Julleanna B. Seeley 

 

The official filings and contact info can be found at the three county websites below. 

https://electionsncc.delaware.gov/PubSchool/candidates/2020_sch_cand.pdf 

https://electionskc.delaware.gov/school_districts/2020_SB_Cand_Filed.shtml 

https://electionssc.delaware.gov/2020%20SB%20Filings/2020%20School%20Board%20Member%20Filings.shtml 

 

 

I’ve seen a lot of bad ideas turn into bad decisions while I was on the Christina School Board…this one, proffered by Dr. Griffin and Dr. Powell is as mind boggling as it is dangerous. #netDE #eduDE

So, the Christina Board of Education wants the district citizens to pass their referendum but they surrender the district to the Delaware DOE for their period of “transition”. They have lost their minds!

Transparent Christina 2.0

Wow, complete submission to the DEDOE. Complete abdication of local control and elected responsibility. All those in support are engaging in malfeasance and dereliction of duty. This is a dangerous gambit which confesses the truth of their recent, allegedly smart, thoughtful decision to not renew senior staff.

They had no plan.

They have no plan.

Here’s the vote:

They have become what many have know for quite some time: a power hungry cabal who actions are destroying an entire system.

Mrs. Paige and Mr. Evans, thank you for not relinquishing that which we elected you to do: govern locally.

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A Profile in Courage: Elizabeth Paige shines a deftly placed light on the board and district’s inability and refusal to serve its students. #netDE #eduDE

I’ve known Liz since the very beginning of this blog. She is one of the true heroes for kids in Delaware education. Her service was always about the kids and not about the dysfunctional politicking that goes on with the Christina Board of Education and the district.

Transparent Christina 2.0

A mic drop if I ever read one, Elizabeth Paige shares her thoughts around why she could no longer serve in a dysfunctional matrix. One that I may remind everyone thinks you should vote to give them money while they don’t have a plan to serve your children on June 9th, 2020.

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Bumblin’ Stumblin’ Christina BOE is knowingly running up against open meetings laws… Again. Tonight.

Transparent Christina 2.0

Is Christina about to hold yet ANOTHER illegal meeting?

Item L3 is formed and instead incorrectly. here are 3 concerns:

It violates board policy 1.07 which requires 10 days notice for an action item

It declares an emergency (“cannot be deferred”) with no actual determination (board vote) of emergency. I see no way this could be classified up in code revolves around imminent harm to people or property, not what happens if a person isn’t censured.

It places an item that declares a pending vote in a discussion section which is not legal under Delaware open meetings law.

The board does not have censure authority under it’s own policy.

Dr. Griffin and Dr. Keeley sure know how to dance with illegal meetings lately….

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Odyssey Back Under Formal Review For Racist Comments From Board Members

Odyssey Charter School is back under the formal review knife by the Delaware Department of Education following Blue Delaware’s explosive article the other day about board members making racist comments during a recent board meeting.

The Delaware Department of Education released the following statement today:

In response to complaints received by the Delaware Department of Education regarding Odyssey Charter School’s governance, Secretary of Education Susan Bunting is placing the school on formal review. Formal review is an investigatory process that will allow the Charter School Accountability Committee to determine whether the school has violated terms of its charter and probationary conditions of its charter renewal, including Conditions 1A and 1B. Additionally, Bunting condemns the discriminatory statements regarding Academia Antonia Alonso Charter School allegedly made by board members in a recording of a board meeting publicly released.

The Delaware State Board of Education has to vote on Bunting’s recommendation, to the best of my knowledge, which I assume they will tackle at their next meeting this month.  I predict they will approve it given the shenanigans their governance has gone through in the past year.

To be fair, it is the AHEPA idiots on their board that are the problem at this school.  It isn’t the education students are getting.  It isn’t even the school leadership.  It is the bizarre almost cult-like behavior of the AHEPA section of their Board of Directors.  Here is the bottom line: the AHEPA nuts have to go, period!  Anyone, in this day and age, fully knowing the board meetings are being recorded as required by Delaware state code, who engages in vocal crap like this deserves to be kicked off the board.  What an idiot!

For those who read about this from The News Journal or Delaware Online yesterday, they were late on the story and appeared to get their lead on this from Blue Delaware.  Did they credit Blue Delaware?  Hell no!  They always leave bloggers out in the cold.  Such is the way of The News Journal!

Updated, 3:43pm:

Apparently the school has issued a statement to parents regarding the 2nd formal review the school has been placed on in less than a year:

Communication from Joe Wolcott Board President, Denise Parks Head of School and Riccardo Stoeckicht, Campus Operations Manager

2/7/2020

Dear, families, students, and staff of OCS,

Today Secretary of Education Susan Bunting notified the OCS Board that the Department of Education is placing the school on formal review. Formal review is an investigatory process that will allow the Charter School Accountability Committee to determine whether the school has violated terms of its charter and probationary conditions of its charter renewal.

This is a painful process for the entire OCS community and we deeply regret the circumstances that have led to this formal review. The Board is taking the essential first steps to address accountability, heighten inclusivity awareness and provide sensitivity training to better serve our diverse community. We will continue to keep you informed of new developments.

As we continue to move forward and embrace change our focus will always be on the success and well-being of our remarkable student body.

Joe, Denise, Riccardo

 

Glasgow High School & Christina School District In Big Trouble With Delaware DOE Who Fell Asleep At The Wheel And Let It All Happen

In the wake of the IEP scandal at Glasgow High School, ALL of Christina School District is at the mercy of the Delaware Department of Education when it comes to special education.  Following the events concerning fake IEP meetings at Glasgow High School that I published in October, the Delaware Department of Education was forced to act.  But questions linger about how and why the Delaware DOE was unable to find out before they did. Continue reading

And The Exceptional Delaware Hero Of The Year For 2019 is…

Who is the Hero of the Year for 2019?  It is… Continue reading

Merry Christmas From Exceptional Delaware!

christmas-gettyimages-184652817

Just wanted to write a quick post to my followers and readers to wish you a very Merry Christmas.  If you celebrate something else, enjoy that day as well!  Not sure what 2020 will bring in life and on this blog but I can only hope things change for the better.

Enjoy your family and friends and share the love with everyone you see.  This should be all year long but I will settle for the reason for the season.

Sorry I don’t have a crazy Christmas story this year.  I’ll try to double up next year!

 

 

Odyssey Audit Report Out! Lots Of “Can’t Explain” Financial Issues Going On!

The Delaware Auditor of Accounts office released the Odyssey Charter School Agreed-Upon Procedures report today.  The work was done independently by the Santora CPA Group.  The full report can be seen below.

The report shows a good deal of financial expenses that could not be explained by Odyssey Charter School.  The AHEPA gala, meant to raise funds for Odyssey, netted over $72,000 in cash donations.  The charter school only saw over $52,000 and AHEPA kept the rest.  Almost $10,000 in earmarked expenses had no justification or reason for what they were.  The Delaware Department of Education asked Odyssey to explain this as part of their formal review.  An AHEPA conference in July of 2018 had over $3,800 in unexplained expenses.

The report confirmed the Board President, Dmitri Dandalos, who was also the President of the local AHEPA , unilaterally decided on Chatham Bay continuing construction of the Ithaka Learning Center.  This was after a feasibility study determined it was not worth it to open up the early learning center.  This cost an additional $154,217.  The Board voted to pay this in executive session but it was noted in the report that the resolution to pass it in open session had no explanation of what they were paying.  But since Delaware charter schools do not get capital expenses and, therefore, no money from the Bond Bill, it doesn’t really matter in terms of the legality of it all.  Except it should.  Perhaps our legislators can fix that.  Even though it isn’t technically state money, it should still be accounted for.

Some of the expenses listed in the attachment section of the report can be easily explained.  One of the vendors of the school, The Schoolhouse 302, does professional development for the school.  My biggest question about that is why administrators from other school districts are doing a side company.  Those administrators are Joseph Jones, the Superintendent of New Castle County Vo-Tech, and T.J. Vari, a district administrator in Appoquinimink.  And if they are doing this professional development during school hours, why are they getting paid for that and their duties as administrators for their respective districts at the same time?  But I digress…

This report is riddled with expenses spent by Odyssey but did not agree with the amounts reported.  That is a very serious issue.  Last night I was viciously attacked by someone on Facebook for daring to write something bad about Odyssey.  No, I don’t think the school should be shut down.  I don’t have an issue with the education they provide their students.  From what I have heard, it is top-notch.  My issue is with the organizational end of the school.  How the board operates and how they spend taxpayer money is a big issue.  And it isn’t just Odyssey.  It is many charter schools AND districts in Delaware.  Odyssey just happens to be in the hot seat for this right now.  So is Christina School District on some levels.  My biggest problem is how there is no oversight over these things coming from the state.  Why does it take putting a school on formal review before the truth comes out?  Is there no one watching things at the granular level before it blows up?  Like I said, it’s not just charter schools.  It is districts too.  Both need to be watched very closely.  The charters get caught for it more but districts are doing shady crap too.  We all know it.  They know it.  It’s just a matter of time.

I am glad this report got out before the State Board of Education decided on the school’s charter renewal tomorrow night.  If I were the State Board, I would vote to keep Odyssey on probation until their actual renewal at the end of the school year! (special thanks to the friend who explained this could be a viable option!)

Explosive Public Comment For Odyssey’s Renewal, McGuiness Fails To Deliver

Public comment sent to the Charter School Office at the Delaware Department of Education indicates the AHEPA members of the Board of Directors over at Odyssey Charter School STILL haven’t learned the lesson that put them on formal review in the first place!

This prompted Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams to file Freedom of Information Act violations against the Board of Directors not once, but twice!

Sounds like AHEPA has some explaining to do!

Meanwhile, Delaware State Auditor Kathy McGuiness has failed to deliver the audit investigation into Odyssey Charter School.  They informed the school it was “anticipated” by December 15th.  It is now December 18th and the State Board of Education is making an important decision about this school in two days at their monthly meeting.  Once again, missing information.  But hey, let’s give McG a big break because I’m sure she is really busy socializing around Delaware for every opportunity she can get to let folks know she is Kathy McGuiness and some useless facts about the Auditor of Accounts office!

My prediction: further probation for Odyssey Charter School until all the facts come out on this stuff!

Administrative Bloodbath At Christina School District

As reported on Transparent Christina, the Christina School District Board of Education has voted not to renew four contracts in their district office.  While I am not at liberty to give names yet, these are four VERY big names.  The ripple effects of these non-renewals will affect the district in major ways.  I expect there could be some type of legal response to at least one of these non-renewals.  The names are out there and people are talking, but I will not be releasing those names “officially” until it is public.  Two of them I am very happy about.  They have been sources of controversy for years and have done more harm to the district than anyone else.  So with Superintendent Richard Gregg announcing his resignation as of June 2020, look for Christina to look very different in the 2020-2021 school year.

Christina Board President leads central office purge and stifles public opinion while hapless board just watches the district burn…

And it all falls apart…

Transparent Christina 2.0

Christina Board Meeting footage

Last night, the Christina School District Board held its monthly meeting.

It was a doozy. They accepted a long overdue resignation from their superintendent and then summarily fired four district employees via a contract non-renewal technique all while suffering through Board President Dr. Meredith Griffin’s repeated attempts to muzzle and the actual muzzling of taxpayers (aka his constituents) at a public mic at a public meeting WITHOUT board approval. (more on this in a future post)

He was primarily aided and abetted in the purge by board members Dr. Keeley Powell and Dr. Claire O’Neal mostly by their stark silence, who also happen to work together at the University of Delaware in the same department (UD College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment: here and here) and are the two shortest tenured board members. Dr. Griffin shared a vague sensability regarding cultural change being at the…

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Lazarus Mike Matthews Comes Out Of His Facebook Sabbatical With Big News!!!

Well over a year after former Delaware State Education Association President Mike Matthews resigned from his position, he announced last night he is seeking a seat on the Executive Board of DSEA.

Hello, friends. Hope you’re doing OK. Not going to take a lot of your time.

Just reaching out to all of my friends and Delaware educators on here to let you know I’ve just submitted my petition to DSEA to run for a seat on their Executive Board. New Castle County gets 16 seats and 8 of those seats are up this year.

As a former state and local leader, I want to continue to be an advocate for educators and students in Dover. Times remain turbulent in education today and we need assertive voices in the mix to make sure our concerns are front and center with both our state union leadership and elected officials in Dover.

The election will be in January. You should receive your ballot by email. If you’re a DSEA member, I would love having your vote and I would love it if you would consider sharing this message to let your friends know I’m running.

This is not a statewide election. Only members who work in New Castle County will be able to vote in my election. I would be humbled to earn your vote.

Thank you all for your continued love and support over the last year. It has gotten me through a really tough time, but I like to think I’m back and my engine is fired up again.

In Solidarity,

Mike

I wish I could say I was shocked but I’m not.  Matthews is not one to stay quiet for too long.  I couldn’t believe he managed to stay off Facebook for seven months.  But the Red Clay teacher isn’t quite done with his union work.  Will Matthews get back into DSEA?  Could this be a sign of Matthews seeking the Presidential seat again at some point?  Time will tell!

2019 September 30th Numbers Show Special Education Is Up But Another Key Demographic Is Decreasing

The Delaware Department of Education released the 2019 September 30th Unit Count report earlier this month.  Special education numbers are rising each year.  This is now the 6th year I’ve written about this report.  This covers everything: special education, demographics of each district and charter school, and enrollment trends in Delaware’s public education.  One of the demographics in Delaware public schools is actually decreasing which came off as shocking to myself. Continue reading