Facts About Special Education at The Charter School of Wilmington (CSW)

Here are some well known facts about The Charter School of Wilmington, some taken from their very own website!

The founding companies behind CSW are DuPont, Ashland (Hercules), AstraZeneca, Christiana Care, Delmarva Power, and Verizon.

CSW has a whopping .6% of their student population with special education.

CSW was named a 2013 National Blue Ribbon School by the US Department of Education.

This Wilmington, Delaware school had an African-American population of 5.5% for the 2013-2014 academic year.

CSW was ranked #62 on Newsweek’s 2013 list of best schools in America.

For their monthly Board of Directors minutes, nothing has been put on their website since 3/25/14.

They haven’t updated their finances since 3/25/14 either….

For their federal aid, it doesn’t break it down into subgroups on that financial statement, so there is no way to find out how much they get from the federal government for IDEA-B funding, which is the funding schools get based on their number of IEPs.  But wait, I’ll look at their 2013 Audit.  Maybe that will give me some more information!  Nope, just shows the amount of federal funding left over after the 2012-2013 school year to be $45, 174.00.  So how much does Charter School of Wilmington get for their Federal IDEA-B funding?  Someone had to have paid for those 6 special ed students from the 2013-2014 school year.  6 out of 970….

Before the charter school lovers go nuts, yes, I know, this is a STEM school.  One of the best in the country.  I guess special ed kids aren’t good at math or science?

Let’s take a look at their application process.  Maybe there is a good reason why special ed kids don’t make it into this prestigious school.  I would talk to their admissions panel, but as per the CSW website that information is CONFIDENTIAL.  So how do you get in?  As an 8th grader, you have to take a placement test in December or January.  That sounds fair.  I guess only the best get in.  Wait a minute, nobody would know that, because their INTEREST RUBRIC SCORES for the tests, which include test scores, an essay, and a recommendation form, are CONFIDENTIAL too.  And their admission scoring is proprietary.  And if you wanted to find out what your child scored on the test, apparently that scoring won’t be shared by anyone in phone or in person.  Well I should just stop looking at the frequently asked questions tab and go straight to the admissions policy.

Top priority goes to students who express a specific interest in going to CSW.  This is measured on a point scale.  198 points is calculated based on their placement test, which covers math and reading.  The applicants report card grades for 7th and 8th grade carry a weight of up to 120 points.  Another maximum of 65 points can be awarded to a student who excels in teacher recommendations, enrollment in honors classes for Math or Science, extracurricular activities in Math or Science, and an essay the applicant gets to write.  If you get 325 points, you meet the requirements for the specific interest.  Great!

Now if you get less than 325 points, don’t lose hope!  Cause you can request an interview with the school.  You could have an “otherwise compelling eligibility” and the President of the School can consider ANY additional information about you to make a decision!  You also have to reside in the Red Clay School District.  And you can get extra consideration if you have a brother or sister that goes there, or one of your parents works there!

Well, let me take a look at the actual application and see what it says on there.  Oh wait, I missed the boat!  The 2014-2015 application closed on January 8th of this year.  Oh well.  Maybe I can google it.  Awesome, the Delaware DOE website has it!  But it’s from 1996….but I can check that out.  Dammit!  That’s their application to become a charter school.  I can’t find it anywhere online.  Does anyone know if it asks if the student has an IEP or special education?

With their preferred interest test, does anyone know if they accommodate students who do have an IEP when they take the test?  Hmm….  Sorry folks, I tried to get more information on special education at Charter School of Wilmington, but it appears my well has run dry.  But I won’t give up!


Published by

Kevin Ohlandt

I am a proud parent of a son with Tourette's Syndrome and several other co-morbidities. I write on this blog to educate other parents so they know a bit more about not only special education, but all the really bad things that are happening with public schools in Delaware and the USA. We are all in this together, and if our children aren't able to advocate for themselves it's up to us parents! We need to stop letting companies run our schools, and demand our children get a proper education. Our Departments of Education in our states have become weak with fear from the bullying US DOE, and we need to take back our schools!

5 thoughts on “Facts About Special Education at The Charter School of Wilmington (CSW)”

  1. As the parent of not one but two children who just graduated from CSW with IEPs, I can answer several of your questions.

    1. Yes, accommodations have and continue to be made for children with IEPs and 504s to take the placement test. My son received multiple accommodations in 2009 (or maybe it was early 2010, I forget) to take it. They haven’t ever done modifications, but I don’t know that they’ve ever been asked to do so. The admissions committee that looked at his scores was not advised that he had been granted accommodations; nor were they made aware prior to accepting him that he was on a 504. As far as I know there is no question on the application requiring parents to reveal special needs.

    2. Four years ago CSW had little or no experience with students requiring a 504 or IEP. Our first two years there for my son were, to say the least, difficult. He was, I believe, the second child to come into the school with a 504, and the first whose 504 was converted to an IEP at the beginning of his sophomore year. I believe he was the first child ever (by two weeks!) to have an IEP at CSW.

    3. Since that time, CSW has made great strides in dealing with the small number of children there with special needs. My son received accommodations AND modifications; extended school year services; some courses delivered on purely homebound status; special transportation; and tutors in every subject (paid for by the school). My daughter acquired an IEP by virtue of post-concussion syndrome playing sports (three concussions in one year, don’t ask), and was literally allowed to re-start her calculus course in mid-year with one-on-one tutoring that continued all the way through the summer until she completed the course in August. Both of my children were formally excused from attendance requirements via IEP, and my son was exempted from the PE credit. CSW helped my son acquire accommodations from ETS for both his SAT and AP tests, which is no simple task.

    4. CSW has recently acquired a new ED (shared with Cab Calloway) and uses the RCCSD District Psychologist to help prepare and supervise 504s and IEPs. Most reported stats (like your .6% special needs population cited above) do not include 504s. This year, as far as I know, there were seven or eight IEPs there and an equal number of 504s. Some of the IEPs do not record in the state data because they resulted (like my daughter) from injuries or conditions that occurred after the September 30 unit count.

    5. There is a growing awareness at CSW, thanks to the success of the first several students with IEPs and 504s at mastering the curriculum and going on to college (with scholarships), that access needs to be expanded. There are, as in other schools, teachers who are quite horrible with special needs students, teachers who are about average, and some who are downright wonderful.

    But the bottom line is that in terms of special needs children, low SES children, and African-American children CSW needs a major paradigm shift. After four years there I can say that there has been dramatic improvement, but we are nowhere near the tipping point.

    Nonetheless, it is important to be factual about what is happening there and has happened there.


    1. Thanks for that information. It’s hard to come by unless the school or a parent provides it. I’m glad they are making headway with their special ed program. Hopefully I will see their numbers increase over the years.

      I just can’t help but think CSW has missed out on a lot of students with special needs over the years. They have been around since the 1990s and IDEA and IEPs was out in full force in 2004-2005. I believe there should be more special ed students at a lot of Delaware’s schools.

      It looks like a great school, I just want all dynamics of society in a position of success there.


  2. While I believe there is a case to be made that children with special needs are under-represented at many charters and suburban traditional schools, if you focus on that within Delaware you may well miss a larger picture of game-playing that has been going on for many years.

    The Kent Vo-Tech School District had a shell game going on with special needs students (keeping them around to harvest the Federal funds and then not providing the services necessary for them to meet graduation requirements) that goes back into the mid-1990s. Whether it has been cleared up since around 2000, when it was still occurring is a question for which I do not have an answer.

    Likewise, another mid-state district (which shall remain nameless but is in fact named after a famous Delaware Founding Father who took an important ride) has traditionally played massive games with special services acceptance and services provision for many, many years. The games this district plays are complicated, master-level games, but again they revolve around being able to harvest Federal IDEA funds without actually doing anything to benefit the students who qualify for them.

    Worse still is the incredible lack of knowledge or will at DE DOE, where pretty much the only types of special needs they recognize and have any real plan to deal with are autism, ADHD, and specific subject-area learning disabilities. They know nothing about “other health impaired,” and often enable the schools that do have higher proportions of special needs students in avoiding their responsibilities.

    That’s part of the danger, I think, in your approach to these statistics. Would you rather see a school that has roughly the right state average of special needs students in attendance, or would you rather evaluate schools on how well they do in meeting the needs of the students they do identify. I’ve represented dozens of parents in DE at IEP/504 meetings, and dozens upon dozens more outside the state, and I am firmly convinced that these percentages are meaningless without knowing what the schools actually do to meet the needs of those students.


    1. I would love to know what the schools actually do, but I don’t think any of them would be forthcoming about what a bad job some of them might do. My “grades” are solely based on the DOE #s showing the special ed population. To many parents, even getting an IEP is a huge battle, so to actually have one in Delaware is a big thing. But I think these numbers do serve a purpose in showing what schools I would never send my child to. Some of these numbers are astronomically how compared to the “good” schools that are well above the state average. I’m sure there are some schools that may give out IEPs like they are candy. I welcome any parent who wants to tell me about how good or bad their special needs child’s experience with an IEP, 504 or denial of either. I’ve heard a lot of horror stories, but I do want to hear the great stuff as well. What does make me cringe though is hearing about any teacher being “not good” at special education. Like it or not, full inclusion is a fact of life in Delaware schools, so you need to be just as good at special ed as you are in teaching a classroom of diversified kids.

      I am also hearing disturbing stories about some schools in Kent County and their out-of-classroom discipline scenarios. And I will be investigating those types of situations big time!


  3. You may want to attend the next meeting of the Enrollment Preferences Task Force, which is grappling with exactly those kinds of admission questions. The next meeting is June 23 at 6:30pm at Buena Vista.


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