Special Education Statistics Part III: Kent County Publics vs Charters #netde #eduDE @delaware_gov

Delaware Special Education

Kent County is a unique place.  It is considered part of “slower lower”, but the capital of the state is in Dover.  All the major decisions about the state occur here, even though the majority of the population lives in Newcastle County.  The schools in Kent County are also unique.

Seven school districts are in Kent County.  Capital, Caesar Rodney, Lake Forest, and Polytech are all within the borders of Kent County.  Smyrna overlaps into Newcastle County, while Woodbridge and Milford share district space with both Kent and Sussex .  There are only four charter schools in Kent County: Academy of Dover, Campus Community, Providence Creek and Positive Outcomes.  Of the four charters, their special education population is as follows:

Academy of Dover: 8.4% (26 out of 308)

Campus Community School: 9% (37 out of 411)

Providence Creek Academy: 4.4% (31 out of 697)

Positive Outcomes: 63.3% (76 out of 120)

Positive Outcomes is the exception to the rule when it comes to special education in Delaware.  The school primarily serves students with special needs and behavior issues, so it is no surprise they would fully accommodate in those situations.  The other three…that’s different.  Both Academy of Dover and Campus Community have a high percentage of lower income and African-American students, so in that aspect, it doesn’t appear charter school enrollment preference affects income or race.  But with a state average of 13.5-13.9% for special education, those numbers are much lower than their public school peers.  So where are all the special needs children going?  Certainly not Polytech, a vocational high school (the only school in that district).  Their average is 9.3% (112 out of 1,206).  So this would leave the public schools to deal with this student population.

Caesar Rodney: 13.6% (1,046 out of 7,677)

Capital: 17% (997 out of 6,442)

Lake Forest: 13% (479 out of 3,687)

Milford: 12.3% (507 out of 4,168)

Smyrna: 13.5% (697 out of 5,163)

I’m not going to include Woodbridge since most of the school district is within Sussex County.

So we can definitely see the public schools are taking in much higher populations of special needs children than the charter schools in the area.  Why is this?  Pretty much the same answer as the rest of the charters in the state.  They don’t want them.  This is why they put sections on their applications  with questions like “Does your child have an IEP” or “Does your child have any special education needs”.  They want to weed them out.  Not including Positive Outcomes obviously, the other three charter schools have a total of  7 complex special education students, and they are all at Academy of Dover.  Both Campus Community and Providence Creek Academy have NONE.  I guess autistic children aren’t welcome there.  What does FAPE stand for again?

Smyrna School District seems to take the bulk of special needs children in the area.  The majority of students that go to Providence Creek reside in Smyrna, and then Capital.  Since Providence Creek can only accommodate 26 special needs students, but the other 671 are “normal”, that must be an acceptable sacrifice for them.  But hey, they should feel lucky.  Their special education population actually went down from 4.7% in 2013 to 4.4% in 2014.  Less burden for them.

Further south in Kent County are the  Caesar Rodney, Milford and Lake Forest districts.  Some children from there go to the charters in Kent County, but the further south you go the less likely this is.  Their special education numbers seem to be near the state average.

Capital School District’s special education numbers are much higher than everyone else.  They also have the Kent County Community School, which serves the Delaware Autistic Program (DAP) for autistic students in grades K-12.

No new charter schools have opened in Kent County in many, many years, and that’s probably a good thing.  I wouldn’t mind at all if Positive Outcomes opened a K-6 school.  Maybe they can take over one of the other schools.  In the meantime, parents of Kent County, I would be very wary about sending any special needs child to a charter school in Dover, unless it is Positive Outcomes.  I have heard from parents who let one or two of their kids stay at a charter school but they send their special needs child to a public school.  This must be a huge pain in the ass for these families.  The charter school should be more than capable of handling a special needs child.  The big lingering question is this- why aren’t they?




4 thoughts on “Special Education Statistics Part III: Kent County Publics vs Charters #netde #eduDE @delaware_gov

  1. I believe you mentioned in a previous post, that the special ed levels should be higher than are listed, because often IEP’s are denied, and the number of denials is not required to be reported?

    Which means the state’s number of children with disabilities may be higher than the number reported….

    However, just in case someone goes there, I’m not sure if charter schools should be forced to accept the same percentage of IEP’s as the surrounding area schools.. For one, charter schools spend less on each pupil then do public schools (with most of the money going into private pockets as profits, instead of being reinvested into bettering the lives of children_… I would think any advocate for education would be against all charters, or at least, be against using per-pupil funding to support them…. If you want charters as your own pet project, then put them in as a line item in the General Assembly’s budget….


    1. They have to follow the law: state AND federal. IDEA states students with disabilities MUST be granted an IEP if their disability interferes with their educational outcome. Far too many charters in this state will not adhere to that law. Unfortunately, they aren’t going anywhere any time soon, so while they are here, they need to identify, evaluate, and accommodate.

      The only exceptions are Gateway and Positive Outcomes.

      Parents send their kids to charters for different reasons, but for those starting out in Kindergarten or 1st grade, the manifestation of those disabilities may not be there yet. Most non-autistic kids develop these traits anywhere from 1st-4th grade. The charters don’t want to treat them as neurologically based conditions, but as behavior issues. It becomes a nightmare of epic proportions for the student and the family. This is why the charters are getting sued left and right.

      And let’s not forget enrollment preference. They are famous for that!


  2. The funding for special needs students can be transferred to Charter Schools, that’s not an issue. Part of the issue is labeling, and dumping, problem student becomes special ed so someone else can deal with them. Charters work both ways, in the District of Columbia the student population is rapidly changing from lower income African – American to Upper Middle Class Caucasian and Asian so the “Privileged” parents brought in Michelle Rhee who ransacked the Public Schools and went overboard with Charters.The “right” thing to do was to open Charters for the Hispanic and African American students so they would have a “chance” and to close the decrepit Public Schools they left.
    There was then a scream for funding increases and massive physical improvements to the public schools that remained because a lack of funding was the basic cause of all the evil.
    As it is now several totally refurbished elementary schools in Wealthy North West Washington are 75% Caucasian while the former African American students are bused across the city to Charters and once you left for Charter School you must remain there or go to another Charter School because there is not space left at the public school they talked you out of attending. Do the research, and this happened within minutes of the White House.
    Obama and his Education Secretary – Arne.


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