Christina and Red Clay Reject MOU Deadline, My Public Comment at Christina, DOE Board Members Leave In Disgust @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @dwablog @nannyfat @delawareonline @TheStateNews @DoverPost @CapeGazette @WBOC #netde #eduDE

Delaware Priority Schools Takeover

Tonight at the Christina Board meeting in Wilmington, the board unanimously voted to essentially ignore the MOU.  Instead, they have decided to look at board member John Young’s resolution to craft an MOU that would involve all stakeholders involved.  Meanwhile, Red Clay wrote up their own MOU which would require no outside agencies or companies to take over the priority schools and to eliminate the caveat that a new school leader would be paid $160,000.00 and would instead be paid at the district level.

Parents, teachers, and legislators filled a packed house tonight at the Christina board meeting.  The board quickly waived the 3 minute limit for public comment.  Legislators such as Senator Brian Townsend and State Representative John Kowalko voiced their opposition to the MOU as it is currently written.  Several teachers commented as well.  Jackie Kook, a teacher in the district, kept referring to the Delaware DOE’s usage of the words “Human Capital” when referring to teachers in the priority schools and how degrading was.

The bulk of the audience did not support the MOU.  Some community leaders spoke in support of the MOU, even suggesting the priority schools have corporate sponsors to help lift them out of the DOE designated “failing” status.  Two members of the Delaware DOE Board Of Education made public comment, Dr. Terry Gray and Gregory Coverdale.  Both used other schools in Delaware as example of what they can do for the low income schools such as Booker T. Washington Elementary School and Positive Outcomes Charter School in Kent County.  Comparing those two schools to the six priority schools is night and day in many respects.

I gave public comment, which is below.  Driving up from Dover during rush hour was well worth it.  All board meetings need to be this exciting!

My name is Kevin Ohlandt.   Thank you for letting me speak tonight.  I’m here to talk about the special education issue in the priority schools. I live in Dover, but the issues here are just as important as they are in Capital School District. What happens with these priority schools will affect every single public school district in the state. If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere in the state.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment is coming, and Secretary of Education Mark Murphy has ALREADY indicated he expects 70% of students to fail the test. But if this is what we base proficiency on, and the test has already been determined to be a failure (not the students), how can we blame the schools, teachers and students for this? If a test is that bad, how can the fate of our public school system rest on bad judgement thrust upon us by a Governor who listens to the will of Rodel more than his own citizens?

As you are well aware, there are over 300 students with disabilities with active IEPs in the priority schools. First of all, the formula designated for the priority schools is based on data that is over three years old. It is designed to specifically target these six schools that are all within a mile of a charter school building in Rodney Square. I don’t think this was an accident. In point of fact, I believe this is something Governor Markell and the DE Department of Education want to happen. Are we really going to send these children back to the hell some of them already escaped from? Sure, the charters will say they “just didn’t fit” or “we weren’t able to offer them services”, but the DOE has allowed this to happen. The DOE Board, not publicly elected, sit there in Dover and praise the charters without ever addressing the true problems. The charters specified enrollment preference caters to the charters needs and not the will of the public. So if you take all these children with disabilities, and reject them because they don’t “fit your mold”, and deny them entry or counsel them out, the result is why we are here tonight. This is triple segregation: they have disabilities, they are low income, and they are minorities. Let those words pause in the air for a moment. Triple segregation.

But what will happen with these children who have disabilities they neither asked for nor want? Will their IEPs be adjusted for the upcoming changes? Has anyone in the DOE mentioned this in the MOU or the Turnaround Guide? What IS happening is the DOE seems to be circumventing federal law with IDEA code. This is something the US Department of Education is already being investigated on by members of the Education Committee in the US Senate.

Say Christina and Red Clay agree to the MOU.  The DOE has already indicated increased school hours and additional tutoring for the students of these schools. Has this been covered in these students IEPs? I don’t think so.  Does state law trump federal law? I don’t think so. Say the districts don’t agree to the MOU. When will the great takeover begin? Any parent of a special needs child needs to understand how dangerous this situation is for special needs students and special education teachers. It’s bad enough the DOE wants to insert Common Core into IEPs in their Standards-Based IEP agenda. But now they want to completely change the most important parts of IEPs where choice is taken away from parents, and things like Least Restricted Environment and Free Appropriate Public Education are turned into a joke under Mark Murphy’s reign in Dover.

The DOE has already put their chess pieces on the board. They hired a charter school transplant from California to add to the madness in Dover. Mrs. Schwinn, in the August Delaware Board of Education meeting, when asked about crime and murder in Wilmington affecting the classroom by Mr. Coverdale, said “That’s not necessarily a hurdle to overcome.” Really, in this city?

This needs to end, and it starts here, tonight. This board, along with Red Clay, can stop the madness coming from Dover. We can stop this state and federal intrusion on our public school districts. They want to dismantle the freedom we have and turn our children into common core zombies, without any regard for their individual minds. We will not stand for this. From the top of the state to the bottom, every single student in a public school district is threatened by the likes of the Delaware DOE, Mark Murphy, Governor Markell, Rodel, Arne Duncan, Vision whatever the damn year is, and yes, the Delaware Charter School Network. Follow the money and see where it goes, cause it is not going to the children of Delaware. It is going to data coaches, and companies that are making great profit at the expense of the children of Delaware. Earlier, a gentleman spoke of corporate entities sponsoring our most needed schools. This is wrong, and we’ve already seen what happens when corporations get involved in schools. Common Core, RTI, Smarter Balanced Assessment. And the list goes on and on. My suggestion is simple: How about we stop teaching to the test and judge our schools, teachers and students on actual grades based on summative and formative assessments in the classroom, and stop this insanity.

It was a good night to be a citizen of Delaware and see the people decide their own fate.  This decision will have ramifications, but they already know what will happen.  As John Young also said during the meeting, it’s a game of chess with the DOE, and the next move is up to them.  But what will the districts next move be?  A source outside of the DOE has informed me the DOE has already rejected Red Clay’s revised MOU.  Tomorrow may be a very interesting day.

Delaware RTTT spending 100K and up by vendor…WOW.


Thanks to the individual who obtained this information and to John Young for posting it. That’s a lot of money going to a certain group of companies. And what do we have to show for it? Standardized test scores that have remained stagnant for the past few years, and a new test coming out that our Secretary of Education in Delaware expects will have a failure rate of 70%. The Race To The Top is obviously a colossal failure and everyone knows it. But nobody is listening at the DOE. How do we make them listen? It’s coming…

It was 10 years ago today when we were introduced to LOST

Non-Special Needs But Still Awesome!

I can’t believe it’s been ten years since my favorite show of all time first premiered. I remember it vividly, cause it was my wife’s birthday, and no husband can ever forget that day. Unless you want to get banished to an island for real! It all started with the Party of Five guy waking up in a field of bamboo. And a dog named Vincent. Almost six years later, it ended with the same thing. But the journey was amazing, and kept me glued to the TV every time it was on. As well as the internet, going to forums trying to figure out what the hell was going on with The Island, The Others and The Dharma Initiative.

LOST changed television as we know it. Once LOST premiered to amazing ratings, everyone and their mother was pitching new and different stuff to the networks. This has nothing to do with special education, but in a way it does. It was about a group of people trying to get along, and to make things work in a situation where there was very little hope. They became a family, and we laughed and cried as they went from one adventure to another. We all hated and loved Benjamin Linus at the same time. I still miss LOST, but it did have to end. Plus, there wouldn’t have been any characters left at the rate they were going. Who wants to watch a show about a dog on an island?

Less Than 36 Hours Parents of the Special Needs Kids at the Priority Schools, Request an IEP Meeting!!! @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @dwablog @nannyfat #netde #eduDE


At midnight tomorrow, the MOUs for the priority schools will be decided on. Chances are the DOE won’t like the answers from the districts. Or maybe they will. Depends on your perspective. But special needs parents, you have to request an IEP meeting by 11:59pm, September 30th, tomorrow! Your child’s future may depend on it. I know this sounds dramatic, but there is a reason for this which I will share on October 1st. Besides, there will be so many changes at these schools either way, you will want to make sure your child’s IEP reflects these changes.

Whatever happens, there will be huge ramifications for all involved. Whoever does sign the MOU will find they may regret it later in terms of saving face. Make a difference! Let your voice be heard. It’s not too late!!!!!

Recording of the biggest LIAR in the state of Delaware RE: Sec of Ed Mark Murphy @Washingtonpost @huffingtonpost #edude #netde #neatoday @NSBAComm @NatlGovsAssoc @usedgov @arneduncan @educationOIG @destateboarded @NRP @degop @greg_lavelle


If you had any doubt about Secretary of Education Mark Murphy, this is something you need to listen to. The man is so full of himself, it must take an enormous amount of effort for him to let anyone else in the room. This recording shows what a liar he is.

A Portrait Of How Evil Runs Our Inner City Charter Schools


Parents of the special needs children in the Delaware priority schools, the clock is ticking. 48 hours. Request an IEP meeting for your child.


Inner City charter schools have a very clear philosophy about what they’re trying to do, how they’re trying to do it, what they think is necessary, who they read, who their leaders are. And they’re explicit in describing it. The combination of the uniformity across all inner city schools and their explicitness about what they’re doing and why they’re doing it makes it easier to get hold of this movement than it is with say, public schools in a city or a school district where there’s so much variety and there isn’t a single philosophy.

Here is what goes on inside inner city charter schools.  This is what KIPP does when it takes over the six Wilmington schools. From their own handbooks, here is what to expect…..

These schools start with one belief: that there’s no reason for the large academic gaps that exist between poor minority students and more privileged children. They…

View original post 1,186 more words

Parents of Special Needs Children in ALL 6 Priority Schools Need To Request An IEP Meeting In The Next 72 Hours @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @dwablog @DelawareBats @nannyfat @delaware online #netde #eduDE #

Delaware Priority Schools Takeover

In approximately 72 hours, both Red Clay Consolidated and Christina school districts will have decided on Governor Jack Markell and Secretary of Education Mark Murphy’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the six priority schools in Delaware. Both boards are meeting on Tuesday, September 30th to officially decide. Some are saying Christina will not sign the MOU, and some are saying Red Clay Consolidated will write their own MOU.

My big question all along in this is why September 30th? Is it because that is the last day for schools in Delaware to submit their student counts? Will the DOE actually try to implement something immediately and count the numbers of these students in a new school? Would that even be legal? This may seem like a very crazy scenario, but look how crazy this whole thing has been to begin with.

Parents up in Wilmington may think this is a good thing, but it is not. If you are a parent of a special needs child already in attendance at one of the priority schools, you need to be VERY concerned. History has been filled with examples of mass segregation of persons with disabilities. And this will happen here. There is no way they are going to offer inclusion to 338 children with special needs at six or more different charter schools in Wilmington. They will herd these children together, “for their benefit, to give them a quality education” and parents will think it’s a great thing.

So here is what you need to do, parents of these 338 special needs children: On Monday, you need to request an IEP meeting. With the children’s current IEP team. Tell the schools you would like this as soon as possible. If these schools radically change overnight, and they start offering mandatory after school “extra help” and “tutoring”, this needs to be reflected in you child’s IEP. If the school changes ANY staff from members that aren’t already on your IEP meeting notice, they need to advise you in writing why this is. If they are unwilling to comply, let me know. My email address is if you want to send me any information.

72 hours. You have 72 hours to protest this and use your voice. Don’t waste the time that has been given to you parents of the priority schools.

Is Delaware PTA finally shaking-off the Markell Kool-aid re: Opt-out test / assessment?


Delaware PTA: You either stand on one side of the fence or the other. You can’t straddle in the middle. Pick a side and be done with it.

Why Delaware Parents May Be Furious and Freak Out On Schools In The Next Week @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de #netde #eduDE

Common Core

It’s the middle of the first marking period, and parents should be getting interim reports from schools. Parents open it up, and some may be hoping for the best. “Johnny has always been a good student. They open up the envelope, read the information, and find themselves wondering why Johnny is now below basic in reading and math. He never was before. Welcome to the wonderful world of common core. Students taking the SRI (Scholastic Reading Inventory) and SMI (Scholastic Math Inventory) are being scored based on the Common Core Standards now. Last year, when Johnny scored a 650 in math, and he was considered proficient, he is now below basic in certain grades.

But don’t worry. The schools will get them where they need to be. It doesn’t matter if the ratings went up 200 points from one year to the next. Scholastic, who owns the SRI and SMI testing, has company-owned guidance programs to get the students scores back up. We’ve scored your child, now were going to fix them. They will be ready for that big test they take next spring. Our company-owned programs will make sure!

It’s called fraud parents. Schools are selling this crap to you all over the country. And you are swallowing this bitter pill so our children can be college-ready. It doesn’t matter if they are in 3rd grade, they will have your child college-ready by the time they are 10! We can’t have anyone taking any remedial classes in college. So before your children have any clue about what they want to do for the rest of their life in 1st grade, they will still make sure they are on the correct path.

This message has been sponsored by education “reformers”. We are laughing all the way to the bank. We would like to thank all those in Delaware who have made this possible: Rodel, Governor Jack Markell, Vision 2012, Vision 2015, Vision 2025, Secretary of Education Mark Murphy, the Delaware Board of Education, the Delaware DOE, the Delaware Legislature and all those schools who are changing schedules and splitting up classes so they can use our programs to fix your child so he doesn’t have to compete with those kids from Singapore. We know, the rigor there is so high their suicide rate for students has skyrocketed. But it’s okay, we will bounce back. That could never happen in America. We would never pressure students that much.

Wilmington City Council Member Darius Brown Invites Many To Discuss Priority Schools, But Not The Districts They Reside In, Not Cool @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de #netde #eduDE

Delaware Priority Schools Takeover


Now why would Wilmington City Council Member Darius Brown neglect to invite the Red Clay Consolidated and Christina school districts to this “Wilmington’s Struggling Schools” meeting?  But of course the DOE, who is getting hammered left and right over this state takeover will be on hand to pass out their propaganda.  Why would they invite Rodel and the Delaware Charter School Network?  What are the “plans to improve our schools”?  Let me guess, someone will say “Why don’t we make them charter schools”, and Governor Markell or Secretary of Education Murphy will say “Hmm, that’s a good idea.”  Twitter tags can say A LOT folks, so who is the Wilmington City Council in bed with?


Charter Schools Under The Microscope in Delaware…Again! @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de #netde #eduDE

Delaware Charter Schools

Due to academic performance frameworks, special education issues, application enrollment preference controversies, and another failing charter school in Delaware, charter schools in Delaware are being looked at in a negative light in Delaware.

According to Kilroy’s Delaware, a mandatory request was put out to all Delaware charter schools to meet with the Delaware Department of Education. As per Kilroy, the United States Department of Education is not very happy with the Delaware DOE’s method of evaluating charter schools through their academic performance framework. This has played in the charter schools favor in annual performance calculations. Because charters are stand-alone districts, many of their subgroups do not count in proficiency models due to a low number in some of the subgroups. As a result, this makes the charters look better in certain circumstances.

As well, the Office of Civil Rights has been investigating Delaware charter schools for quite a long time now. All Delaware charter schools were told by the OCR to let them see applications for two years. Anyone can look at the school profiles section on the DOE website and see clearly where certain charters are either very low in special education students or minorities. These allegations have been made against the Delaware charters as well as ones around the USA for many years now.

I am hearing from many parents in Delaware how the month of September has been the worst ever at some Delaware charters for special education. Either IEP requests are flat-out being denied, or evaluations are not being done, or already-existent IEP accommodations aren’t even happening. Students are being treated as behavior issues and not as a student with disabilities. And yet the IEP task force has had two meetings and no one on the task force is even bringing this up. Everyone knows it happens, but no one wants to hold them accountable. I guess the charters are “too big to fail”. But we have yet another charter school that has done just that. Moyer’s second chance has resulted in a failure more disgusting then that of Pencader, the charter that was closed by the state last year. Moyer had one part-time special education worker in the school.

The state legislature and the DOE have made small inroads to fixing these issues, but nothing to hold them accountable for their biggest problems. And reform bills like House Bill 165 passed in 2013, has resulted in brand-new charters, open only for the 2014-2015 school year being given bonus money under a performance fund. Yes, you read that right.

Parents are slowly opening their eyes to the fact that the great charter experiment is not as grand as they thought. Schools that six months ago had no slots open or only a couple spots left in a few different grade levels, are now accepting applications for all grade levels. Brand new charters that haven’t even opened yet have gone under review for not being able to fill the minimum enrollment numbers. But the DOE and Governor Markell, in their most brilliant idea yet (please note the sarcasm here), have designated six public school district elementary schools as failing based on standardized test scores and have labeled them as “priority schools”. Everyone knows they will probably become charter schools eventually. What most don’t realize,  as  Kavips pointed out here: are all within a mile of a building designed to hold multiple charter schools. Maybe this can explain the look of glee on Delaware Secretary Of Education Mark Murphy’s face during the priority schools announcement on September 4th. And there was also a Delaware state senator who could not stop smiling during this announcement. It’s all on Delawareonline. Yes, these are appropriate facial gestures when your boss is announcing what amounts to state takeovers of the schools with the most dire low-income students in the state. Unless it will benefit them somehow…

DOE gets its ducks in a row, all off the radar, with almost no support. Check out the comments to the amendments that got approved…


And the web keeps getting bigger and bigger…

Delaware Having IEP Blitz to make September 30th Numbers @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @dwablog @nannyfat @delawareonline @TheStateNews @Cape Gazette @WBOC #netde #eduDE

IEP Meetings

September. The first month of fall, football comes back, and schools begin again around the country. But in Delaware, a crazy thing is occurring across the entire state. Public schools are cramming IEP meetings in so they can get their numbers in by what’s known as the “September 30th count”. By Delaware state law, all schools in the state that receive state and federal funding must have their enrollment numbers in by the 30th of September. This becomes especially crazy for special education in the state.

Due to transfers from other schools and annual reviews, as well as new requests, September has become very busy at our schools with IEP meetings. Some feel it is too much. Last night at the IEP Task Force, a speech and language pathologist advised the task force she has had 26 IEP meetings this month, and three more by this Friday. Some school districts are shortening IEP meetings and rescheduling them due to the overwhelming number of meetings. This has an impact on everyone involved: parents, teachers, special education teachers, service providers, school nurses, school psychologists, and the most important- the students with the disabilities.

One district in the state upwards of five or more IEP meetings in a day. With an average school time of 6 1/2 hours, and having approximately 1/2 an hour for lunch, this leaves IEP meetings at an hour and twenty minutes. While some meetings can take less time if there are no major changes, this is hardly the case in many situations. IEP meetings should never feel rushed. This is very intimidating to a parent.

This was a major sticking point at the IEP Task Force last night. Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn asked if this was a federal requirement, to which Mary Ann Mieczkowski advised this is a state thing.  She indicated the full IEP must be completed to determine needs-based funding which indicates how much funding each special education student receives based on the level of severity they are labeled with for services.

To go over six pages or more of a document that basically lets you know what kind of goals and accommodations your son has for a year can be very confusing for a parent.  To be told your IEP meeting is cut short is a smack in the face for any parent.  Furthermore, there are very specific laws in IDEA about teachers leaving an IEP meeting without parental consent and in writing.  So if this happens to you, and you were not given a time when the meeting will end, make them stay.  If they leave, they are in violation of Federal IDEA law.

Discussion is happening about both the September 30th count and the length of IEP meetings.  This report to Governor Markell from the IEP Task Force should be very interesting.

Delaware DOE, How They Spent Race To The Top Money, Rodel & Vision Network, and the Priority Zone Charters (cha-ching)

Delaware Race To The Top Funding

Delaware has spent over $100,000,000 of their Race To The Top funding.  Below is a list of how much each school district, vocational, and charter school received.  As well, amounts are listed for the Delaware Department of Education expenditures, subgrants, community involvement, school bonuses and more.  More information needs to be provided by the DOE for how much money went to who for their expenditures, as well as justification for certain expenditures like $3.7 million dollars to The Vision Network.  That’s a lot of money going to a non-profit organization!

I did not include funds received from partnership zone specific schools, but I will have another article based on that shortly.  What is very interesting is the charter schools in Delaware that received some of the highest amounts of funding.  Three charters in Wilmington received three of the five largest amounts.  Those three charters, Kuumba, Eastside and Thomas Edison are all within the priority school zone.  Markell mentioned a couple of them during his priority schools announcement as “schools that work”, as compared to the “failing” six elementary schools.  Were those schools beefed up for the past few years at the expense of the priority schools?

What did Thomas Edison Charter do to receive more than double the amount of funding than the next charter, Eastside Charter?  Also, many of the charters that received high amounts of funding have been known to have either low special education numbers or problems with special education.  If Moyer was does not meet or worse for three years in a row, what qualifies them for receiving more money than many other charters?  What qualified Campus Community and Providence Creek in Kent Country for getting such large amounts?  Why did the Charter School of Wilmington not receive any of the main funds?  You can’t say school size has much to do with it, because Newark Charter School has more than double the amount of students than Thomas Edison.

I’m going to go ahead and apologize in advance to the Delaware DOE. They may be getting a lot of calls tomorrow. I really hope this matches up with their budgets and Delaware Online Checkbook! Here are the numbers.

Delaware Race To The Top Funds

Public School Districts:

Caesar Rodney: $3,232,368
Laurel: $1,247,391
Lake Forest: $1,362,532
Capital: $5,290,106
Cape Henlopen: $2,118,985
Milford: $1,739,619
Seaford: $3,374,483
Smyrna: $1,586,135
Appoquinimonk: $215,946
Brandywine: $4,619,528
Red Clay: $7,473,377
Christina: $6,310,030
Colonial: $4,564,151
Woodbridge: $1,690,299
Indian River: $2,948,387
Delmar: $341,604

Vocational Schools:

New Castle Vocational Tech: $1,244,357
PolyTech: $265,875
Sussex Tech: $339,063

Charter Schools:

Odyssey: $23,872
Delaware College Prep: $17,896
Prestige Academy: $48,588
Positive Outcomes: $46,233
Eastside: $366,302
Campus Community: $183,225
Moyer: $285,329
Edison: $857,377.02
Sussex Academy: $25,528
Delaware Military Academy: $17,108
Family Foundations: $103,282
Kuumba: $166,965
Pencader: $38,827
Academy Of Dover: $191,519
Providence Creek: $220,721
MOT: $17,395
Newark Charter School: $57,523

Department of Education Spending from RTTT:

Delivery Unit Office Funds: $1,942,106
LDS (Longitudinal Data System): $5,863,495
Turnaround Unit Office Funds: $1,634,311
TLEU (Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Unit) $2,285,404
Indirect Costs $290,229
Data Coaches: $8,549,347
Development Coaches: $3,290,551
STEM Residency: $664,875
Leadership/Principal Training $2,376,416
SAMS $673,610
Vision Network/Comp Prof Dev $3,723,119
Teacher Prep Improvement Grants $170,000
Alternate Routes to Certification $2,614,778
Marketing/Community Engagement $304,970
Recruitment Website Portal $244,990
DE Talent Cooperative $1,557,263
Student Growth Measures $541,702
Academic Achievement Awards (School Based Bonuses): $113,594
Supplemental PZ School funds $-
Training and support for DCAS $1,014,754
STEM Coordinating Council $32,200
AP Summer Institutes $345,750
College Readiness (SAT and middle school college readiness): $1,492,943

Partnership Zone Specific School Funding:

Christina PZ funds Stubbs $543,916.53
Christina PZ funds Glasgow $458,637.54
NCCVT PZ funds for Howard $586,991.72
Positive Outcomes PZ funds $599,997.15
Indian River Community engagement subgrant $37,705.00
Seaford community engagement subgrant $47,476.00
Indian River SAMs subgrant $50,000.00
Lake Forest SAMs subgrant $50,000.00
Red Clay SAMs subgrant $50,000.00
Christina SAMs subgrant $49,997.35
Woodbridge SAMs subgrant $50,000.00
New Castle County VoTech SAMs $25,000.00
Red Clay PZ funds for Stanton Middle School $464,471.00
Red Clay PZ funds for Marbrook Elementary $325,035.78
Red Clay PZ funds for Lewis Elementary $417,172.23
Capital PZ funds for Dover H.S. $812,498.00
Laural PZ funds for Laurel Middle School $454,798.92
Christina PZ funds for Bancroft Elementary $291,163.91
CR Middle School Prep $71,201.00
Cape Henlopen Middle School Prep $42,293.00
Laurel Middle School Prep $17,696.80
Delmar Middle School Prep $18,438.00
Christina Middle School Prep $126,155.00
Smyrna Middle School Prep $50,688.78
Seaford Middle School Prep $25,870.00
Brandywine Middle School Prep $60,113.87
Capital Middle School Prep $54,570.00
Colonial Middle School Prep $50,171.08
Woodbridge Middle School Prep $20,056.00
Milford Middle School Prep $34,091.70
Delmar Family & Community Engagement $49,001.78
Lake Forest Family & Community Engagement $2,919.36
Kuumba Academy Family & Community Engagement $28,809.81
Capital Family & Community Engagement Dover H.S. $49,889.00
Red Clay Family & Community Engagement $27,970.81
Christina Family & Community Engagement $47,088.65
Indian River Middle School Prep $78,610.00
Appoquinimink Middle School Prep $29,023.21
Lake Forest Middle School Prep $34,606.00
Red Clay Middle School Prep $145,794.00
Christina William B. Keene Elementary School Based Bonuses $50,000.00
Newark Charter School – School Based Bonuses $41,250.00
Indian River John M. Clayton Elementary School Based Bonuses $41,250.00
CR DAFB Middle School -School Based Bonuses $49,979.90
Cape Henlopen-Shields Elementary -School Based Bonuses $49,999.00
Kuumba Academy-School Based Bonuses $17,663.67
CR-Stokes Elementary-School Based Bonuses $50,000.00
Milford-Morris Elementary-School Based Bonuses $41,009.68
Indian River-Showell Elementary-School Based Bonuses $50,000.00
Appoquinimink High School-School Based Bonuses $17,500.00
Capital-South Dover Elementary-School Based Bonuses $41,250.00
Indian River-Lord Baltimore Elementary-School Based Bonuses $50,000.00
Laurel School District -School Based Bonuses $48,928.59
Brandywine-Mount Pleasant Elementary School Based Bonuses $49,710.00
Cape Henlopen-Beacon Middle School -School Based Bonuses $50,000.00
Smyrna-School Based Bonuses $50,000.00
Cape Henlopen-Rehoboth Elementary School Based Bonuses $49,993.07
Brandywine-Hanby Elementary School Based Bonuses $49,901.00
Wilmington Charter – School Based Bonuses $50,000.00
Indian River – Georgetown Elementary School Based Bonuses $50,000.00
Indian River – Georgetown Middle School Based Bonuses $50,000.00
Indian River – Long Neck Elementary School Based Bonuses $50,000.00
Lake Forest -East Elementary School Based Bonuses $48,898.78
Lake Forest – South Elementary School Based Bonuses $49,958.00
NCCVT-St. George’s Technical High School Based Bonuses $50,000.00
Capital – North Dover Elementary School Based Bonuses $17,500.00
Sussex Academy School Based Bonuses $41,250.00
Christina-Elbert-Palmer Elementary School Based Bonuses $40,639.34
Christina – R. Elisabeth Maclary Elementary School Based Bonuses $41,245.11
Appo-Middletown High School Based Bonuses $17,435.00
Colonial – Carrie Downie Elementary School Based Bonuses $47,830.65
Lake Forest- Lake Forest North Elementary School Based Bonuses $41,177.36
Caesar Rodney-W.B. Simpson Elementary School Based Bonuses $50,000.00
Indian River-East Millsboro Elementary School Based Bonuses $49,708.00

Other Items Not Specifically Categorized:

Next Generation Science Standards $41,430.50
Common Ground for Common Core $57,777.20
DE-TELL Survey $- ?
Strategic Data Proj SOW $- ?
Unallocated LEA funds (will be disbursed in years 3 and 4)

Grand Total: $100,331,556.52

IEP Task Force Meeting #2, Live From Dover & Wilmington @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @dwablog @nannyfat #netde #eduDE


The IEP Task Force is meeting right now! I am here, reporting.

(editor’s note: typing and updating, will clean up later!)

Matt Denn: Certain proposals were deemed either great or bad.

Deb Heffernan: Service providers that stay through entire IEP meeting. In a perfect world, great idea, but reality is they have a limited amount of time and they need to see other children. “If Possible” would be a better option. Providing draft IEP to parents ahead of time could be confusing. Both could supply draft comments, but actual IEP could be a rehashing of the draft.

Mary Ann Mieczkowski: There has to be a discussion to make accommodations and goals.

Discussion going on right now about this whole draft issue. Lots of division amongst the task force on the issue. A school team has a draft already, so they are already ahead of the game. Some feel a questionnaire or parent input form should be given to the parents prior to the IEP meeting.

“I don’t consider it a sinister element for parents to have the draft ahead of time,” said Matt Denn.

Diane Eastburn said in the over 90 IEP meetings she has attended as an advocate, in every single one of them the school has already had it ready. The big picture is already understood by the school, but it is a good faith gesture to the parents to give them an advanced copy of the draft. Discussion about what is allowable under federal law. Eastburn explained that if you waive the 10 day notice period you are also waiving right to documents being sent ahead of time.

One proposal is “Insuring no IEP team is limited to a particular time frame.” Laura Manges said she allows 2 hours for each meeting and then they have to reschedule. It’s difficult to plan with no given time frame.

Matt Denn stopped and reminded members to announce their name before they speak so those listening to the audio recording can know who is speaking. This blogger is grateful for that.

Needra from PIC said to be wary of giving specific time frame because every IEP and student is different.

Senator Poore commented on speech pathologist Tracy Bombarra’s statement about having 26 IEPs so far in less than a month. Poore feels this is extreme and needs to be looked at. We wouldn’t accept that in the corporate world so why would we in this process? If every provider is stuck in IEP meetings, how are the providers giving services to the students who need them? Bill Doolittle thinks practice of having IEP meetings only during the school day is not practical. Bombarra asked what happens to funding when she has to work after school or on the weekends. No actual answers given.

House Representative Joe Miro bringing up graduation rates now. Now switching to finding good personnel to provide services. How are we attracting students to come to Delaware to provide services. We need to be competitive with funding. We lose people due to this matter.

Denn attempting to get meeting back on track. Will take these other matters on agenda for next meeting. Today is not the last day to bring up new matters.

Denn said there are 18 items to discuss and won’t be able to get through all of them today. First two overlap, which is “jargon” language in the IEP. (Certain terms have to be in the IEP: Editor’s note).

Dave Lawson asking if there is anything on the list that can be taken off? Denn expects the list to grow.

Liz Toney: We have to bring up the disability in the meeting. We should not have IEPs that are only academic goals.

Bill Doolittle: IEP is structured to identify needs. Goals are a measurement to see if needs are being met. It’s more about having a broad range of needs being met for the child. To go immediately to the goal corrupts the process.

Marissa Vann: Wants to see support in IEP where if student moves around from one district to another, the IEP will follow them.

Heffernan: Setting is for compliance with feds, like Least Restricted Environment.

Doolittle: Every sub or assistant should see IEPs so everyone knows what is in there and should be fully documented.

What happens in practice is things are being done for the entire class through an IEP and not the specific child.

(no consistency amongst the school districts or even the schools with each school district)

There are too many glitches in the system. It can create half an hour to create notice of meeting, for example, during hot IEP season. Before implementation of IEP plus, a lot of time being spent on computer issues. Bombarra said it takes three hours of prep time prior to the actual IEP meeting. Patricia Dallas commented that IEP Plus basically didn’t work after May 27th. Parent Rep Diane Eastburn talked about an IEP meeting she was at today where the screen kept turning blue and problems with the system caused an hour to be lost in the meeting. Denn jokingly said “Do we pay to have IEP Plus?”

Every non-task force member received a list of the Chair’s Summary of Proposals for Discussion. I will be posting that up later.

Heffernan again, all goals need to be data based. (Here comes the SMART goals). Group is losing direction, in my humble opinion.

Toney: She knows of IEP goals for attention, and goals that are measurable. Denn is talking about goals for social skills where children basically get friends at a young age, but that is hard to quantify. Denn said it’s hard to reduce them to numbers. Bombarra not recommending things like this be in an IEP, but rather more professional development for providers.

Denn exerting control over meeting. Mieczkowski said there can be more than one IEP meeting in a year. Have to have at least one annually. Denn learning the process. Doolittle said we have artificially compressed IEPs for this September 30th date. Patricia Dallas spoke about annual revision. If the team meets in a non-annual IEP meeting, can that count as the annual IEP meeting? (NO! Goals need to be gone over based on a year’s worth of goals)

Discussion about the September 30th count. There has to be classification by 9/30 to get funding. Denn wondering if there is anything in Federal law that dictates this. Mieczkowski said this is Delaware. Student needs to have complete IEP written with goals and accommodations (to calculate needs-based funding).

(Absolutely no discussion by this task force on charter school application enrollment preference and counseling out, not even on list of potential proposals)

Bombarra again talking about outside agencies like Easter Seals and their time constraints in terms of insurance. There are a lot of nuances.

(it seems like this task force is all about things that don’t help children access the benefits of an IEP, the focus needs to be less on the logistics behind it and more on the problems children are having with IEP denials and teachers not actually using the IEP and accommodating the students)

Denn talking about changing state law with needs-based funding. Mary Ann said it would be artificial to say you need complex level funding when the IEP hasn’t been created. Senator Lawson said how about we just let the funding follow the student! Much applause and clapping!

Public Comment: Dave Rose from Positive Outcomes. Been in special education for 40 years. Talking about how he created an IEP for each student in his class. Talking about how process has grown exponentially in the past 40 years. Talking about Positive Outcomes (Dave runs special ed for Positive Outcomes). Wants IEPs to be about the child, not the work behind getting an IEP together.

Another parent spoke about how each child is different, not enough parent fellowship.

This blogger spoke about the charter school issue I mentioned above. Talked about application enrollment preference and counseling out. I advised with priority schools situation occurring right now, over 300 children may be taken away from the services they have now and potentially be put in charter schools that have historically been shown not to provide adequate services. I advised the task force (Did mention Positive Outcomes and Gateway as charters not included due to them specializing in providing these types of services).

Shelly Alioia talking about moving 5 miles and district changed. Her son suffered, due to changes between districts. Not enough consideration for individual child. We need to be able to factor in the emotional damage done to children throughout the IEP process. Transitions aren’t consistent among different schools.

Meeting adjourned.

(I will clean this up later, wanted to get it live)

My thoughts on tonight’s meeting. Many walked out of there feeling like the task force has lost it’s purpose. As SCR 63, the legislative resolution for the task force states the following:


WHEREAS, Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) are the mechanism under federal and state law whereby schools determine what academic and other services should be provided to students with special needs, and what goals should be set for those students; and
WHEREAS, the process of developing IEPs for students in some of our state’s schools and school districts is, at best, difficult for parents to understand and navigate, and at worst in some instances, unfair and intimidating to parents; and
WHEREAS, the General Assembly has made efforts over the past several years to improve the IEP process, by passing legislation leveling up the services to which students with disabilities are entitled and legislation making it more economically feasible for parents dissatisfied with their children’s IEP to appeal the IEP decision; and
WHEREAS, notwithstanding these improvements, the IEP process does not always result in the best outcome for students with disabilities; and
WHEREAS, it is in the best interest of students with disabilities for Delaware to improve the IEP process used in its schools.

I can’t wait until the audio recording comes out so the entire state can hear how disjointed and unfocused this meeting was. Nothing against Matt Denn, but it seemed like it was all about what’s bad for the schools. Complaints about the computer system, and actual debate about providing advanced copies of the draft to parents so they don’t walk into a meeting blind, and some elements which could potentially violate IDEA law. It seemed like parent concerns have gone right out the window. One member of the task force took more notes during the ten or so minutes of public comment than during the actual meeting.

Having the task force in two separate locations seems like a bad idea at this point as well. I like the idea of it, but the practicality seems more focused on one location than the other. In my opinion, it should be in Dover. Nothing against the Wilmington folks, but this is a state-wide task force, and Dover is not only the capital, but also the central point of the state.

Nobody has brought up the upcoming roll-out of standards-based IEPs, the charter school special education fiasco in our state, IEP denials, or teachers not accommodating students. It’s become a bitch session for the schools and the providers of special ed services. How is any of this helping the parents? Yes, it might make IEP meetings a little shorter if they can fix the glitches in the system, but at the end of the day we want to trust the schools to do the right thing for our children. We don’t want to battle against teachers, admins and other providers. We want open communication, and for the schools to do what they say they are going to do, or to do what they are legally required to.

I couldn’t tell with the videoconferencing, but was Brian Touchette even there? What’s the point of being Governor Markell’s designee if you don’t even talk? Or show up? If anyone from the Wilmington group can let me know this.

The focus on the parent was lost tonight. I hope Matt Denn can steer the ship back, because the students with disabilities need this.

Two Very Important Announcements For Delaware Parents @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @dwablog @nannyfat @delawareonline @doverpost @thestatenews #edchat #netde #eduDE


Delaware Parents who have children that attend the six priority schools: You basically have one week to do something before decisions are reached.  The districts either have to sign the MOU (Memorandum Of Understanding) or reject it.  Either way, the implications will be huge.  If you want to plan something or organize, I have started a Facebook group called Delaware Parents Against Priority Schools.  Here’s a link:

Tomorrow, September 23rd, at 4:30pm, is the next IEP Task Force meeting.  This will again be in both locations, the Collette Educational Resource Center in Dover and the Carvel Building in Wilmington.  Matt Denn wants parents to come and tell their story.  If you have children with special needs, please come and tell your story.  If you have children who attend the priority schools who receive special education services, you should definitely come as this could be your last chance to speak to the IEP Task Force before major changes occur to your child’s services.

The Exceptional Delaware Top 10 Charts! #netde #eduDE

Top Ten Lists

Top Ten Stories Of All-Time











Top Ten Countries Reading Exceptional Delaware:

1) USA

2) Canada

3) United Kingdom

4) Australia

5) Germany

6) France

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Top 10 Bottom Stories On Exceptional Delaware But Worth Reading!











Top Ten Referrers To Exceptional Delaware:

1) Facebook


3) Twitter

4) Google

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Top 10 People Who Probably Wish I Never Started Blogging:

1) Secretary of Education Murphy

2) Mary Ann Mieczkowski

3) Governor Markell

4) Penny Schwinn

5) Stacie Bohannon

6) Delaware Senator Greg Lavelle

7) Kendall Massett

8) Chuck Taylor

9) US Secretary Of Education Arne Duncan

10) The Delaware Legislative Hall

Top Ten Tags

1) Special Education

2) Common Core

3) Smarter Balanced Assessment

4)  Rigor

5) Math

6) Idea

7) Students With Disabilities

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10) Standards Based IEPs

Top Ten Places I Write Articles

1) Kitchen Table

2) Car

3) Bedroom

4) Governor’s Café

5) Back Porch

6) Front Portch

7) IEP Task Force

8) Delaware DOE

9) Family Room

10) Dover Mall

Into The Wild: The Special Needs Kids of Delaware’s Priority Schools @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @delawareonline #netde #eduDE

Delaware Priority Schools Takeover, Uncategorized

People have asked me why I care about the priority schools all the way up in Wilmington when I live in Dover.  My reply is we should all care.  Not only because what the state and the DOE are doing is fundamentally wrong, but also because if it can happen there it can happen anywhere in our state if we don’t make a stand.  I am also very concerned about what happens with all of the students with disabilities who receive special education services.

Here are the facts: If the Red Clay and Christina school districts do not sign the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) by September 30th, the Delaware DOE will take them over.  This is no secret.  All indications are leading to the school district boards refusing to do so.  Rumors, although unsubstantiated, indicate these six schools would become charter schools.

For the September 30th, 2013 count, the six schools had the following special education populations:

Bancrof, Christina 14.7% 61 out of 206
Bayard, Christina 19.0%  88 out of 463
Warner, Red Clay 15.4% 101 out of 541
Shortlidge, Red Clay 14.0% 45 out of 317
Stubbs, Christina 9.5% 31 out of 325
Highlands, Red Clay 11.5% 32 out of 350

In comparison, the “great” charter schools Markell referred to had the following special ed populations:

East Side Charter 15.1% 61 out of 403 (students with Special Education did not score proficient in scoring)
Kuumba Academy 5.7% 17 out of 298 (not enough students to even count in the proficiency figures)

So what happens to these 358 special education students?

358 childen with IEPs and special education services may be transferred to new charter schools. As a whole, Delaware charter schools have been notorious for not being able to adequately handle special education correctly. Very few even accept the most severely complex students with disabilities.

Taking away the potential legal hurdles that may come up for the DOE, such as union contracts, ownership of the school buildings, and other litigation that may come up, say these students go to a new charter school. Since it is essentially a transfer, an IEP would have to be reviewed. Governor Markell has already said these schools will be put through a rigorous process to get the students to proficiency status. He announced after school activities for tutoring and to get students back on track. Children with special needs often have enough problems getting through a regular school day. To add longer time to the day will be a severe burden for these kids.

The “rigor” of common core will be put to the test with special needs children at these new schools. I have a theory that out of these six schools, one of the new charters will focus solely on all of these displaced students with IEPs. This would eliminate inclusion and the least restricted environment. It would also allow the other five schools proficiency scores to automatically rise on standardized testing since the “specials” are no longer part of the equation. This is not about “closing the gaps” as the DOE, Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and Governor Markell have stated. Even more far reaching is the belief from many that the DOE will grandstand these achievements, and try to have even more reach across the state with this experiment.

If this is true, every single special needs parent in Delaware needs to be very concerned. Our children will be segregated from “normal” children and a free appropriate public education will become a joke. Even worse, for these special needs children at the priority schools, this will become a TRIPLE SEGREGATION: special needs, low income and minorities. This sinister agenda is happening right before our very eyes and we need to unite. If I were any parent of special needs children at these six schools, you need to speak now. You need to organize into a group and come down to Dover, straight to the DOE office, to the Governor’s office, and anywhere your collected voice can carry weight. Demand that Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy resign or call for his termination. You need to write to the newspapers, the blogs, and contact TV and radio stations. Call AND email your elected officials: State House Representatives and Senators. Let our US Senator and House Representative representing Delaware know your complaints. Contact the US Department of Education. Let President Obama know. Contact the Office of Civil Rights. You need to picket where it will be noticed.

The IEP Task Force has their next meeting on Tuesday, September 23rd, at 4:30 pm. There are two locations: The Carvel Building in Wilmington and The Collette Center in Dover. If you are working, ask to leave early. Bring your children with you. Tell the task force your fears. Let them know you are not okay with this.

In ten days, by October 1st, you may not have any more options. This is short notice, but your children will be severely affected by this. There is no time to wait. If you have any doubt in your mind, you need to do this now. Because once it happens, you will live with regret that you didn’t speak up sooner.


What Was Secretary of Education Mark Murphy So Happy About? @KilroysDelaware @ed_in-De @dwablog @nannyfat #netde #eduDE

Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy

I’ve reviewed the news conference Governor Jack Markell gave after the announcement about the Priority Schools (Takeover) in Red Clay Consolidated and Christina school districts.  Here is a link to the Delaware Online video of it:

At the 30 second mark, the camera shifts over to Secretary of Education Mark Murphy when Markell started talking about how the schools will be having “great school leaders.”  Murphy cannot contain some sort of jubilant feeling he is having.  It actually goes on for a couple seconds, but then it looks like he checks himself, as if he’s thinking “Oops, not appropriate here.”  I found this to be very odd behavior from a Secretary of Education during a press announcement that the state is essentially taking over six low-performing, low-income elementary schools.

A picture can tell a thousand words, but a video tells even more!  Things I am wondering now about Murphy are 1) What does he already know about potential leaders for the schools IF the state winds up taking them over, 2) What’s in it for him?  Some financial connection perhaps?, and 3) Is Mark Murphy right in the head?

In my opinion, this is just another chapter in the long book Markell and Murphy have written on their changes to education in Delaware.  But I truly hope this is where the story takes over and bites them in the ass!

Uh-Oh, Common Core for Special Education. What are Standards-Based IEPs? And which are the Pilot Districts?


Standards-based IEPs are coming. They are already here in some Delaware districts and across the country. Since I wrote this article a month and a half ago, I’ve found out standards-based IEPs have been around since No Child Left Behind was introduced back in 2002. But designing IEPs to fit the Common Core standards is a newer thing, going back to 2010 in some states. Delaware is just starting this “initiative” in 2014. This is dangerous, and deceptive, just like the Common Core Standards and the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Our special needs students have never needed their parents to speak up more. This is the line in the sand, and we have to cross it now. We have to rise, like an army, and fight with our voices. We must unify, we must retaliate, and we must say no. If we don’t, our children will be subjected to a hell we have never seen before. The very nature, the very essence of an Individualized Education Plan will change forever. And if we say nothing, we are allowing this to happen. We are saying “Please let my child go through the rigor of common core so the proficiency gaps can close.” But here’s the catch. No matter what, that gap will not close under Common Core. This standard is not the answer. Every single special needs parent in Delaware needs to go to the IEP Task Force meeting on Tuesday, September 23rd, and tell them you will not sign an IEP that inserts Common Core into your child’s IEP. Brian Touchette, the director of assessment at the Delaware DOE has been assigned by Governor Markell as his designee on the task force. This is a shrewd move by Markell to get this initiative inserted into IEPs across the state. Say no!

The Season Of Myths

That June 14th Annual IDEA Presentation from the Exceptional Children Group of the Delaware DOE to the Delaware Board of Education sure provided a wealth of knowledge. One of the things that was mentioned was standards-based IEPs. From my transcript in an earlier article, this was where Sarah Celestin spoke of this new form of IEP:

“The first standards based IEPs: This is a new initiative that really has just started since January. We’ve been doing some development work since last summer but the training kicked off in late January and early February. The reason we are moving towards standards based IEPs in Delaware is in our compliance monitoring of IEPs we saw that sometimes the rigor, there was a lot of remedial kind of goals and there wasn’t as much focus on how is a student gonna access grade level instruction. And you remember you need an accommodation, you…

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