Delaware DOE & Red Clay Respond To ACLU Complaint, What Happens Next, & My Demand From Delaware

ACLU vs. State of Delaware and Red Clay

In an article by the Hockessin Community News, both the Delaware Department of Education and the Red Clay Consolidated School District responded to the announcement yesterday of a complaint by the American Civil Liberties Union and Community Legal Aid, Inc. submitted to the Office of Civil Rights regarding charter school discrimination against minorities, low-income students and special needs children.

The Delaware DOE’s response:

“We are committed to providing access to great educational opportunities for every Delaware student, from birth through higher education, and we are proud of the academic progress our low-income students and children of color have made in recent years, including by closing the gap between minority and non-minority students,” said Alison May, press spokesperson for the Delaware DOE.

May said that the state’s efforts to expand access has doubled the number of low-income children in “high-quality” early childhood programs, and has helped 100 percent of the state’s college-ready students apply to college regardless of their income.

“We will continue to expand and accelerate our efforts to make great education a reality for all of our students,” she said.

Red Clay’s response:

Red Clay Public Information Officer Pati Nash said that the district is now and always has been committed to the principles of diversity and inclusion in their schools.

“We will continue to be guided by those principles,” Nash said. “And continue providing an excellent education to our students and the community we serve.”

Newcastle Councilman of the 10th District Jea Street said:

“This is not only a New Castle County problem – this is statewide,” Street said, now in his 41st year as a student advocate. He later added, “I support this and I appreciate this (complaint).”

The article went on to explain what will happen next. The complaint has been issued to the United States Office of Civil Rights and the US Department of Education. This is not something that will be handled out of the regional Office of Civil Rights out of Philadelphia. An investigation will be done to see if the complaint has merit, which the legal director of the Delaware ACLU, Richard Morse, believes will happen.

A declaration on the complaint was submitted by Eve Buckley. Buckley resides in Newark, DE and is a history professor at University of Delaware. In the declaration Buckley compared Newark Charter School’s enrollment preference to those of private schools, which are not beholden to many laws due to private funding and the fact they receive no state or federal funds for their operations. Charter schools do receive federal and state funds, so any laws applicable to the regular public school districts apply to charter schools as well.

On Facebook and other forums, many citizens of Delaware have gone back and forth on the issue. Some feel it is something that should have happened years ago while others want the status quo. Many others blame the whole situation with bussing around Wilmington as the chief contributor of the problem. Unfortunately, some comments have been racist and discriminatory.

I find the Delaware DOE’s response to be typical, but very weak. To cite examples of pre-school children and juniors and seniors in high school on how they promote equity is ignoring the main victims of this complaint, all the students in-between. Once again, the Delaware DOE takes an opportunity to proudly announce how the gap is being reduced between these sub-groups and “regular” students based on standardized testing scores. The Delaware DOE, in my opinion, has been blissfully ignorant of everything else happening in schools unless it is related to education reform policies. They have allowed this to happen by essentially doing nothing about it. There are many other factors contributing to this, but the DOE could have done something about it as the state agency for education.

What I find very surprising is how this is just a charter school issue. There are other schools that have some of these same practices. Polytech, in Kent County, is just one example. Some online have said the magnet schools and vocational schools in Delaware have used enrollment preference in their applications as well. Yes, the charters are the primary target in this complaint, but in my opinion, ANY school that uses any type of discriminatory practices to weed out any sub-group in the surrounding community is just as guilty.

I take grave offense to the treatment of the special needs children in this state. If they aren’t denied entrance to a charter school, many are denied the special education services that should be given to them under Federal law. I have brought up this topic at just about every IEP Task Force meeting to be a topic in the report to Governor Markell. I met with Mary Ann Mieczkowski, the director of the Exceptional Children’s Resources Group at the Delaware DOE last summer, and her response to why the Delaware DOE does not audit schools for denied IEPs is because the “due process system is more than fair.”

It wasn’t until last night at the IEP Task Force that a member actually brought it up. Bill Doolittle, representing the Governor’s Advisory Council of Exceptional Citizens, stated that if the task force is reviewing the entire IEP process, and evaluations are an integral part of the discovery phase of an IEP request, then an IEP denial should absolutely be included in the conversation. It is too late for this to go into Governor Markell’s report due January 1st, but if the IEP Task Force continues past January (which Lieutenant Governor/soon to be Attorney General Matt Denn said is “highly” likely), it may come up as a topic. If nothing is done about IEP denials being audited in the state of Delaware very soon, I will be submitting my own complaint to both the US Office of Civil Rights as well as the US Department of Education. Enough is enough. Far too many students and their families have suffered as a result of an IEP denial. Far too many students who did not receive services at a young age when they should have end up spending time in residential treatment centers because of this practice. How many tears have to be shed? How many families have to be torn apart before this DOE acts? If they don’t act, I will.

Read more:

Mark Murphy Hanging Out With Obama Today @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @RCEAPrez @Apl_Jax @ecpaige @nannyfat @TNJ_malbright @Roof_O @DelawareBats #netde #eduDE #Delaware #edchat

Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy

Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy is at the White House today for an event to support college readiness.  This isn’t a mutually exclusive thing, as hundreds of other comparable leaders from states and school districts were invited as well.  To be a fly on the wall though for any conversation between the President and Murphy.  The below is from the Delaware DOE News Page, courtesy of everyone’s favorite Alison May:

Delaware reinforces commitment to expand college access at White House event

Delaware Reinforces Commitment to Expand College Access at White House Event

Two Wheels, Same Bike: Conflict of Interest at the Delaware DOE @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @Apl_Jax @RCEAPrez @ecpaige @nannyfat @Roof_O @TNJ_malbright @DelawareBats @hanna_hurley #netde #eduDE #edchat #Delaware

Delaware DOE


Thanks to anonymous for getting this to me!  Our schools and DOE in Delaware have been slowly invaded by pro education reform individuals.  This is all backed by The Rodel Foundation of Delaware and The Vision Network.  Last Spring, the Delaware DOE hired Mrs. Penny Schwinn, a charter school leader from Sacramento, as the Chief Accountability and Performance Officer.  Months later, Mr. Paul Schwinn, her husband, has been hired as the Director of Leadership Development for the Delaware Leadership Project, which is funded by the Delaware DOE, Rodel and Vision.  I know the Delaware DOE wants family involvement, but this is a clear conflict of interest.  The wheels on the Schwinn go round and round…

Paul Schwinn

Paul Schwinn joined the Delaware Leadership Project as the Director of Leadership Development in 2014.   Mr. Schwinn began his teaching career in Baltimore City Public Schools in 2004 as a middle school social studies teacher.  During his tenure, all of his classes made significant gains on standards based assessments in world cultures, reading and math.  Paul also has experience in the charter school sector working with St. HOPE Public Schools in Sacramento, California.  During his tenure with St. HOPE, he served as a Teacher and Advisory Lead at Sacramento Charter High School, as the Founder and Principle of Oak Park Prep middle School, a Title I school that became the highest performing middle school in California whose students were a majority African-American in its first year of operation, and as the Principal of Sacramento Charter High School, also a Title I school.  As a result of his leadership at Sacramento Charter High School, the staff satisfaction rate nearly doubled from the previous year and the school set a record high of 92% of seniors accepted into a four-year university.  In addition to serving as a classroom instructor and school leader, Paul has served as a Professional Learning Community Facilitator with Teach for America in Los Angeles, and as a Graduate Student Instructor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Penny Schwinn

Penny Schwinn is the Chief Accountability and Performance Officer. She is responsible for the Assessment, Accountability, Turnaround, Performance Management, Data, and Research and Evaluation offices within the Department. Penny leads this work with the core belief that transparently measuring school progress using comprehensive performance metrics is critical to driving student achievement.

Prior to her role in Delaware, Penny served as the Assistant Superintendent of Performance Management for Sacramento City Unified School District and the Founder of Capitol Collegiate Academy. As assistant superintendent in Sacramento, Penny developed the region’s first multiple-measure accountability framework through an extensive community planning process in partnership with the Office of Family and Community Engagement. This belief in performance management and the need to communicate openly with families grew from her experiences as founder of Capitol Collegiate, which achieved 98% proficiency within three years, as well as her early experiences working in schools in Sacramento, Oakland, and Richmond. She began her career in education as a high school teacher in Baltimore City and has also worked to build operational systems in the private sector.

Two of Christina’s Priority Schools Get Excellent Reviews In Review By DOE & University of Delaware @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @Apl_Jax @RCEAPrez @ecpaige @nannyfat @Roof_O @TNJ_malbright @GovernorMarkell @DeDeptofEd @DeStateBoardEd @WBOC @WDEL @DelawareBats #netde #eduDE #Delaware #edchat #prioritizethat

Delaware Priority Schools Takeover

There is absolutely no reason for Governor Markell to take over these schools.  It would be a rather foolish move on his part based on this study!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                     

December 3, 2014


Wendy Lapham, Public Information Officer, Christina School District, 302-552-2610 

Two “Priority” Schools Receive High Scores on Comprehensive Reviews Conducted by Delaware Department of Education and University of Delaware

Wilmington, DE –  Two Comprehensive Success Reviews conducted in November by the Delaware Department of Education, the University of Delaware, and the Delaware Academy of School Leadership gave an overall high rating to two “Priority’ Schools in Christina: Bancroft Elementary School and Stubbs Elementary School.  The reports highlight the many areas of strength being demonstrated at both schools.

The evaluations were conducted using a rubric score on a scale of 1-4, with 1 being the lowest rating and 4 being the highest rating.

Out of a total of 37 categories, Bancroft scored the highest score of “4” in 15 categories, and earned a score of “3” in 17 categories. The school received a rating of “2” in only 4 categories, and received only one rating of “1,” in the area of parent and community involvement in the review of the School Success Plan and parent awareness of the School Success Plan. In the two other areas of parent communication and involvement measured, Bancroft scored a “3” in both categories.

Out of a total of 37 categories, Stubbs scored the highest rating of “4” in 16 categories, and earned a score of “3” in 14 categories. Stubbs received a rating of “2” in only five categories, and received no scores of“1.” Two categories were not applicable.

Both schools received the highest rating of “4” in the categories of Policies, Procedures, and Structures, School Leadership Decisions, Time Management, Curriculum and Instruction, Strategies for Students Who Are at Risk or Do Not Master Standards, Access to Instructional Materials, and Scientifically Researched-Based Instructional Strategies.

Christina’s third “Priority” school, Bayard Middle School, underwent a Comprehensive Success Review (CSR) in April, 2014. That review indicated some of the areas that needed improvement, but since the time of the review, a new school leader was named and the school has undergone other changes based in part on the results of the report.

The results of the CSRs for Bancroft and Stubbs are significant because they suggest that the two schools are achieving in multiple areas, and that they have demonstrated significant progress since the last reviews were conducted in 2012. This is in direct contrast to the state’s announcement on September 4 that the schools are among the lowest-performing in the state. Bancroft, Stubbs, and Bayard Middle School must develop comprehensive plans to be approved by the Delaware Department of Education by January 7, or the District could face possible closure of the three “Priority” schools, and/or takeover by outside operators.

“We are excited about the very positive results of the Comprehensive Success Reviews, but not necessarily surprised by them,” said Christina Superintendent Dr. Freeman Williams. “For the past two years, we have been working towards the exact results that are now evident in the reviews. We will continue to focus on those areas that need improvement, while maintaining our effort in the overwhelming number of areas where those results show we are already demonstrating success.” 

# # #

Wendy Lapham

Manager of Communications/Public Information Officer

Christina School District

600 N. Lombard Street

Wilmington, DE 19801

(302) 552-2610