As Priority Schools Receive Extension, Gateway Parents Speak Up Tonight

The Delaware Department of Education pulled off a sneaky move today in regards to the Gateway Public Comment session. They were scheduled to speak first at the meeting in Wilmington, and then Reach Academy For Girls. Both were recommended for closure by the Charter School Accountability Committee at the Delaware DOE. Their fate will be decided at the State Board of Education meeting on December 18th. Secretary of Education Mark Murphy will announce his decision, and then the board will vote on it.

Many Gateway parents decided to take a bus to avoid traffic, and planned for a certain time and arranged babysitting for their special needs children. The DOE called late in the afternoon and announced Gateway would be speaking after Reach. Gateway has received a lot of media exposure with the announcement, and many parents planned on speaking. One anonymous parent saw the DOE’s move as a stealth tactic to get less parents there. One report from the location states that there are hundreds of people there, but the room only holds 180 people. One would have to wonder if the DOE plans things like this.

Many politicians from the House and Senate signed a letter of support for Gateway, but many people are wondering if they will do the same for the Priority Schools. And speaking of the Priority Schools, Transparent Christina posted a response from the school district today indicating their proposed MOU to the DOE just wasn’t good enough and to keep working at it, but that’s okay, cause they got an extension until January 7th. I guess Markell doesn’t want to make a big public announcement on New Years Day. Penny Schwinn signed the letter which can be read here: http://transparentchristina.wordpress.com/2014/12/10/ddoe-mou-draft-response-just-in-case-you-need-additional-evidence-of-our-obstinate-lying-doe/

In other news, Mike Matthews and I reached our preliminary goal of $500 for our GoFundMe FOIA Request to the DOE and Markell’s office after an anonymous donor named F*ckJack donated $170. Thank you F*ckJack!

Over on Kilroys, I battled with the infamous lastDEconservative for half the day after going a few rounds with Pencadermom and Greg (no last name) yesterday. My opponent for today, while not belittling me, was off to Twitter to check out the Shakira feeds. Which was okay with me as I was sawing wood for my son’s catapult he is making for a science project. Yes folks, it’s been that kind of day!
Public Comment can be made on the DOE website at

The Priority Schools & Governor Markell GoFundMe FOIA Donation Is Live! @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @RCEAPrez @Apl_Jax @ecpaige @nannyfat @Roof_O @DelawareBats @BadassTeachersA @TNJ_malbright #netde #eduDE #Delaware #edchat #prioritizethat

Mike Matthews, Warner Elementary School and RCEA President, and I have both submitted FOIA requests to the state of Delaware.  Mike submitted his on 11/20/14 to the Delaware Department of Education for any emails from or to the DOE containing the following: Warner Elementary School, Highlands Elementary School, Shortlidge Elementary School, Bancroft Elementary School, Bayard Middle School, and Stubbs Middle School (all the priority schools), the words priority school, partnership zone school, turnaround school, Gateway Lab School, and other key words, from 3/14/13 to 11/19/14.

Mike received a response from the DOE indicating it would be an initial $300 cost to even continue with the email search.  Alison May, the public information officer for the DOE, said with all the words it could be several thousand hits, and they have to take out information that is not FOIAble, like student information or emails to the General Assembly (not covered by FOIA).  The hourly rate to do this is $35.66 (which by state law would have to be the lowest paid employee able to do the task) plus copying costs and whatnot.  Mike has since indicated he wants to see these documents in digital format, which will reduce the amount significantly.

I submitted a FOIA request to Governor Jack Markell’s office on 12/2/4.  I asked for emails going back to January 21st, 2009, the date of Markell’s inauguration, between Markell and four individuals, whom I will not name at this point.  The only response I have received from this office is that I will receive a response by the 15th business day, which would be 12/22/14.  I advised them to let me know if the cost would be more than $40.00 but I have received no estimate.

Mike’s FOIA alone will stretch into hundreds of dollars, if not over a thousand.  I have no idea about my own or if they will even honor the request.  Certain allowable reasons can get either an extended amount of time or a complete decline.

Mike has started a GoFundMe account for the purpose of raising donations for these FOIA requests.  Mike and I have agreed that if the amount received goes over these costs, they will be donated to the local food bank as charity.  We will submit all receipts to anyone who asks, and I will even scan them on here as well.  To date we have raised $330 out of $500 but the costs could be higher.  The link for the GoFundMe page is http://www.gofundme.com/DelawareFOIA

The time has come to get the truth about what is going on with education in Delaware.