Delaware DOE, Stop Bullying & Lying To Parents re: Opt Out With Your Scare Tactic Letter

Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) Please stop telling parents they are breaking the law if they opt their child out of Smarter Balanced. No where in the federal law does it state a parent can not do that. As for the state law you cite in your letter, it does say “schools” and “individuals”, but you need to reread the law, because earlier it specifically states:

(4) ”Individual” means a student, teacher, administrator, local or state school board member, or other employee, agent or contractor employed by the Delaware public school system whether local or at the state level, and including an employee, agent or contractor of a charter school;

For anyone reading this article through a link on Facebook or Twitter, please spread this everywhere.  If you live in Delaware, spread it to every corner of the state, from Wilmington to Rehoboth.  Email it, print it, give it to your friends and neighbors.  The only way we can get our DOE to stop this madness is by letting every single person in the state know what they are up to.

This is threatening parents based on a misinterpretation of the law. If you want to sit there and tell all parents it’s okay for the DOE to give this information, go right ahead. But know that parents will find out this information, one way or another. Until the DOE takes away parental rights from a parent, you can save some paper costs and try to find some other way to get parents to believe the lies you are telling them.  The only thing illegal in this letter is the act of making this letter.

This is why you are losing trust with more parents every day!  By deliberately misleading and bullying parents, you are showing what educators and schools across the state already know: You will do whatever it takes to please Governor Markell and his friends at Rodel.  This is not something any parent or educator or student signed off on.  The Common Core Standards were developed by the Feds and the governors of every single state at the time forced it upon local school districts, and with every year and every waiver that occurs, schools are losing more and more control and education has become a joke.  The more you bully all of us, the more we will stand up to you.  The more you send out threatening letters like this to school districts and parents, the more parents will want to opt out.  By manipulating and twisting regulations and the law, you will do the one thing you didn’t want to happen: cause a very massive opt out in this state.

For any news outlet reading this, please investigate the Delaware Department of Education.  From the time Race To The Top began until the present.  This DOE has manipulated and used standardized testing to further their own agendas to have more charter schools open in the state.  This is all part of an “education blueprint” developed by a non-profit (debated in some circles) and Governor Markell in the four years before he became Governor.  I would look at all DOE contracts, Race To The Top spending, and more.  I will gladly assist anyone in their investigation.  In fact, myself and other individual have some pending FOIA requests that may shed some light on matters.

For all parents reading this in Delaware: It is NOW time to end this.  We need to speak up and demand accountability and action from our legislators, DOE, and Governor Markell, even if it means calling for impeachment of Governor Jack Markell and demanding Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy be fired.

I posted this last week and I will repost it here again:

I’ve obtained a copy of the sample letter parents can expect to receive if they opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  There is a lot of threatening statements in this letter, but THEY HAVE NO MERIT ACCORDING TO THE LAW!!!!

Parents, do not be threatened by this vain attempt by the Delaware DOE to prevent you from honoring your constitutional right to determine what is best for your child’s education!!!

SAMPLE LETTER
LOCAL EDUCATION AGENCY (LEA)

DATE

Dear (Parent/Guardian),

This letter is in response to your request to have your child not participate in mandated state testing, which will be administered this spring. Unfortunately, (LEA) has no discretion in the matter. Federal and state laws require that public-school students be tested.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), which was amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, requires all states to implement “high-quality, yearly student academic assessments.” 20 U.S.C. § 6311(b) (3)(A). The statute further provides that “[s]uch assessments shall . . . provide for . . . the participation in such assessments of all students.” 20 U.S.C. § 6311(b)(3)(C) (emphasis added). The ESEA does not allow parents to exempt their children from taking the state assessments.

Delaware State Code also is clear that school districts and individuals shall not “exclude a student from participation in the state assessment except in accordance with the regulations of the Department” (Title 14, Chapter 1, Subchapter IV § 173).

The only exemptions allowed under the law due to extreme medical incidents or for reasons of mental health of the child. Each requires documentation from a physician.

Both federal and state statutes are clear in their language—that all students enrolled in public schools must take the yearly state assessments. The Delaware Department of Education and each school district and charter school must comply with federal and state mandates.

If you have any questions, please contact (NAME AND CONTACT INFORMATION FOR LEA CONTACT PERSON).

Sincerely,
(SUPERINTENDENT/CHARTER DIRECTOR’S NAME)
(LOCAL EDUCATION AGENCY NAME)

So let’s take a look at the specific codes they are mentioning:

20 U.S.C. § 6311(b)

(3)  Academic assessments

 (A)  In general
Each State plan shall demonstrate that the State educational agency, in consultation with local educational agencies, has implemented a set of high-quality, yearly student academic assessments that include, at a minimum, academic assessments in mathematics, reading or language arts, and science that will be used as the primary means of determining the yearly performance of the State and of each local educational agency and school in the State in enabling all children to meet the State’s challenging student academic achievement standards, except that no State shall be required to meet the requirements of this part relating to science assessments until the beginning of the 2007–2008 school year.

The State shall have such academic standards for all public elementary school and secondary school children, including children served under this part, in subjects determined by the State, but including at least mathematics, reading or language arts, and (beginning in the 2005–2006 school year) science, which shall include the same knowledge, skills, and levels of achievement expected of all children. 

(C)  Requirements
Such assessments shall—

 (i) be the same academic assessments used to measure the achievement of all children;

 (ii) be aligned with the State’s challenging academic content and student academic achievement standards, and provide coherent information about student attainment of such standards;

 (iii) be used for purposes for which such assessments are valid and reliable, and be consistent with relevant, nationally recognized professional and technical standards;

 (iv) be used only if the State educational agency provides to the Secretary evidence from the test publisher or other relevant sources that the assessments used are of adequate technical quality for each purpose required under this chapter and are consistent with the requirements of this section, and such evidence is made public by the Secretary upon request;

And the Delaware Code, from Title 14:

§ 173. Data reporting violations.

School districts and individuals shall not:

(1) Fail to report assessment scores, numbers of students administered the assessments any other data element required to be reported to the Department;

(2) Report incorrect or otherwise inaccurate assessment scores, numbers of students administered the assessments or any other data element required to be reported to the Department;

(3) Exclude a student from participation in the state assessment except in accordance with the regulations of the Department;

(4) Refuse to disclose to the Department information concerning a violation of the foregoing data reporting requirements; or

(5) Refuse to cooperate in the investigation of a suspected data reporting violation, whether such investigation is conducted by a school district or the Department. The investigation shall include a review of mitigating circumstances, if applicable.

73 Del. Laws, c. 81, § 1; 78 Del. Laws, c. 53, §§ 42, 43.;

Now who are these individuals?  Does this refer to any parent who opts their child out of Smarter Balanced?  Or do they mean individuals who are employed by the school district?  The next paragraph in the code makes this VERY clear:

§ 174. Civil sanctions for violations.

(a) A student who violates any of the provisions of § 172 of this title shall be subject to the following:

(1) At the discretion of the Department, the assessment score of such student may be invalidated and the student may be declared ineligible to retake the assessment until the next official testing opportunity; and

(2) Such disciplinary action as deemed appropriate by the student’s school district.

(b) An individual other than a student who knowingly violates any of the provisions of this subchapter shall be subject to the following:

(1) Such personnel sanctions as might otherwise be imposed by the individual’s employer for an act of misconduct;

(2) A hearing conducted by the Professional Standards Board to determine revocation of any license issued to such individual pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 12 of this title; and

(3) Payment of any costs incurred by the State or Department as a result of the violation.

73 Del. Laws, c. 81, § 1; 78 Del. Laws, c. 53, § 44.;

As well, the law defines who these individuals are:

(4) ”Individual” means a student, teacher, administrator, local or state school board member, or other employee, agent or contractor employed by the Delaware public school system whether local or at the state level, and including an employee,  agent or contractor of a charter school;

Did you see the word “parent” on that list?  I sure as hell didn’t!  If you are going to cite law, don’t just throw arbitrary paragraphs out there when others ones contradict what you are trying to accomplish.  I don’t think the Professional Standards Board can revoke my license to be a parent.  No one can take away my right to opt my son out as it is currently written in the law.  Once again parents, do not be fooled!

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!

2 thoughts on “Delaware DOE, Stop Bullying & Lying To Parents re: Opt Out With Your Scare Tactic Letter”

  1. Parent Refusal to Student Assessment
    Local education agency guidelines

    The Smarter Balanced assessments are a key part of implementing the Common Core State Standards and preparing all students for success in college and careers. Delaware’s move to the Smarter Balanced assessment system replaces previous tests, offering significant improvements over assessments of the past. The Smarter assessments provide an academic checkup by measuring real-world skills such as critical thinking and problem solving. In addition, through optional formative assessments and a digital resource library and interim item bank, Smarter provides information during the year to give teachers and parents a better picture of where students are succeeding and where they need help.
    In Delaware, the purpose of state testing is to ensure students get the help they need to graduate with the knowledge and skills they need to make the most of their talents. The Delaware Department of Education recognizes state testing as an important part of understanding how schools, districts and the state are doing in educating and preparing students for college and careers. This is the primary way we can know if we are making appropriate progress toward educating students on the academic standards.

    Student testing also helps districts and schools identify if there are specific populations within their school that are behind and may need extra assistance. And state testing helps parents understand how their child is doing in comparison to students in other schools.

    That said, we cannot spend precious student and teacher time on assessments that do not offer this important information. The Delaware Department of Education over the past two years has eliminated some required tests and its switch this year to the Smarter assessments will reduce the number of times students take the state English language arts and mathematics assessments from up to three times a year to only one.

    Background

    There are no provisions in state or federal regulation that allow Delaware to have a system for parents to refuse student assessment. In addition, state and federal laws are clear that there is an expectation that all students will participate in the state assessment system. The only instances in which students can be excluded relate to exemption requests. Only two reasons are allowable for requests for exemptions: extreme medical incidents or for reasons of mental health of the child (each requires documentation from a physician).

    Sate Code: http://delcode.delaware.gov/title14/c001/sc04/index.shtml

    ESEA, Subpart 1, Subsection 1111(b)(3): http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/esea02/pg2.html

    Suggested response

    • When parents contact their schools or districts to request that their children be removed from testing, the school or district administrators should explain to the parents why assessment is important for their children (see language provided above). The administrators also should explain that the districts/charters have no discretion in the matter because federal and state law requires public school students are to be tested.

    • Likewise, when a parents call the Delaware Department of Education to ask if they may refuse testing, state officials should explain to the parents why assessment is important for their children. They also should inform parents that there is no refusal allowed under the law: If the student is enrolled in a Delaware public school, the district or charter is required to administer the assessment to the child. Department staff also should send a copy of the statutory references to the parents.

    • If a parent informs the district or charter that, regardless of the law, the child is not to be tested, the district/charter should get this statement of intent from the parent in writing so that the district/charter can provide a written response, which should cite the regulations and ask the parent to reconsider as it is a violation of the law not to comply (see model letter).

    • If a parent response in writing that he/she has read and understood the district/charter letter but insists that the child not be tested, the district/charter could choose not to test the student, who thus would be counted as “absent” for purposes of testing. This negatively impacts the district/charter’s participation rate.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.