My Public Comment for Family Foundations Academy, Emailed to DE DOE Charter School Office

Tomorrow is the deadline for public comment on the charter renewal for Family Foundations Academy.  The Delaware Department of Education will accept public comment until the end of the day.  Please email them or go to the DOE website and look under  infocso@doe.k12.de.us

I have gone ahead and emailed my public comment, and I will let you all see it:

Dear Secretary of Education Mark Murphy,

Since the news broke in the media about Family Foundations Academy on December 12th on Kilroy’s Delaware, I have investigated this charter school extensively. I have found many of the same financial inconsistencies the auditor Auphsite Consulting found, and perhaps some more. We shall see when Delaware State Auditor Tom Wagner’s office finishes their audit. The vast amount of state money being spent by the two heads of school is disgusting and abhorrent. Schools are not administration’s personal ATM machine. For this reason alone, I find it impossible to understand how the board of this school did not know this was happening for all these years.

The fact that so much of the Board was made up of fraternity brothers from the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity shows such a vile conflict of interest that is beyond insane. I have heard from many people via email or comments on my blog and they have shared stories with me. Many of them I have not printed because they are the worst stories that can be told about children. Some of the stories I have shared have included the following: cheating on DCAS testing, many relationships happening among professionals at the school, teachers not receiving state raises, administration asking teachers to donate part of their pay, and much more.

The one article I wrote which bothered me the most was the child with a 504 plan who was discussed during an open public board meeting. The minutes for it can be found here:

http://www.familyfoundationsacademy.org/ourpages/auto/2014/10/16/35343210/2014-12-02%20-%20Board%20Meeting%20Minutes.pdf

During this meeting the exact action of the student with the 504 was discussed. While the minutes state the child was never mentioned by name, written records in your complaints indicate the child was named and a commenter on my blog indicated this as well. This is a complete violation of everything special education is supposed to be. This child has rights, and something like this should have been handled in the board’s executive session, not in an open forum.  It is not only a violation of the child’s Section 504 rights under The Office Of Civil Rights, it is also a FERPA violation to discuss a child’s disability during a public meeting like this.  Even if the child was not identified, the traits that were discussed in the board minutes make this poor child easily identifiable.

I have also heard from a few teachers that a special education student that received a 4 on both the Math and English/Language Arts DCAS test during the 2013-2014 school year recently transferred to their local public school district from Family Foundations Academy. This district is dumbfounded as to how this child could have done so remarkably well on DCAS when the child cannot read.  So how do we truly know if this school did as well with the academic performance framework?  We don’t.

I have read all the public comments the parents have submitted, and while I appreciate them, it seems there is a rot in the foundation of this school. I don’t know if it can be removed, but how many children have been victims of the games this school has played? How many children are years behind and parents are oblivious to this fact because they are simply going by DCAS scores to determine the educational proficiency of their child?

I am not sure what your decision will be on this Secretary Murphy, but I know these children deserve better. The deceptiveness that has occurred at this school is beyond measure. I sincerely hope all of the past misdeeds of this school will come out so parents know exactly what has happened there.  While I have no child there, and I don’t even live in the county where this school resides, it reflects poorly on the reputation of Delaware schools that events of this magnitude could occur for years with no one the wiser.

While many parents are calling for the reinstatement of Dr. Tennell Brewington, I do not feel this would be a wise decision on the school’s part.  She was half of the main problems there, and she needs to carry half the responsibility for the problems that happened under her watch.

No matter what happens, this shows a need for recording of all school board meetings in the state of Delaware so the public can have a chance to hear what exactly goes on at these meetings. As well, a greater oversight of the financial transactions of all schools in Delaware, especially charter schools, needs to happen now.  While other decisions on priority schools are being weighed at this time as well, it might be prudent to take a look at the whole nature of judging schools by standardized test scores.  If a school can cheat on these tests, it can throw the entire state off in terms of proficiency.  Until it can be proven that NO school has done this, these test scores should not be used for anything.  I have to believe that most educators would never stoop so low as to allow this to happen, but if there is even a very small shadow of a doubt, we owe our students more than this.

Thank you,

Kevin Ohlandt

Since there are now allegations of standardized test cheating going on, it would look very foolish on Mark Murphy’s part to keep this school open and not accept the MOUs from Christina and Red Clay Consolidated School District.

 

3 thoughts on “My Public Comment for Family Foundations Academy, Emailed to DE DOE Charter School Office

  1. As I mentioned before I taught at FFA for four years & now teach in a DE district school. During my four years as a teacher there I was not aware of any cheating on state testing. Obviously this is not something one goes around talking about if they permitted it to happen; I’m just saying I never heard any inkling about it.
    I will say I’m certain you cannot believe all that has been reported to you. In an earlier post you said something about a tutoring service that worked at the school only on Saturdays and only certain people did the tutoring (I’m trying to remember from your earlier post so sorry if I have this wrong). Anyway as a teacher after school a couple nights a week I worked for this tutoring service & I wasn’t part of the fraternity that I believe you said was running it. Not that it matters but I’m caucasian and obviously not part of that fraternity.
    Yes I thought it was very weird and wrong that the school board was filling up with Mr. Moore’s fraternity friends but no one knew what to do about that because if teachers questioned things usually they were let go.
    I agree Dr. Brewington should not be reinstated. I know Amy Novosel one of the interim leaders; she is a fine, professional leader and she would not allow any of the past foolishness continue. I just hope it’s not too late for FFA. I think the school should be allowed to renew it’s charter and not be punished for the stupidity, arrogance and selfishness of FFA’s two former leaders.

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  2. I heard many of the things I have posted by multiple sources who don’t even know each other. Both parents and teachers have reached out to me about this school. Nobody ever wants a school to close down, but sometimes things get so convoluted there may be little choice. I have no clue what the DOE State Board and Murphy will decide, but I would hope they have the interests of the students foremost in their mind.

    You are right, you shouldn’t always believe everything you hear. That goes for the parents at this school. They were fooled for years, and yet I see them all supporting the school. That concerns me because if they were fooled once, they can be again. And while any member of the board is still there from the old regime, I just can’t throw caution to the wind and support them.

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