Big Changes Coming For Delaware Autism Program (DAP) With Senate Bill 92

SenateBill92

Delaware Senator Margaret-Rose Henry introduced Senate Bill 92 today, and it could mean huge changes for the Delaware Autism Program (DAP).  Citing an increase in reported Autism diagnoses in Delaware of 900%, this much-needed legislation will give extra supports and services these children desperately need.  From the official press release given today at Legislative Hall in Dover:

Lawmakers and stakeholders held a press conference Tuesday afternoon announcing legislation that would realign the state’s educational model for students diagnosed with autism by adding services allowing them to be educated in their home schools. The legislation also would create a panel to monitor the latest developments in educating students with autism spectrum disorders and craft policy reflecting those changes.

Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, D-Wilmington South, who co-chaired the Autism Education Task Force with Rep. Earl Jaques, said there was a pressing need for the changes.

“When you look at the sheer numbers, our population of students diagnosed on the autism spectrum has exploded,” she said. “There’s a need to modernize our policies for these students and ensure we’re equipping their teachers, families and the agencies who assist them, with the best possible information.”

Currently, there are about 1,500 students diagnosed with autism in Delaware’s public schools. That’s up nearly 900 percent over the 152 students diagnosed with autism in 1992, when an initial statewide autism program was first established.

Please read the proposed legislation below:

And as I reported earlier, only it didn’t have a bill number attached to it yet, Senate Bill 93, creating the Delaware Interagency Committee for Autism and the Delaware Network for Excellence in Autism:

Delaware School Board Election Results

I will be updating this through the night as information comes in.  Nothing official from the county election websites yet.  Down in Laurel School District, Frank Calio is reporting a victory for incumbent Brent Nichols, defeating Kim Trivits 288-168.  If you get any information, please email me at kevino3670@yahoo.com from now until the official results are released.

Update 8:34pm: nothing yet…

8:36pm: I’m hearing Michelle Myers Wall won in Appoquinimink, but nothing official.

8:42: A direct source informed me Earle Dempsey and Andrea Miller won in Lake Forest.

8:52: Hearing Kristin Pidgeon and Karen Gordon won in Brandywine, and Jason Bradley and Roni Posner in Cape Henlopen.

9:05pm: hearing unofficially Ralph Taylor won in Capital by 11 votes.

9:10: Gilefski in Woodbridge

9:16pm: Martin Wilson defeated Alfred Lance, 291-264, unofficial…

9:17pm: Ralph Taylor confirming win in Capital…

9:25pm: Cape Gazette confirming victories for Posner and Bradley in Cape Henlopen

9:34pm: Delaware Department of Elections showing unofficial results for Kent County-

Capital: Taylor 336, Paylor 325, Servon 74

Lake Forest: Dempsey 356, Brode 176; and Miller 421, Auen 94

Milford: Dennehy 386, Evans 149, DelRossi 44

9:39pm: Department of Elections showing unofficial for New Castle County

Appoquinimink: Myers-Wall 609, Harrington 216, Christian 117, Greathouse 94, Weller 26, Scott 24

Brandywine: Pidgeon 1,000, Kirksey 163; and Gordon 995 Hanby 270

Colonial: Kennedy 140, Pierce 93

Red Clay: Wilson 291, Lance 264

Once the results are official by the Delaware Department of Elections, I will make it official!

Ex-Academy of Dover Head Noel Rodriguez Has Potential Personal Purchases On Full Display

The Delaware Department of Education is definitely being very transparent when it comes to Academy of Dover. So much so that they are actually posting charge statements from various vendors.  I would imagine at this point the Charter School Office is under a lot of scrutiny in regards to their oversight of charter schools.  I do believe they serve a purpose, but I just wish they would catch this stuff sooner.

On April 30, Academy of Dover’s board of directors submitted a set of documents to the Department of Education. These documents included copies of statements for credit cards and accounts held by the school since the 2011-12 school year, including accounts with Home Depot, Lowes, Staples, and Sam’s Club. The Charter School Office has identified a set of statements documenting purchases that may have been made by the former school leader for personal use. Those statements have been added to the record.

•Selection of Documents Submitted
◦Home Depot
◦JP Morgan
◦Lowes
◦Sam’s Club
◦Staples

You can actually view the statements on this DOE website.  Meanwhile, their board is having an emergency board meeting tonight.  And tomorrow is the big day with the Charter School Accountability Committee meeting.  I’m sure there will be fireworks at that one!  In the meantime, I pray parents are able to find solace with this school.  Because at the end of the day, it should be about the students at the school, not the adults who misbehave.

Providence Creek Academy Responds To DOE About State Auditor Investigation

Providence Creek Academy wrote a response to the Delaware Department of Education’s Charter School Office about their charter school renewal. While they did not give any clarifying information about what is being reviewed by State Auditor Tom Wagner’s office, they did confirm some “transactions” are under scrutiny. Sounds like a charter school hat trick in less than six months with questionable purchases a school made. Why does the DOE have no one monitoring this stuff? Why does it only come up at charter school renewals or when it becomes so big they don’t know how to handle it?

I love the part in the letter that failed to mention what caused all the “turmoil” among the staff and the board of directors. How ironic that the very same head of school that “resigned” a couple years previous is able to fill the role of “interim” head of school. I would say that worked out rather well for him. Oh yeah, and Chuck Taylor is also the President of the Delaware Charter School Network’s governing board. The very same board that former Family Foundations Academy head of school Sean Moore used to be on as treasurer. And look at that, Providence Creek Academy also had a board member who was a treasurer resign. This should be an adventure watching this charter renewal! Stephen Esmond, the former headmaster of Tatnall Middle School in Wilmington, was chosen for the PCA Head of School position, but unfortunately he was the victim of an alleged poisoning in the Virgin Islands and is still under heavy medical care.

Providence Creek Academy Also Under Review By Delaware State Auditor

As highlighted in the below letter, Providence Creek Academy is also having the State Auditor’s office looking into their finances. This would be the third charter school in Delaware to have this publicly announced in less than six months. I posted an article not even two weeks ago where the State Auditor’s office did confirm they are reviewing other charters aside from the publicly known Academy of Dover and Family Foundations Academy. Now we have a third. How many more are there and why isn’t this public knowledge?

Of particular interest in this school is the fact they switched to the same independent auditor that Family Foundations Academy used for their annual audit last year. I pointed it out back in December, and it looks like Tom Wagner’s office noticed it too. Providence Creek Academy, along with Campus Community School and MOT Charter are up for charter renewal in the 2015-2016 school year.

It has become obvious the Delaware Department of Education knows what schools are under review by the State Auditor’s office. They need to disclose all of this information to the public instead of releasing this information piecemeal. It’s not just certain Delaware charter schools with issues of transparency, it’s also the Delaware DOE Charter School Office.

Senate Bill Would Create Interagency Committee for Autism & DE Network for Excellence in Autism

The Autism Task Force recently completed their findings, and new legislation which will be introduced later today will create two new entities for tackling issues of autism.  Sponsored by Delaware Senator Margaret-Rose Henry, the bill would create the Interagency Committee for Autism and the Delaware Network for Excellence in Autism