Last night, at the public hearing for Freire Charter School in Wilmington, several citizens from the Midtown Brandywine neighborhood in Wilmington spoke in opposition to the school’s move to the middle of their neighborhood. This group has been protesting since last fall when the school announced the change in location. It was announced by the Assistant Head of Academics last night that Bill Porter, the Head of School for Freire, was removed last week as head of school. This was also talked about at the Charter School Accountability Committee (CSAC) for Freire’s initial formal review meeting last week.
No reasons were cited for Porter’s removal, but at the CSAC meeting, representatives from the school did say he is still with the Freire organization. Two months ago, there was a very awkward conflict with the school’s neighbors in this situation. The police were called, but no charges were pressed.
The controversy concerning Freire doesn’t stop with concerned neighbors. The school’s zero tolerance policy is cited as a specific interest for choice applicants, but in March the school was approved by the State Board of Education to have this removed from their enrollment preference. Up until recently, the school had a “10 Things To Know” page on their website which had the zero tolerance policy and a statement telling parents if their child is not going to college to take them to a different school.
During the CSAC meeting last week, a representative from the school told the committee about their plans for students with disabilities. One of the attendees wrote on their Facebook page:
The CSAC notes are basically correct, though sketchy. They leave out things like, Ms. Davenport’s telephone response re: Freire’s plan for Intense and Complex students was, “We see nothing wrong with sending them over the State line into Chester Couny” to a private special needs school, as is their practice in Philadelphia. Mr. Blowman, wisely, stopped that conversation; and I presume a new, more-informed response will come forward from this ill-prepared school.
I’m not sure sure why this school thinks they could have circumvented around Delaware law with regards to special education, but I certainly hope the CSAC and the Delaware DOE take this arrogance into account when they make their decision.