Charter School of Wilmington Story Still Has Many Questions About Due Process And Discrimination Left Unanswered

CSWStudent just wrote a comment on the CSW story that really showed me a different picture of the school:

Some important things that this article ignores.

Firstly, the description of the distribution of ethnicity at Charter vs. the demographic of Wilmington, DE. The Charter School of Wilmington conducts its admittance based on an entrance exam. This exam is open to everyone, including the entire eight grade population of Wilmington. As a current student at CSW, it is to the best of my knowledge that there is a very slim number of the city of Wilmington residents that even apply to the school. This could likely be because students in the city may not feel like they have received an education that adequately prepares them for the rigor of CSW, which presents a new problem entirely. The education of Wilmington during the middle school years needs to be boosted and improved to a level where the students from that demographic can excel in the environment that CSW supports.

CSW is not a school for everyone. What makes it so special to me is the drive and motivation that every student there possesses. I am one of four kids from my middle school that was accepted at CSW. We applied, were accepted, and excel because we take the extra step, we attend seminars, we do extracurriculars. It has nothing to do with discrimination. If you meet the standards of the school, you have as good a chance as ANYONE else to get in.

Similar to the student in this article, I am not the general mold that you describe. I live out of the Red Clay School District, I don’t “comb my hair to the side”, and I take the bus every day as a senior (I would love a pick-up truck). I know the student who this article is mentioning, and I disagree in describing him as a minority who doesn’t fit in. I personally like him, and he has always been a popular, well known member of the community.

I love the Charter School of Wilmington. It has presented me with varying challenges that push my boundaries, and I have used the opportunities presented to me to push myself and learn all that I can. Articles like this slander the name and reputation of a school that provides an incredible environment for exceptional and unique students. I have never once seen any form of discrimination, and personally am upset by these accusations.

To which I responded:

Thank you for your comments CSW student. I think your comments do more to prove my point about selective student enrollment than anything I could have ever written. I never said the student didn’t fit in. CSW should be a school for everyone. I attended an Enrollment Preference Task Force meeting discussing the very idea of placement tests as a method of enrollment. It was overwhelmingly agreed by all but 2-3 people on this task force of about 20 members, that any placement test should be given AFTER a student was accepted. You wrote “this article slanders a school that provides an incredible environment for exceptional and unique students”. Would you like to know who else has exceptional and unique students? The rest of Delaware. In fact, the term “exceptional” in Delaware typically means students with disabilities, of which CSW has .2% of their students on an IEP. The discrimination happens before a student ever gets through the door there. By picking these “exceptional and unique students” the discrimination has already been committed.

Furthermore, your comments show exactly why CSW has the “reputation” it does as an outstanding school. Which is causing me to rethink some things. This article proves CSW may keep certain people out of the school but they can’t keep everyday problems out of the school. But they sure can do their best to cover it up to make everything look pretty on the outside. You have inspired me for my next article. Thank you.

I posted earlier today about a fact that was not given to me until after I posted my article on Sunday.  In examining this fact, it may not be the overall “smoking gun” it appears to be.  There are still several questions about due process on the school’s part that have not been answered to my satisfaction.  So I will challenge the Charter School of Wilmington to reach out to me to present those facts.  Because here’s the bottom line: no matter what evidence the school thinks they had, did they follow state code and law in determining guilt or innocence?  Was their coercion involved?  Why did they not notify the police right away?  Why did the police wait 23 days to make an arrest which just happened to be the student’s 18th birthday?  Where is the paperwork involved with this incident?  Can the school provide any of this paperwork?  Why did they wait so long to report it to the DOE when state law says they have to submit it within two business days?  Would they have reported it had the mother not already called the DOE and found out there was NO reporting of the incident?  Did the school make their “deal” of suspension with services and no walking at graduation or expulsion to all four of the students involved?  Can they legally make “deals” like that?  How many “deals” have they performed without public knowledge?  Are they aware this greatly affects public impressions of their school by skewing the data involved when parents seek out schools for their children?  Did they follow state law for search and seizure? Were they allowed to search through a student’s cell phone and open up apps?  Was there involvement by the Board of Directors during any of this process?

I’ve received many comments from folks who I believe to have strong ties with Charter School of Wilmington.  They are all anonymous.  They have asked me to prove one case of discrimination against the school.  Look at their demographics.  It may be legal in Delaware, but don’t think it doesn’t spit in the face of every single Title I, IDEA and civil rights law in the country.  This is a charter school pretending to be a private school, and Delaware has allowed this for seventeen years.  We can all sit here and pretend they are the best school in the state, but let’s not forget how they got there.

As for Bill and his mother, were mistakes made, yes.  I even made some mistakes with this story.  But when does one story become bigger than the individuals involved and the heart of it becomes a systemic issue within the school?  In my opinion, if the school is concealing information with regards to incidents happening there, then they are allowing these incidents to happen in the first place.  And then they want to complain when one mother wants to stand up and fight this system?  In my eyes, no matter what Bill did, concealing incidents at a school and giving students and parents a “Sophie’s Choice” with discipline is manipulative and deceitful.  Is it to protect the students or is it to cover their own ass?

**Updated**5/20/15, 10:13pm: I do not expect CSW to provide documentation to me concerning this incident.  What I do hope to see is this issue seeing the light of day in regards to due process, and as a result of that, this documentation would be seen by someone who would be able to render a legal decision on due process in this case.

10 thoughts on “Charter School of Wilmington Story Still Has Many Questions About Due Process And Discrimination Left Unanswered

  1. Just curious what are you suggesting the state/DOE do to fix the issues you point out with Charter? (Outside this drug incident) You do a lot of complaining/waning about all that is wrong with this school but based on nationally rankings the school is succeeding. I have met people that have moved into the Red Clay school district just so their kids have a better chance of getting into Charter. It’s no secret that Charter is a great school academically.

    Are you suggesting they change the rigor of the academics so more kids can be accepted? Do you think it solves anything by shutting down such a successful school? Should they just forgo the process to qualify for acceptance completely? You seem to be caught up on the fact that Charter is not for everyone so it’s somehow unfair but is DMA? Or Conrad? Or Cab? They aren’t “Charter Schools” but from what I’ve read Cab is much more difficult to “get into” then any other school in the district. Why are the arts allowed to exclude those that don’t perform to the standard the school requires but the sciences are not?

    I know many Charter parents who have a student attending while there siblings go else where and more times then not it’s not because they didn’t qualify but because another school fit their future/present goals better.

    I feel like your hell bent on defaming a school that is full of students and teachers committed to succeeding at the highest level without offering any solutions that wouldn’t be a detriment to those students.

    I have many years before choosing the right high school for my kids comes into play but I do hope schools like Cab, CSW, and DMA continue to exist and improve to give my kids options to find the right fit for their goals if there feeder school does not.

    It’s clear to me you are not open to other options outside of your own other then to tell people why they are wrong or are actually proving your point; so I’m not trying to change your mind about how you feel about Charter but I don’t think it’s fair to spout off about what isn’t working (for you) without some solution based suggestions.

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    • Trust me, I have the same issues with Cab and Conrad as well. I’m not exclusively against these practices with Charter School of Wilmington. I just believe in equity for all, and it has become more apparent than ever how messed up this practice has become for schools in Wilmington. I don’t believe some schools should shine while others suffer as a result, like the priority schools in Wilmington. Trust me, I understand the need for parents wanting to get their children into a good school, but I think schools and corporate interests have turned that into something that shouldn’t be and are taking advantage of it. I’m in the middle of the state, and we don’t see this insane competition for schools the way Wilmington does. You speak about the detriment to the students that go there while ignoring the detriment it already has on students that go to other schools. I believe in choice, but only if it’s on a level playing field. As for CSW, when other states see how charters played out in Delaware, they are shocked. I know I can’t convince you and the other CSW, Cab and Conrad supporters out there because you are looking out for your own kids. I get that. But I’m looking at the big picture, outside of individual interests.

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      • Do you really think other schools are suffering because schools like Conrad, CSW and Cab are succeeding? First let me say most Red Clay schools are very good but I think schools like DMA, Cab, CSW were created to provide options that didn’t already exist they didn’t cause the demise of others. I believe more time should be put in making the less successful schools better then trying to make proven successful schools more accommodating to a student that may not thrive in that respective environment. Look at Dickenson for example there enrollment was down for years but now due to the introduction of the IB program (a program you have to qualify for) they have introduced a very successful way better the school.
        I am often overwhelmed and greatful with the abundance of great choices but I do recognize the need for improvement. I just fail to see how that can be done when we are focusing on fixating on the schools that are working.

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        • The original intent for those schools may have been paved with the best of intentions, but over the long-term, in the BIG picture, it has not helped education in Delaware. Sure, it has helped those students, but what about all the other ones left behind? It all comes down to money, and if more money is going to “innovative schools” as opposed to the “regular” schools, things will be lost. Look at Christina right now, fighting for their referendum while Red Clay gets a very easy pass. I know there are other issues there, but there is much more political and corporate interests at work here.

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  2. Kids that don’t want to work as hard as others should definitely be placed into schools with kids that do.

    That makes sense, I’m glad I read your articles and these comments.

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    • Who said these kids don’t want to work hard? That is a very elitist statement and quite snobby. I will continue to fight for those kids. You and your ilk, I have no time for. Grow up!

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      • Again are you saying EVERY student should be allowed into a school such as Charter (or Cab)? Saying one student works harder then another isn’t nessesasrily elitist, harsh perhaps, but not always untrue. (I hope it’s usually untrue but the reality is there are kids that are ok with “just getting by” ) They question I’ve yet to see answered is how do you want to fix the problem?

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        • You asked, you shall receive. 1) Get rid of the placement tests BEFORE enrollment and the specific interest. It is insulting to the Feds and any guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Education. You are not a private school. 2) Stop asking about certain things on the applications like “Does your child have an IEP/504 plan”, 3) Actually save your applications so when the Office of Civil Rights asks for them for the last two years you don’t have your buddies at the Delaware Charter School Network say “Oh, they didn’t know they were required to keep them”, 4) Stop bragging about having the best scores in the state when the ONLY reason you have them is because the system CSW and others like them have designed it to only get the “best” students in the geographic area, 5) Rinse and repeat. Cause at the end of the day, you are only the best school if you rig the game to be the best school. This wouldn’t fly in most states. The fact that it does in Delaware shows how very backwards we are in this respect. My God, this school has 6% African-Americans in WILMINGTON, DELAWARE! Do these things, wait a few years, and then tell me how great your school is. I’m not okay with kids just getting by, never have been, never will. But to judge a school based on asinine standardized test scores is ludicrous, and that glass house is shattering fast. Only when your school is on the same level playing field as ALL schools and you get local, state and federal funding the same way every school does, and your school continues to achieve the same results will I ever say CSW is the best school. Until then, it’s just window dressing.

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        • I want to start by saying that I personally am an advocate for a lot of the charters in the Wilmington area, but the attitudes of Justpassingthru and RationalStudent exemplify why people have an issue with the Charter School of Wilmington. I disagree with Kevin on many things and have even participated in his “Correct the Blogger” challenge in the past, but his comment below that starts with “you asked, you shall receive” is spot on. Having a placement test before enrollment is a huge red flag because, as he said, this is not a private school. Charter schools SHOULD be created and sustained by serving the needs of THEIR COMMUNITY, ideally using learning models models that traditional schools can’t or won’t use. I don’t doubt that CSW has an excellent math and science program, but many traditional schools do as well. CSW is really not doing anything that other schools aren’t doing, they are just doing it with ONLY the “top students.”

          People who truly care about educational equity in their community believe that all children can succeed and be taught given the right environments and supports, but CSW’s enrollment practices basically say they are not wiling or able to support those who are not already testing in the very high percentile of students. Having a charter school in Wilmington that has demographics SO different from the city of Wilmington is a MAJOR problem. I have met with staff from CSW before about the school opening its doors to a more diverse student population and I have had staff look me in the eye and say “We are diverse, we are over 15% Asian.” “Diversity” does not mean “one non-white race or ethnicity at your school.” It means MANY different groups, and it is NOT just limited to race and ethnicity. In some Wilmington charter schools it can be difficult to achieve ideal levels of diversity because often times the schools mirror the demographics of the city, but CSW does not even do that which is an even bigger problem than those schools who are mostly made up of minority students. I have attended open houses at CSW with potential students and I understand that CSW students work EXTREMELY hard for their success; the classes they are taking and the projects they are required to do are very impressive – my problem is not that CSW exists or that their expectations are high, it is that it is set up in such a way to only admit a specific type of student. Why shouldn’t all students have access to this type of program if it is really so great?

          I will end by saying that it is ridiculous for people who are sticking up for CSW to try to throw Cab, DMA, Conrad, and other schools under the bus in the same breath. People like me who are against CSW’s enrollment processes are well aware of which other schools have equally, if not more, discriminatory practices. (Although in my opinion, DMA should not even be a part of this conversation because that is a VERY different situation as a military-focused program has a whole other set of rules and regulations that I would imagine are very similar to the actual military.) We know Cab and other schools are discriminatory as well, but it is interesting for pro-CSW people to point that out – FYI, it doesn’t help your case.

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          • I assume you are referring to me when I brought Cab, DMA or Conrad into the conversation. I don’t have any interest in further engaging a debate about my “rediculous comment” but I wanted to say that I am not “Pro” Charter or Con for that matter I’m a parent trying to get other perspectives. Which is why I “asked for it” I was trying to understand how someone that wasn’t happy with the system thought it could be fixed. The response made several good points.

            Furthermore, I was lumping the schools together because I don’t see the issues of enrollment being any different for those schools, and the author agreed. My point was ALL those schools were succeeding and I would like to see the focus be put on fixing the issues in the schools that aren’t succeeding then being so caught up on the ones that are.

            At no time was I trying to “make a case” I was just trying to better understand the author of the articles perspective.

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