Academy of Dover State Audit Report Released! State Board of Education & Murphy Should Revoke Their Charter!!!

“A clear and consistent message is needed from all state agencies about fiscal accountability over all charter school funds including local funds.”

Delaware State Auditor Tom Wagner’s office released their report on Academy of Dover, and it is much worse than anyone thought.  Here are the highlights:

-Academy of Dover has no contract with their financial management organization, Innovative Schools, which could set up another legal situation for them…

-For three years, Rodriguez used $127,866 in school funds for personal use, the state was unable to determine if ANOTHER $129,458 was for school or personal use…

-The school had a sexual harassment lawsuit in which they settled, costing the school out-of-pocket over $36,000 in legal fees and over $97,000 in insurance funds.  This was due to Noel Rodriguez, the former principal…

-Academy of Dover kept allowing Rodriguez to use his cell phone until March 2015 even though he resigned in October 2014, added an additional $1,696 in charges…

-Academy of Dover’s average class size is 19 to 1, drastically lower than most traditional school districts, but the average student to adult ratio is 10 to 1…

-In trying to seek guidance on the overall purpose of the Delaware Charter Schools Network, the organization did not respond to that request…

-During the three year spending spree, there was no oversight from any of the following organizations: Academy of Dover, their board, DOE, Charter School Accountability Committee, Division of Accounting, independent auditors or Innovative Schools…

-Rodriguez had a “special relationship”, according to the below report, with a music teacher. As well, he treated employees to Happy Hour numerous times, reimbursed them for alcohol purchases, and gave bonuses to teachers with NO board approval…

“Charter schools consistently receive instruction from DOE, Division of Accounting (DOA), and OMB that they may use their local funds as they deem appropriate, which is inconsistent with laws and regulations.”

The below document, produced by Delaware State Auditor Tom Wagner, is a sickening and disgusting look at over three years of taxpayer funds going towards one man’s addiction to material items.  We know from last week’s House Education Committee meeting, seven Delaware charter schools are under review by the State Auditor.  It is time to wake up Delaware, and change this system of fraud and abuse.  Starting with the DOE, because based on what I’m seeing in this report, Academy of Dover needs to be shut down.  They had zero oversight over Rodriguez for over three years.  And they continued to give him special privileges with a cell phone after he “resigned”.  Their probation needs to be revoked and Rodriguez should be arrested for openly violating state law and regulation!

Why do we continue to allow organizations like the Delaware Charter Schools Network have any say on legislation that would protect our students and taxpayers from this sort of waste and abuse, but they refuse to answer questions about their very purpose to a state auditor’s office?

House Bill 50’s Wild Ride In The House Passes With New Amendment, Back To The Senate….

After a crazy failure for House Bill 50, the legislation was reconsidered with the originally failed House Amendment #2, which passed the second time around, and then the whole bill passed.  Now it goes back to the Senate.  Trust me, I’m confused, but maybe this will help.  Timeline time:

House Bill 50 timeline:

3/12/15: Introduced by Rep. John Kowalko and Senator Dave Lawson

4/22/15: House Education Committee releases bill from committee, brings it to full House Vote

5/7/15: House Amendment #1 added by Rep. Sean Matthews removing “state assessment” and changing it to just “Smarter Balanced Assessment”, passes House

6/11/15: Senate Education Committee releases bill from committee for full Senate vote

6/17/15: Senator David Sokola adds Senate Amendment #1, changing “Smarter Balanced Assessment” to all “state assessments and district-wide assessments”, passes Senate

6/17/15: Senator Bryan Townsend adds Senate Amendment #2, allowing high school juniors to opt-out of the assessment, passes Senate

6/17/15: Senate passes House Bill 50, but because two amendments were added, it goes back to the House

6/23/15: Rep. Jeff Spiegelman introduces House Amendment #2 which takes away Townsend’s Senate Amendment #2, fails to get enough votes

6/23/15: House Bill 50 fails 2nd House vote, bill is dead

6/23/15: Rep. Spiegelman asks for reconsideration of vote on House Bill 50 under Delaware House of Representatives House Rule #41, House passes motion

6/23/15: House passes House Amendment #2

6/23/15: House passes House Bill 50 again

Now it goes back to the Senate.  Whether it will be heard by next Tuesday or if it extends it until January when the 148th General Assembly is back in session is unknown.  But what I do know is this.  I blame all of this on three people: Rep. Earl Jaques, Senator David Sokola, and Senator Bryan Townsend.  They have played games with this bill and do not care about parents.  And from what I’m hearing Senator Colin Bonini had quite the chuckle after the bill originally failed in the House today.  These are legislators who really don’t care about parents or their rights.  I resisted Spiegelman’s amendment at first cause I just wanted it to pass, but he is absolutely right.  He brought up a point I didn’t think of: what if the junior wants to opt out but the parents don’t want him to?  That would set up some very thorny issues for all involved: student, parent, teacher, school, district, and even the state.  So thank you for your wisdom on this one Rep. Spiegelman!

Our no votes on the 2nd House vote today are as follows: Dukes, Gray, Heffernan, Jaques and Q. Johnson.  Not voting were Barbieri and Bolden.  So all the no votes or absents are the same from the original House vote last month, except for the additions of Gray, Heffernan and Q. Johnson.  What made them flip?

For the 2nd vote on the House Amendment, only Dukes voted no and Barbieri and Bolden didn’t vote.  Three reps had left so there were three absent.

If I were any Delaware parent (I am), I would be absolutely livid at the games being played with this bill.  Shame on Jaques, Sokola and Townsend for not caring enough about parents to even ask them about their bill-killing plans prior to their attempted hijackings.  If I were Townsend, I might want to reconsider that run for Congress.  You ticked off A LOT of voters tonight.

House Bill 50 Vote Rescinded!!!! Up For A Vote Again!!! Passes 31 Yes, 5 No, 2 Absent, 3 not voting.

House Representative Jeff Spiegelman introduced a motion to reconsider House Bill 50.  Kowalko is clarifying for Schwartzkopf.  This is allowed under House Rule 41.  Most say aye for reconsideration, a few no votes heard.

They have to redo the vote for House Amendment #2.  They are going to keep it alive by voting for House Amendment #2.  34 yes on House Amendment #2 to strike Townsend’s Senate Amendment #2.

Doing the roll call for HB 50 again.  Vast majority of yes votes.  It will pass.  Back to the Senate again…keeps it alive until January unless the Senate votes now.  31 yes, 5 nos, 2 absent, 3 not voting…

House Bill 50 Fails The 2nd House Vote… 18 Yes Votes Not Enough For 21 Majority! This Is The Senate’s Fault!

These are the votes for HB50 today in the Delaware House.  Remember these no votes and not voting Delaware parents.  And remember Senator Sokola and Bryan Townsend’s role in this as well.  I will make you aware of all their dealing with this.

Barbieri X J. Johnson Y Peterman A
Baumbach Y Q. Johnson N Potter Y
Bennett Y Keeley Y Ramone A
Bolden N Kenton N B. Short Y
Brady Y Kowalko Y D. Short N
Briggs King N Longhurst X M. Smith Y
Carson Y Lynn Y Smyk N
Collins Y Matthews Y Spiegelman N
Dukes N Miro N Viola A
Gray N Mitchell Y K. Williams Y
Heffernan N Mulrooney Y Wilson N
Hensley N Osienski Y Yearick X
Hudson X Outten N Schwartzkopf N
Jaques N Paradee Y

House Bill 50 2nd Vote In Legislative Hall Happening NOW!!!! House Bill 50 DEAD!

The Delaware House of Representatives have been in meetings since 2:40pm.  I am not there, but a friend and Delaware PTA member is there.  The room is filling up, and the legislators are walking in.  I am waiting for the audio to come up on http://legis.delaware.gov website…

I’m hearing the House Republicans want to add an amendment to get rid of Senator Bryan Townsend’s Senate Amendment #2, allowing high school juniors to opt-out of the state assessment.

They have covered items #1, 2, 4 & 5 on the agenda and skipped right over House Bill 50…

House Bill 148 passed the House so if Markell signs this bill, the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission will be created.  I have no doubt Markell will sign this bill…

Not sure if they received it, but I just emailed the House reps not to add another amendment to remove another amendment.  Based on DOE belief, the whole point of all this standardized testing is to improve our PISA scores.  If the last grade they take this is 10th grade, what’s the point of stopping juniors from opting out? Thanks to you-know-who for this very quick info!

A massive thunderstorm is getting ready to roll into Dover… not sure if this will change the itinerary at Leg. Hall.  This is like a Night At The Roxbury with this bill!

Wrong! HB50 is now up!  Jeff Spiegelman is offering an amendment!  Jeff, don’t do it!  The amendment is being read by Pete Schwartzkopf.  It’s being read now. “House Amendment #2 strips the bill of Senate Amendment #2”.  “I’m not sure it’s appropriate for a minor to opt themselves out if it is against the wishes of the parent.” “I’m not sure if that’s the route the state wants to go out with this test.”  Kowalko is talking: “This bill still allows a parent the rights to opt-out.”  “If this bill goes back to the Senate, it’s dead.”  Right on Kowalko!

They are voting on the amendment.  Far too many yes votes right now… Not looking good…lots of no votes at the end.  No votes changing their minds.  18 Yes, 21 No!  Amendment is dead!

Mike Ramone is railing against Kowalko over the amendment.  “It is unacceptable and rude.”  “It is irresponsible.”  Wants them to put the bill back how it was and get it going again in January.  Jaques is going back to the Senate Amendment #1.  “Does that mean no child will be tested in our schools?”  Jaques, you colluded with Sokola on all of this.  You are just as guilty of that amendment and you are trying to kill the bill.

Roll Call:

17 yes votes….

House Bill 50 is dead!

Oregon Governor Kate Brown Signs Opt-Out Legislation Into Law!!!! Will Markell Have The Same Bravery?

Oregon’s House Bill 2655, which allows a parent to opt their child out of standardized assessments, was signed into law today by Democrat Governor Kate Brown.  This bill mandates schools notify parents of their rights to opt-out, provides instructional time for students not taking the test, and provides two school rating systems: those with the opt-out numbers factoring in and ones without.

Today, the Delaware House of Representatives will meet after they get out of caucus, and their own opt-out bill is 3rd on the agenda for today.  Governor Jack Markell has given a ho-hum “I don’t like this bill” and may veto it.  It is not necessarily true, as reported by the News Journal, if the legislators could override the bill.  Timing would be crucial as their legislative sessions ends on June 30th until mid-January of 2016.  Unless they meet again after the session ends to cover an override, which I don’t see happening, the veto could stick.

Rest In Peace James Horner, Your Music Will Live Forever

A couple weeks ago, I wrote an article called “A Gift of a Thistle”.  That title was based on the second track from the Braveheart score.  The composer of this music, along with hundreds of other movies, died in a plane crash yesterday in Southern California.

To say James Horner changed my perspectives on life would be an understatement.  His music always brings me to places where my deepest thoughts live.  It’s a shame we won’t hear his masterpieces in the future, but the music he will be composing now will be out of our ability to understand or even contemplate.  I’m sure he is already assembling hosts of angels and creating heavenly masterpieces.

I will always treasure his scores on Braveheart, Legends of the Fall, Titanic, A Beautiful Mind, Avatar, Field of Dreams, Glory, Dad, Aliens, and so many more.  Rest in peace James…

Polls: Do You Think Smarter Balanced Is Effective? Do You Think Parents Should Have The Right To Opt-Out?

The smell of death

The Qwiet Muse

PoisonBottle040513To be honest, I don’t know just when the death occurred. Poison is funny like that. I suppose if you knew the precise moment the lethal element was partaken of it would be easier. Yes. It certainly would have been easier.

I didn’t want to be witness to the deed though, so I chose the sneaky and sinister route. Perhaps it could be considered cowardly even, but my reasoning seemed sound enough, and I seriously doubt the poison I was offering would have been accepted anyway, not from my hand.

I left it, disguised and concealed; certain it was appealing enough to be devoured. It was. I know that now. My plan worked perfectly, at least I thought it did, before the smell. I hadn’t planned on him hiding once he felt what he had to have known was death tiptoeing toward his heart. Maybe this is his revenge.

It was…

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