My Email To Kendall Massett With Delaware Charter Schools Network Over The Scandals & Fraud In Delaware Charter Schools

  • Today at 10:23 PM
To
  • kendallm@decharternetwork.org

Dear Kendall,

I am the writer of Exceptional Delaware, and I would like to know why your organization is objecting to House Bill 186 and other legislation that would provide the essential oversight Delaware charter schools so desperately need.  This isn’t about protecting the finances of these schools, it is about making sure the students in these schools get the best education possible. 

What is occurring in so many of our schools: Academy of Dover, Family Foundations Academy, Providence Creek Academy, Odyssey Charter, Thomas Edison and others is a direct result of financial mismanagement, boards not properly trained in oversight, and allowing administrators to cut the board out of important decisions.  It isn’t the boards that suffer or the admins.  It is the students and teachers. 

If your organization truly represents school choice, then you need to make sure the schools under your purveyance are effectively able to run those schools.  Because we both know the DOE isn’t able to.  You have the backing of millions of dollars and several huge companies, but at the end of the day none of that matters if the charters are involved in all these scandals.  I would ask that you allow transparency to rule the day and that your organization backs House Bill 186 and House Bill 61.  Parents should have choice, but only when everything is crystal clear and out in the open.  It is completely inappropriate for any school to conceal finances or other important matters that can impact children.

I’m sure you don’t like me, and I’m okay with that.  I don’t like a lot of the underhanded tactics I have seen your organization perform, like having parents mass email representatives to block a bill that would actually allow the charters to escape from the financial malfeasances and show why they can be just as good as traditional schools.  I don’t understand the need to protect them, because it always comes out.  If it isn’t me, it will be the next blogger or reporter.  Things are reaching a crisis point with education in Delaware, and serving the will of money over students is not going to help these kids. 

Many people say the entire goal of the education reform movement in the past 10 years has been about the eventual destruction of traditional school districts and the “privatization” of schools, making them all charter or private schools.  I believe this point of view is the goal, but I also know it is a system that will never work.  Because along with that comes the notion of power and people will abuse that.  If you truly want charter schools to survive in our state, than I would strongly consider a different approach.  Because this way, it doesn’t work.  Charters will never take over.  Now it needs to become a matter of co-existence.  The way our schools are funded, with funds coming out of local funds from the traditional school districts does not work.  Fighting for scraps will always cause fighting.  We all need to come up with a better way and stop the fraud, waste and abuse going on in our schools.  For schools that only represent a small percentage of our students, I have never seen such so much chaos and disruption coming from anything in education as I have with the charter school movement.

The next move is yours.  And since I am a firm believer in transparency, I will publish this email.

Thank you,

Kevin Ohlandt

Thomas Edison Charter School Confirms Communication With State Auditor’s Office, Minutes Show Hiding Information From Independent Auditors & Slams Smarter Balanced Assessment

In their April 27th board minutes, Thomas Edison revealed they have been in communication with the Delaware State Auditor’s office.  While it doesn’t go into specifics, there is a lot of discussion about how to reveal contingency items and how to hide them…

“Mr. Christie stated that to Mr. Velasquez point we have a total of $104,250.00, that we’re saying we have spent this on contingency, but we haven’t really.  Mr. Blocksom asked if this makes us look bad and how would the auditors look at this.  Mrs. Winder stated that our external auditors wouldn’t recognize it, but not quite sure how the State would react.”

As well, the school absolutely kills it in discussion about the Smarter Balanced Assessment which they only refer to as “the test”.  Every Delaware Senator needs to read this report before the vote tomorrow.

The Delaware House of Representatives also need to read this and Pete Schwartzkopf needs to get House Bill 186 on the agenda tomorrow, the Senate needs to suspend Senate rules and skip the Senate Education Committee meeting for this bill, and get House Bill 186 passed before midnight June 30th.  This is a shining examples of how Delaware charter schools openly flaunt their disdain for state code and regulation in terms of financial matters.  They also need to do the same for House Bill 61 and get these charter schools recording all their board minutes and place them on their websites within seven business days.  The days of Delaware charters making their own rules are coming to an end.  And nothing Kendall Massett and the Delaware Charter Schools Network or all the backers, investors, and “non-profit” foundations do is going to stop this.

Odyssey Charter School Having Huge Problems, Spent $700,000 Over Budget This Year

It looks like Odyssey Charter School is having some pretty major financial problems in Delaware.   Following many other charters in the past couple years, Odyssey somehow managed to spend $700,000 over their budget this year.

Some highlights from the below board meeting minutes from 5/13/15:

-They spelled “Public” wrong…

-This school continues to run their board meetings like a corporate board meeting and very little is discussed about actual academics at the school, in fact the word “student” is never even mentioned…

-Jennifer Nagourney from the Delaware DOE Charter School Office attended the meeting and reminded the board to make sure they are following FOIA regulations, she also asked the board to give her good news about the school so she can report it to the State Board of Education…

-The board told the administration they need to look at cutting all expenses…

What was the deal with Headmaster Nick Manolakos unbudgeted salary change?  It was rumored he was looking to leave last winter and that he applied for the Providence Creek Academy Principal position.

Could Odyssey be one of the four unmentioned Delaware charter schools being investigated at the State Auditor office?

Delaware Attorney General Office Investigating Ex-Principal Noel Rodriguez of Academy of Dover

According to an article on WBOC’s website, former Academy of Dover Principal Noel Rodriguez is being investigated by the Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust division of the Delaware Attorney General’s office.  This office, which opened in January when Attorney General Matt Denn took office, also investigated the former heads of school at Family Foundations Academy, Sean Moore and Dr. Tennell Brewington, but no charges were filed in that case.

The heat is on for charter schools after this report came out.  With seven charters under investigation by the State Auditor, Tom Wagner, you can be sure legislators will be pushing for radical change.  One of them, State Rep. Kim Williams, finally got her House Bill 186 released from the House Education Committee after Chair Earl Jaques sat on it for a week.  The bill goes to the House for a full vote, but it is not on any agenda yet.  Furthermore, even if it passes the House, it would go to the Senate Education Committee, which probably won’t convene again until January 2016 when the legislators take their 6 month hiatus.

Earl Jaques: Release That Bill! Why are you not releasing it? That is the frightening question!

Delaware State Rep. Earl Jaques is not releasing House Bill 186, legislation sponsored by Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams.  This bill received 8 votes to have the bill released from the House Education Committee a week ago.  This bill would allow charter schools to have post-audits done by the State Auditor, just like traditional school districts are required to do.

With every Delaware media organization jumping on the Academy of Dover auditor report issued yesterday, as well as Family Foundations Academy’s massive theft by former heads of school, and the fact that the auditor released information with regards to 7 charter schools being investigated by that office, I have to wonder why Jaques is not releasing this bill.  Does he answer to the people of Delaware or the Delaware Charter Schools Network?  This is just another of the many colossal failures Jaques has committed this year as Chair of the House Education Committee.  Between him and Sokola I truly don’t know which is worse.  I think a full-scale investigation needs to occur with both these legislative clowns.  How high does the collusion go with those who want to privatize our public schools?

Delaware Joint Finance Committee Approves Step Increases For Teachers

The Delaware Joint Finance Committee approved a motion to approve step increases for Delaware teachers.  This item in the Delaware budget was on the chopping block, but luckily the JFC voted wisely on this motion.  While the increases vary based on years of  experience and levels of education (i.e. bachelors, masters, etc.), it averages around $500 a year for the average teachers.

Congratulations Delaware Teachers!

House Bill 50 On Senate Agenda For Thursday 6/25, Sokola Does Not Want This Bill In An Election Cycle

That was extremely fast.  House Bill 50 is on the Senate agenda for tomorrow, June 25th.  For someone who dragged this bill on and on, he sure is putting the fast track on it now.  Is that cause he is up for re-election next year?  If I were him with all the bad press he has been getting on the blogs lately, I wouldn’t want this bill shadowing me going into campaign season.  But will he allow the bill to reach Markell’s desk, or will he place even more amendments on it?  We will find out tomorrow.  From the http://legis.delaware.gov website….

Note : PLEASE NOTE: Thursday, June 25, 2015 – HB 140 – (Sen. Sokola) SJR 5 – Sen. McDowell HB 50 (Sen. Sokola)

Explaining Townsend’s Side of SA 2 To HB 50

Sorry Kavips, Townsend does not get the “best of intentions” vote from me. He didn’t have to introduce this amendment at all. He is a lawyer, he knew what could happen, and he chose to do it anyway. This could be sitting on Markell’s desk right now. While his actions were not even close to the scheming and duplicity Sokola and Jaques perpetrated, he should have known better. I reached out to him to discuss it and he could not give me a valid reason why it was added. I can’t support that, and I can’t support him. What makes Townsend so appealing to some people is that smile, that big teddy bear thing he has going. But at the end of the day, he wants more political power.

kavips

I’m laughing at the title… Someone who sees it and knows nothing of our General Assembly, is going to say WTF.

But everyone who does know, knows exactly what those hieroglyphics mean.  Here is why what he did made sense….

Delaware put in the 11th grade Smarter Balanced Assessment test which is not required by the feds. (Why?  Obviously seeing the connection between our government and AIR (makers of the test), it was done as a personal favor so that company would get more money out of Delaware taxpayers!)  Feds only require testing in grades 3-10.   Now for a child who has passed 10 grades so far, or is in eleventh grade without having previously taken the Smarter Balanced Assessment (they were first used this year), and who has a great chance of being accepted by a top-notch higher education facility….  to get a failing grade on the SBA (because…

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