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

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

  1. How does an audit report = “oversight”? Audits are done long after anything bad has taken place. (and in the case of DE AOA reports, looooong after the fact.) And as far as I can tell, there is no difference whatsoever pre-AOA report and post-AOA report about what happens to these crooks.

    Please explain exactly how this bill helps improve “oversight”?

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    • As an example Lesley, you provided two different names in two different replies. I caught the oversight and corrected it. I carefully looked at all the information and found the “glitch” so to speak. That’s what a good auditor does.

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      • You didn’t answer my question.

        The goal of oversight is to prevent problems before they happen. This bill is about the audits that happen long after anything happens. How do audits = oversight?

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        • I would suggest you read my article on Thomas Edison Charter School from tonight. They give a classic example of something their independent auditor wouldn’t catch but the state auditor would. Oversight, as a goal, has to be implemented first. The more people know the auditor can find problems like what happened at other charters, the less likely they are to raid the till. It’s like any law, it has to be implemented before it can be enforced. Just having this bill out there should be a wake-up call for these charters. They should not be using school funds as their personal ATM machine. Why are you so against this bill? If you have a better mechanism to catch these crooks please share.

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        • In terms of punishing the crooks, I would reach out to Attorney General Matt Denn on that one. I know if it was me at my job doing that kind of thing, I would be facing criminal charges and they would prosecute. Why should a state employee be any different?

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          • I -and everyone with any decency – agree 100% that charters need to follow the law, do right by kids and the public, and hold themselves accountable. No question. No one, not the charters or the network, is saying there shouldn’t be an audit or accountability.

            This bill presents a solution without a problem. you say the AOA needs this information, but they already have it! AOD and PCA reported their own concerns about potential issues directly to the office. When info at FFA came to light, the information was turned over to the AOA right away. And the AOA can already work with DOJ to subpoena anything they want to see at anytime. This bill doesn’t give them anything they don’t already have.

            What no one is talking about his how embarrassingly long it takes for the AOA to “do” anything with the findings. This info was reported in August, and it took AOA all this time to release anything at all? Unacceptable! That’s ONE report – what will the turnaround time be for 27 reports?

            No one disagrees with accountability for charters and strong consequences for anyone breaks the law. All I’m saying, and a number of DE legislators are saying, is that this particular bill doesn’t solve any problems, and may actually create more.

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          • That’s the problem Lesley, far too many charters DON’T hold themselves accountable, at least not at the right time. Noel Rodriguez was pilfering state and local funds for his personal use for three years. His office looked like a bizarre Disney store. Employees should have known, “Hey, the boss is always treating us for Happy Hour, he always has the latest gadgets, we get all these bonuses…something isn’t right here.” At the very least, the Board should have known. I can’t speak for PCA, but had this bill been in place years ago, Rodriguez would have been caught MUCH sooner. The only reason Academy of Dover reported it was cause their independent auditor found something, but missed it the previous two years. This is proof alone this bill should pass. But if you need more, how about the shenanigans at Pencader and Family Foundations. At FFA, it was going on for years! I imagine it reached a point there where it became so blatant and a power play there is what caused it to come out. But what about the four other schools? Thomas Edison, perhaps Odyssey, and two others we don’t even know about.

            As for the Auditor of Accounts and the Dept. of Justice being able to subpoena information at any time, I believe they would need just cause. They aren’t just going to randomly request info. for no reason at all. So that argument doesn’t hold a lot of weight either. Who are all these legislators who oppose the bill? Earl Jaques? He might as well put up a big sign that says I work for the DOE now. Some Republicans? Some Democrats? Let’s bring it to a full House vote TODAY and see what happens.

            Maybe if the Auditor of Accounts got a boost in funding and the DOE got a massive reduction, they could churn out those reports much faster. How about it JFC? Want to go back to the drawing board and start slashing the folks over there who should have been on top of this to begin with or turned a blind eye to it?

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