The Delaware Department of Education recently sent letters to every single school district, vocational district, and each charter schools with their special education rating based on compliance indicators with the United States Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs. There are four designations: meets requirements, needs assistance, needs intervention, and substantially needs intervention. I will be delving into more of this in GREAT detail, as I don’t agree with much of this. This is based on compliance from fiscal year 2013, so any schools that opened in FY2014 or FY2015 are not part of these ratings. But for now, please see what the district ratings are:
Traditional School Districts
Appoquinimink: Needs Assistance
Brandywine: Needs Intervention
Caesar Rodney: Needs Intervention
Cape Henlopen: Meets Requirements
Christina: Needs Intervention
Colonial: Needs Assistance
Delmar: Needs Intervention
Indian River: Meets Requirements
Lake Forest: Needs Assistance
Laurel: Needs Intervention
Milford: Meets Requirements
Red Clay Consolidated: Needs Intervention
Seaford: Needs Intervention
Smyrna: Needs Assistance
Woodbridge: Needs Intervention
New Castle County Vo-Tech: Meets Requirements
Polytech: Needs Assistance
Sussex Tech: Meets Requirements
Academy of Dover: Needs Assistance
Campus Community: Needs Assistance
Charter School of Wilmington: Meets Requirements
DE Academy of Public Safety & Security: Meets Requirements
DE College Prep: Meets Requirements
DE Military Academy: Meets Requirements
East Side Charter: Needs Intervention
Family Foundations Academy: Meets Requirements
Gateway Lab School: Needs Intervention
Kuumba Academy: Needs Assistance
Las Americas ASPIRA Academy: Needs Assistance
MOT Charter School: Needs Assistance
*Moyer: Needs Intervention
Newark Charter School: Meets Requirements
Odyssey Charter School: Meets Requirements
Positive Outcomes: Needs Intervention
Prestige Academy: Needs Intervention
Providence Creek Academy: Needs Assistance
*Reach Academy for Girls: Needs Assistance
Sussex Academy: Meets Requirements
Thomas Edison Charter: Needs Assistance
*means school is now closed as of 6/30/15
There you have it, all the districts, charters, and vo-techs in Delaware. Anyone with a basic knowledge of Delaware can see the obvious flaws with this rating system. Most of the districts and charters who “need intervention” have the greatest populations of special education students, as well as the highest number of minorities and low-income populations. This system is completely unfair to any parent looking for potential school choices for their special needs child. Or even to those parents with a “regular” student, who may think the school is not a right fit for their child because of perceived special education issues.
These ratings also do not take into account IEP denials at all. Many charters have flat-out refused entrance to children with IEPs, despite numerous warnings by the state and the federal government, as well as civil rights groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union. Charters have also been widely known to practice “counseling out”, where students with IEPs are either kicked out or pushed out through repeated suspensions or strong suggestions to parents how they “can’t service your child” or “we don’t have the resources”.
For a school like Charter School of Wilmington to “meet requirements” when they have a literal handful of IEPs there, while a school like Eastside who has numerous IEPs to need intervention is not a fair and accurate comparison.
One other important factor is none of these ratings take into account the continuous and growing number of special education lawsuits in our state. The feds ratings are based on complaints, mediations (with the state) and due process hearings. There are several problems with this. First off, there hasn’t been a due process hearing in Delaware in over two years. The last hearing was in April of 2013, and out of the 25 due process hearings since 2006, only two were against charter schools. Anyone with a basic knowledge of Delaware Online Checkbook can see the MILLIONS of dollars going out in special education lawsuits. When I asked MaryAnn Mieczkowski, the Director at the Exceptional Children Resources Group at the DOE about this conundrum last summer, she stood by the due process system as being “more than fair.” Many of the schools that “meet requirements” have been sued and more than once. But the DOE will never report that data…
Second, the complaints are heard by “hearing officers” who are paid by the Delaware Department of Education. One such hearing officer is the President of the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens, Robert Overmiller. He was paid $10,000 this year alone to rule on these special education complaints. The Director of the Exceptional Citizens Resource Group at the DOE sits on the very same group. Overmiller is also paid by the GACEC. The GACEC issues opinions on matters such as the recent and growing opt-out movement. Many were shocked to see the GACEC dead set against opt-out and House Bill 50. But now we know about conflicts of interest where the state Department pays the other state group’s Presidents, and the two side on issues of legislative importance. As well, the GACEC gives opinions on State Board of Education regulations. This is the problem in Delaware with conflicts of interest. They aren’t transparent until someone happens to stumble upon them.
There is so much more to all of this, and I will be writing a lot about it in the coming weeks. In the meantime, you can read each letter sent to these districts, vo-techs and charters here: District And Charter Reports
You can also see each state’s ratings below, in the below document released by the US DOE, which is also very misleading, because it rates Delaware as “needing assistance” in the Part B determinations for one year, and “meets requirements in Part C, but doesn’t even touch on the fact they were “needing intervention” the past two years, which makes Delaware look better on a long-term basis when that is not the case.
5 thoughts on “Delaware School Districts, Charter Schools and Vo-Techs Special Education Ratings By The Delaware DOE. State Ratings By The US DOE.”
Wow! this is super alarming! I did assume there were issues but this is shocking.. definitely something that DOE should be doing something about.
Newark charter school “counseled” my child out, by making my child’s time spent there awful for our child and family. Greg Meece has no clue about special education, yet his school gets meets requirements. Totally cannot compare NCS to a larger district like Christina or Brandywine.
I’ve heard this about NCS over and over again, and yet the DOE does nothing…
Newark Mom, have you considered taking your child’s story to DE ACLU? They are trying to spur corrective action on these issues–the more specific info they have (in addition to the publicly avail. statistical data), the better. The person you would want to speak to there is Rich Morse (perhaps you already have).
Yes, it’s clear from the above list that the best route to “meeting reqs” in this area is to hold your % of spec Ed kids way down. Perhaps if state funding were allocated to reflect the resource needs of spec Ed, low-income & ELL students (student-weighted funding), schools and districts with larger proportions of those students could adequately serve them (“meet reqs”). This rating system, from our state Ed agency, is insulting.
Where is capital on the list?