At 5pm, Delaware Governor Jack Markell will give the opening remarks at Freire Charter School of Wilmington’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. Freire, who last year submitted a modification request to take away their specific interest clause in their enrollment preferences, was known for their “zero tolerance” policy. Of course, zero tolerance didn’t seem to matter to the former Head of School named Bill Porter who was arrested after assaulting a female protester last March. Members of the Midtown Brandywine Neighborhoods Association protested the school moving in the middle of their neighborhood due to changes in traffic patterns.
It is widely rumored that Markell was instrumental in bringing Freire to town. Freire has a few charter schools in Philadelphia, but they are known for counseling out students. At Freire’s formal review last Spring, due to low enrollment, special education was a main concern of the Delaware Department of Education. Freire had a plan for getting out of state services for its students with disabilities. The DOE said nope. As well, Freire never hired a new head of school. Instead the school is run by their academic heads, Paul Ramirez and Felecia Wennell.
Out of all the education events going on this week, Markell picks a ribbon-cutting ceremony at a charter school. Lame-duck indeed…
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Last night, around 6:30, I watched as my husband circled the block looking for a parking space. Eventually, one of the many name-tag -wearing Freire visitors left, and my husband got that woman’s space, a few doors up the street.
Interesting, isn’t it? Despite Freire’s continuous promises that students, parents, staff, and visitors would not park in the neighborhood, it still goes on. (And this is certainly not the first time.)
Even after neighbors raised $11,000 for our legal defense; and after the neighborhood won in Court; and after the Court of Chancery ordered Freire and developers McConnell Johnson to finally comply with City Code and provide the required 79 parking spaces (not the 40 they actually had for the projected 560 students and 50 staff members) — it still goes on.
There are special rules for this school. I believe it is probably the only school in the City that does not have a Permanent Certificate of Occupancy. When I last spoke with a City official about this (August 2015), I was told that since April 15, 2015, Freire has had its Temporary Certificate of Occupancy renewed every 30 days. That’s because the building is only renovated and occupied by the school on the first and third floors. The second, fourth, and fifth floors of the building are unoccupied and unrenovated. I guess this is what the term “warehousing children” means.