More Legislators Weigh In On DOE-RTTT Salary Scandal

I get newsletters from the House Democrats and the House Republicans.  In the email from the House GOP, legislators on the Republican side weighed in on the latest Delaware Department of Education stunt with the former Race To The Top positions the DOE funded out of vacancies in their budget.

With the inclusion of the eight Race to the Top staffers as part of the DOE’s permanent work force, Rep. Kowalko said the agency has added approximately 34 additional positions in recent years.  “This is not responsible shrinking of government,” Rep. Kowalko stated in his e-mail. 
“DOE officials knew the Race to the Top grants were temporary funding and yet they spent a portion of it hiring people they knew would eventually have to be paid by the state,” said State Rep. Kevin Hensley, R-Odessa-Middletown, who is also a former Appoquinimink School Board member.  “In my estimation, this casual disregard for public funding displays a disturbing level of hubris by agency leaders.”
State House Minority Whip Deborah Hudson, R-Fairthorne, concurred.  “The thing that struck me is that the DOE was able to absorb more than $900,000 in annual salaries using existing vacancies.  Any agency with that kind of excess fat built into its budget is an agency I think needs to be reviewed for its efficiency and effectiveness, especially given the funding challenges the state is likely to face in the next budget.”
January can’t come quick enough!  I hope the 148th General Assembly gives the DOE the shellacking they rightly deserve!  Can anyone say Sunset Committee?

Delaware’s Regulation 811 Would Make All Student Health Records Electronic In A DOE Database

They say timing is everything.  No sooner do I write an article about student data and big companies dealing with that data and then the Delaware State Board of Education puts up their agenda for their next meeting on October 15th.  One of their proposed regulations actually deals with Student Health Records.  Regulation 811 defines these records as the following, with a cross-out being the old regulation and the underlined being what they want to add:

Delaware School Health Record Form” means an form electronic document containing documentation of an information about a student’s health information, which includes but is not limited to identifying information the student’s name, gender, birthdate, health history, immunizations, results of mandated testing and screenings, medical diagnoses, long term issued medications and treatments, and referrals.

So if this regulation passes, no longer would a tangible health form be sent from one school to another, it would be sent electronically.  And all the information would be stored on an electronic Delaware School Health Record.  Just more evidence of the hardcore data and cataloguing of Delaware students by the DOE…Sorry folks, with everything I’ve figured out with this state agency, I don’t trust this one at all.  This regulation is up for discussion, not action.

You can read the entire regulation here:

Two New Teacher Regulations Up For State Board Of Education Meeting On 10/15

The Delaware State Board of Education sure does love their state regulations!  Here are two more  brought forward by the Delaware Professional Standards Board.  The first deals with Graduate Level Salary Increments and the second tackles Emergency Certificates for teachers.  I went through both and looked for some key wording in the proposed changes.  I have some areas of concern.  Where things are crossed out that is old parts they are looking to get rid of.  Underlined sections are the proposed changes.  Once again, both of these regulations would give the Department of Education more power in certain matters.

The second one has some very interest language in it concerning alternate routes to certification (Teach For America, Relay Graduate School).  While neither of these two companies are mentioned, it is certainly implied this is what they are talking about.

However, the Department may issue an Emergency Certificate to an employed educator enrolled in an approved alternative routes for teacher licensure and certification program even if the employing authority fails to meet the 60-day request deadline.

I would suggest teachers read these documents to see what it could mean for them.  I will fully admit I am not an expert on these matters, but does this open the door for more Teach For America and Relay Graduate School in Delaware schools? Let me know!

Delaware Chancery Court Suggests Red Clay Redo Their Last Referendum In Legal Opinion

This hasn’t been discussed in mainstream media too much, but the Delaware Chancery Court just wrote a legal opinion concerning Red Clay’s last referendum.  The Red Clay Consolidated School District wanted to case dismissed, but the Chancery Vice Chancellor Laster denied the dismissal on October 7th. The entire opinion can be read here.  Keep in mind this is not an actual verdict, merely an opinion by a judge. Key highlights from this legal opinion are as follows:

Finally, to the extent this decision has erred by treating the Family-Focused Events as a reward for voting, at a minimum they were selectively targeted get-out-the-vote events designed to appeal to a readily identifiable group that Red Clay believed would support the tax increase. Viewed as such, the Complaint states a viable challenge under the Elections Clause to the Family-Focused Events. The Abbott decision stated that the purpose of the Elections Clause ―is to ensure that the right of citizens to vote in an election is unfettered.‖ 2008 WL 821522, at *19 (Del. Ch. Mar. 27, 2008.

The opinion goes into great detail about the events going on at various Red Clay schools the same day as the referendum.

Using the Family-Focused Events, Red Clay encouraged and facilitated voting by families with school-aged and pre-school-aged children. By doing so, Red Clay made the election unequal, not through traditionally negative means, but through positive means. Whether Red Clay‘s conduct went too far is necessarily a matter of degree, but for pleading-stage purposes, the plaintiffs have stated a claim under the Elections Clause.

The heart of the complaint behind this case was a woman brought her elderly parents to a school to vote.  She claimed parking was a huge issue and there were empty school busses taking up spots.  She claims her parents, who are disabled, were not given unfettered access to the polling booth.

Moreover, in the current case, Red Clay‘s selective get-out-the-vote efforts had negative effects on the elderly and disabled. As the Abbott decision recognized, a potential violation of the Elections Clause exists if the plaintiffs allege that ―their access to the polls was disturbed….‖ 2008 WL 821522, at *20.

Vice-Chancellor Laster denied the dismissal request by the Red Clay attorneys:

In challenging Red Clay‘s electoral interventions as a whole, the Complaint states a claim on which relief can be granted under both federal and state law. Red Clay‘s motion to dismiss is therefore denied.

The Vice Chancellor basically said if Red Clay does the Referendum again without some of the contested events taking place, and they have the same results, it would render the case moot.

Red Clay has the option of addressing the plaintiffs‘ contentions by returning to the electorate. This decision has concluded that the plaintiffs would not be able to state a claim for relief if Red Clay only engaged in certain types of conduct and avoided others, such as the Family-Focused Events and electioneering in close proximity to the voting rooms. If Red Clay called for a new special election and limited its electoral interventions, and if Red Clay‘s voters ratified the result of the February 2015 election by voting in favor of the tax increase, then this litigation would be moot.

This will certainly be an interesting case to watch if it does make it to trial.  There was a lot of heat put on Red Clay based on the events of this referendum, and even though Attorney General Matt Denn did not find anything wrong, several Delaware legislators did.  The final decision in this could change the way referendums in Delaware occur.  Or maybe someone will finally get the good sense to do away with it for good!

Revisiting The “Student Data Privacy Protection Act” (SB 79)

kavips

SB 79 was put forth as a protection of student data.  Everyone voted for it because who would want child predators to have access to children’s data?….. it passed 17-4 in the Senate.(Lavelle, Pettyjohn, Lopez, Richardson scoring the no votes) and passed 40-0 in the House.

They were tricked.

An amendment was offered. SS1. Ostensibly to change typos.  “deleting certain definitions; and (9) correcting minor typographical errors.” –– Synopsis. 

What was not seen were these few words…. “The Act is substituted for Senate Bill No. 79 and differs from Senate Bill No. 79 by (1) creating a new chapter in Title 14 of the Delaware Code creating the “Student Data Privacy Protection Act”; (2) deleting provisions addressing data security and privacy responsibilities of the Department of Education in favor of establishing the Student Data Privacy Task Force to study and report on those issues as part of a…

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