Charter Schools authorized by the Red Clay Consolidated School District go through charter renewals, modifications, and formal reviews through Red Clay, not the Delaware Department of Education. Both Delaware Military Academy and Delaware College Prep are up for charter renewal this year. Delaware College Prep was in the news very recently when the State Auditor found some financial abuse going on by the school leader. Kilroy’s Delaware has raised several red flags about this school in the past six months. They are also on probation status based on their formal review last year for academic performance. Here is their charter renewal application:
And the exhibits and other information that are mentioned in the application can be found here:
Interesting that they have no parent representative on their school board as of October 1st, but they are “actively looking”. Here is the agenda for this portion of the Red Clay Consolidated Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, 10/21/15:
Last year, we saw Moyer and Reach Academy close. Two years before that, Pencader Business School closed. Will we have two more Delaware charters close this year? Delaware College Prep and The Delaware Met? And what will fill the void? New charter applications in Wilmington have a moratorium until at least 2017. What I can see is more charters submitting modification requests to increase their enrollment. In the meantime, keep an eye out on Delaware College Prep. Just because the DOE doesn’t cover this is not an indicator that Red Clay won’t hold them accountable. I would love to see their reaction to the State Auditor report!
The Delaware DOE must love charter school minor modifications. An approved charter school can request a one-year delay or even choose an alternative educator evaluation system with a minor modification request. But why doesn’t the State Board of Education have any say with minor modifications? They used to. This was changed with Regulation 497, which went into effect on November 1st, 2013. Prior to that, both the Secretary and the State Board had approval authority. The Secretary would make their decision and then submit it to the State Board for concurrence:
Decisions for minor modifications to a charter may be decided by the Secretary
[, with the
concurrence of the State Board of Education,] within 30 working days from the date the
application was filed, unless the timeline is waived by mutual agreement of the Secretary and the
applicant, or in any case where the Secretary, in the sole discretion of the Secretary, deems that it
would be beneficial to either refer the matter to the Accountability Committee or to seek advice
from the State Board prior to deciding the matter.
Regulation 497 did away with this. It allowed Mark Murphy, in one of his final acts, to approve many charter schools for an alternate teacher evaluation. It also allowed charter schools that were approved to get a one-year delay in opening to get a stay of formal review by Mark Murphy. The Delaware Met used this “get of jail free card” in April 2014 because they didn’t have sufficient enrollment to open by August, 2014. The Secretary is one person. One person should not be deciding “minor” decisions which can have a huge impact on students and staff at a school. I think the 148th General Assembly needs to clearly definite what is considered a major and minor modification for a charter during their next legislative session. And they should also realign this so the State Board of Education also has to approve both a major AND minor modification.