Why Doesn’t The Delaware State Board of Education & The Secretary of Education Approve Minor Modifications?

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.

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