DOE Shells Out $443,750 To UChicago Impact For 5Essentials Survey

The Delaware Department of Education is paying UChicago Impact, a non-profit owned by the University of Chicago, $443,750.00 for the 5Essentials Survey.  The work will be completed in a year.  This is all part of the Delaware School Success Framework, aka, the school report card.  How much time and resources has the DOE spent on this part of our ESEA flexibility waiver?  My biggest question is why the DOE pays so much money to outside vendors.  I’m sure their response would fall somewhere along the lines of “our Department can’t be biased with these things so we need an outside voice”, but if you look at the “partners” of UChicago Impact, the bias is already there.  They are all about the corporate education reform movement.  The questions in their 5Essentials Survey are extensive and intrusive in my opinion and I don’t see any benefit coming to schools with these.  It is just more ammunition for the DOE to blast teachers and schools.

While the scope of the work is vast, how can the DOE keep contracting with vendor after vendor with no oversight whatsoever by the state?  Yes, I’m sure this is in their budget, but why are they allowed to have such an extensive budget when the students of Delaware have to sit in bloated classrooms with limited resources?  This is a waste of money.  $443,000 for a survey?  Why are we making sure these education “fix it” companies are well-fed, but we can’t even do the same for our own citizens?  Delaware DOE, you are actually making the problem worse.  It almost seems like the Delaware DOE wants to have an elite “country club” status in education.  But they don’t realize how much they are starving Delaware schools of what they truly need.  Below is the contract with UChicago Impact and the Delaware DOE.

Delaware Met, The Commitment To Stay One Year, & Good Cause To Pull Your Child Out

As parents have been trying to pull their children out of Delaware Met, some are being told they cannot because they signed an agreement to stay with the school for one year.  What they may not be telling the parents are certain circumstances that override this part of the charter school law.

From Title 14 of the Delaware Code, paragraph 402:

 (2) ”Good cause” shall mean a change in a child’s residence due to a change in family residence, a change in the state in which the family residence is located, a change in a child’s parent’s marital status, a change caused by a guardianship proceeding, placement of a child in foster care, adoption, participation by a child in a foreign exchange program, a reported and recorded instance of “bullying” against their child as defined in § 4112D of this title, or participation by a child in a substance abuse or mental health treatment program, or a set of circumstances consistent with this definition of “good cause.”

I would definitely say with what I am hearing about this school, there would be multiple circumstances that would allow a parent to utilize the “good cause” part of this law.  If any parent feels the school is violating the civil rights of their child, whether it is through discipline or special education treatment, please contact Allison Reardon at the Delaware Department of Justice.  She is in the Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust.  Her phone number is 302-577-5400.  The Attorney General’s office can not do anything if information is conveyed to them from a 3rd party.  They need to hear directly from parents or guardians, or even students.  If the school is pressuring parents to keep their children there, they may not be within the legal bounds to do so.

In the meantime, I want to thank the Delaware DOE and the Delaware DOJ for taking these concerns seriously.  Nothing is more paramount than the safety of our children.

Are There Human Rights Violations Going On At Delaware Met? Parents Need To Speak Up NOW!!!!

I received an anonymous message this morning concerning Delaware Met.  We may be entering a new level of abuse inflicted by this school on their students.  As if everything already happening isn’t bad enough, I am now hearing about issues concerning the school hiring prison guards to “control kids”, multiple suspensions, and issues with confinement.  While these allegations have not been vetted, it follows the alarming trends with this school.  To that effect, I emailed the DOE, Governor Markell, Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn, and some legislators in regards to this.  I also called the Delaware DOE about this and left a message.  I did receive a return call just minutes ago from them and I advised the Charter School Office of the information conveyed to me.  Someone needs to do the right thing and get in there and shut this place down.  There are many students with disabilities in this school and not following, implementing, or creating an IEP for them is a recipe for disaster.  Below is the email I sent out not long ago:

From: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
To:
Nagourney Jennifer <jennifer.nagourney@doe.k12.de.us>; Blowman David (K12) <david.blowman@doe.k12.de.us>; Godowsky Steven <steven.godowsky@doe.k12.de.us>; Markell Jack <jack.markell@state.de.us>; O’Mara Lindsay (Governor) <lindsay.omara@state.de.us>; Denn Matthew (DOJ) <matthew.denn@state.de.us>
Cc:
Williams Kimberly (LegHall) <kimberly.williams@state.de.us>; Kowalko John (LegHall) <john.kowalko@state.de.us>; Baumbach Paul (LegHall) <paul.baumbach@state.de.us>; Sean Matthews <sean.matthews@state.de.us>; Gray Teri (K12) <teri.gray@sbe.k12.de.us>
Sent:
Thursday, October 22, 2015 10:54 AM
Subject:
Delaware Met

Good morning all,
I received an anonymous and very troubling message this morning concerning the Delaware Met.  As I’m sure you all know, this school is under formal review.  But if this message is true, there could be human rights violations going on at this school, in current time.  I know most of us don’t see eye to eye on education policies, but I’m sure we can all agree that no student in Delaware should have any rights violated whatsoever. 
The message I received concerns many of the items already covered in Del Met’s formal review letter, but also issues concerning the hiring of prison guards, multiple suspensions and issues of “confinement”.  The last of these concerns me greatly.  Many of these students may have IEPs and Federal and State law clearly indicates matters of punishment for students with disabilities.  Confinement sounds very serious, and I fear for these students safety. 
I’m not sure who has to get in there, but something needs to be done.  This school is out of control and something beyond a formal review needs to take place immediately if these types of things are going on.
Thank you for your time, and I appreciate any response to this very disturbing situation.
Respectfully,
Kevin Ohlandt
I strongly urge parents of students in this school to go public with what they know.  Do not let this school intimidate you or your child.  If what I am hearing is true, I would highly recommend you do not send your child to this school.  Let the cards fall where they may, but if it is a matter of safety and human rights, please do the right thing for your child.  This is a wake-up call for all of us in Delaware, and I am letting you know I care about your kids.  I have never issued a message like this before, but look out for your kids.  I strongly commend the DOE for doing the right thing with putting this school on formal review, but this has now become a matter beyond them if these events are occurring.  We need to keep our children safe, first and foremost.
Who is actually running this school? Is it Innovative Schools? The Delaware Leadership Executive Director who stated he would farm out the “day-to-day” operations to an intern?  What is going on inside this place?
To that end, parents need to name names and let those with the ability to do something operate out of full transparency so they can get in there.  Schools need to be a safe haven for children, but this sounds more like prison conditions.  I won’t deny there are probably some bad behaviors going on with some teenagers in this school, but if the school is unable to adequately deal with this than the center will not hold.  I heard from another parent of severe bullying going on at this school and the administration not dealing with this properly.  Something needs to be done…NOW!!!!
UPDATED, 12:10pm: This developing situation is being looked at very seriously by the Delaware Department of Education.  As well, I am being told there are two rival gangs within this school and this seems to be the heart of the issues.  Someone is going to get killed in this school if something doesn’t change immediately.  We need all hands on deck here, and parents should be very concerned.  I am begging the school: If you cannot handle this, do not hide.  Don’t think you can wave a magical wand and fix this.  If it is beyond your ability to control, please, just shut it down.  The Delaware Met is not an alternative school.  You do not have the necessary supports to handle those students.  Do the right thing.