Breaking Exclusive Mammoth News! Newark Charter School Network! Or The Attempt!

My street-level sources found out some huge news today.  Turns out Newark Charter is looking to become a charter dynasty here in little old Delaware.  But one of their attempts didn’t work out quite the way they planned.  Instead of going to a charter leader at another Delaware charter with their recruitment into the Newark Charter Network, they went to one of their assistants instead.  When the charter leader found out, they fired the assistant immediately.  Continue reading Breaking Exclusive Mammoth News! Newark Charter School Network! Or The Attempt!

Congress Ready To Tackle Reathorization Of ESEA Again…The Devil Is In The Details…

In a press release today, the Education and Workforce Committee in the United States Congress stated the next step in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is about to begin:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 13, 2015
CONTACT: Press Office
(202) 226-9440
Joint Statement on Efforts to Reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Ranking Member Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), along with Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), issued the following joint statement on efforts to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act:

We believe we have a path forward that can lead to a successful conference, and that is why we are recommending to our leadership to appoint conferees to take the next step in replacing No Child Left Behind. This is a law that everyone wants fixed, and teachers, parents, and students are counting on us to succeed. Our efforts to improve K-12 education will continue to reflect regular order, providing conference members an opportunity to share their views and offer their ideas. Because of the framework we’ve developed, we are optimistic that the members of the conference committee can reach agreement on a final bill that Congress will approve and the president will sign.

# # #

The details of this are going to be watched by many.  No one is going to get everything they want.  That is certain.  But many people are going to be looking at what is sacrificed and what is rammed in there at the last minute.  I believe they should honor opt-out if they keep the standardized assessments, or just get rid of them entirely.  I don’t think they should do anything that continues the road we are on because the past 15 years have clearly shown us it is not good for students.

DOE Releases Delaware Charter School Organizational and Financial Framework Reports

  • The Delaware Department of Education released the Financial and Organizations parts of the Delaware Charter School Performance Framework.  Because the State Board of Education has not voted on the new accountability structure called the Delaware School Success Framework, the Academic portion of the Performance Framework is not available yet.

For the most part, most of the charters did very well on these two parts.  One thing to keep in mind is the financial reports which do not give a clear indication of how charters are doing financially since it is based on their audit that deals with where the schools stands as of 6/30/15.  This does not take into account how much money they may receive in deposits the very next day.  As an example, when I read Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security it stated they were one day out in being able to pay bills.  This is where they were at on 6/30/15 but schools receive their funding after the start of the new fiscal year which occurs on July 1st of each year.

There were some things I want to point out.  Another important thing to remember is that this is only for the timeframe of July 1st, 2014 until June 30th, 2015.  So something like the State Auditor investigation into Delaware charters and their finding released in September of this year would not appear on these frameworks.  However, for a school like Academy of Dover and their financial issues, that was released in June 2015 so it does appear.  Some of the schools have already gone through a formal review, like Family Foundations Academy, and would not be able to have “double jeopardy” based on these reports unless new information was brought to light.

For those who have said the Charter School Office at the DOE doesn’t monitor things (of which I have been guilty), these reports show this is not the case in many areas. I was actually happy to see the high amount of bullying reporting violations because it does show someone is keeping track of these things. I wish these bullying incidents never happened but I have always said it needs to be monitored more closely. I have a sneaky suspicion more is going to come out on this soon and it is something the DOE may not even be aware of, but that is another matter. There were fairly consistent violations with many schools: the percentage of highly-qualified teachers, procurement card policies, and websites having all the correct information. As any reader of Kilroy’s Delaware and this blog are aware, we both keep track of those things often.

I have to give props to Jennifer Nagourney and her crew over there for the thoroughness in these reports. As I keep track of employees coming and going at the DOE, it looks like the charter school office actually lost an employee over the past year so their workload has to be even bigger. Whether that position went to fund the Race To The Top positions is another matter entirely, but I do know the people in this office work hard.  I’ll probably get crucified for this, but I would love to see the traditional school districts get monitored for some of this stuff, especially the bullying reporting.

Without further ado, here are the ratings for all the Delaware charters in Organizational and Financial aspects of their Performance Framework. I didn’t delve too much into the financial pictures for the above reasons. At the end is a link to all the charter reports and a sample of one so folks can see the new format which explains a lot of the reasoning for what is in the reports.

Academia Antonia Alonso

Organizational: Does Not Meet Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Did not submit payroll internal control plan to the Division of Accounting upon request
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to financial oversight were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included monthly financial statements, audited financial statements, Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) agendas, CBOC minutes, and CBOC notice.
  • FY15 Audit Results:
  • 2 material weaknesses (#2015-01 and #2015-02)
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to governance were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included Board of Directors meeting minutes and Board of Directors meeting agendas.
  • No evidence of completion of educator or administrator evaluations as required by law
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (21.4%)

Academy of Dover

Organizational: Does Not Meet Standard
Financial: Does Not Meet Standard

  • Misuse of funds by now-former School Leader identified by Delaware Auditor of Accounts in June 23, 2015 report:
  • Poor internal controls identified by Delaware Auditor of Accounts in June 23, 2015 report
  • Did not submit payroll internal control plan to Division of Accounting upon request
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to financial oversight were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included monthly financial statements, audited financial statements, Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) agendas, CBOC minutes, and CBOC meeting notices
  • FY15 Audit Results: Qualified opinion
  • 2 material weaknesses (#2014-003 and #2015-001)
    1 instance of noncompliance (#2015-001)
  • Non-compliance with State Employees’, Officers’, and Officials’ Code of Conduct by now-former School Principal
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to governance were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included Board of Directors meeting minutes, Board of Directors meeting agendas, and Board of Directors meeting notice
  • As noted in formal review, started year without accountability systems for school leader – put in place after school leader departed
  • Substantiated incident involving teacher violence against student
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (93.5%)

Campus Community

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (81.6%)

Charter School of Wilmington

Organizational: Not produced by DOE (Red Clay)
Financial: Meets Standard

Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security

Organizational: Does Not Meet Standard
Financial: Falls Far Below Standard

  • Promotion and graduation requirements not met, including scheduling and transcript verification
  • Attendance goal of 95% not met (90.6%)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (84.9%)

*Editor’s Note: While I am not focusing heavily on the financial portions of these, I do want to note this school has been rated Falls Far Below Standard in financial for FY12, FY14 and FY15 and was Does Not Meet in FY13.

Delaware College Prep

Organizational: Not produced by DOE (Red Clay)
Financial: Falls Far Below Standard

*Editor’s Note: Similar to the last school, DCP was Does Not Meet for financial in FY11 and FY12, and was Falls Far Below in FY13, FY14, and FY15

Delaware Military Academy

Organizational: Not produced by DOE (Red Clay)
Financial: Not ready yet

Early College High School

Organizational: Not Ready Yet
Financial: Not Ready Yet

EastSide Charter School

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Social Studies participation rate of 95% on state assessment not met (93.50%)
  • Children’s Internet Protection Act/E-Rate: Non-compliant Internet Safety Policy and Internet Safety Curriculum
  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance.
  • Division of Accounting review of payroll policies resulted in rating of “weak” (potential ratings include “strong,” “adequate,” “lacking,” or “weak”)
  • Alternative administrator evaluation framework not yet approved by the Department as required by 14 Del. C. § 1270(f)
  • Failure to record four substantiated incidents of bullying (since corrected)
  • Failure to post Delaware Department of Justice Ombudsman information to school website (since corrected)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (65.9%)

Family Foundations Academy

Organizational: Does Not Meet Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Misuse of funds by now-former school leaders during the reportable period
  • Division of Accounting review of payroll policies resulted in rating of “weak” (potential ratings include “strong,” “adequate,” “lacking,” or “weak
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to financial oversight were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included monthly financial statements, Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) agendas, and CBOC minutes
  • FY15 Audit Results: Qualified opinion on financial statements
    Adverse opinion on CFDA 84.010, Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies
    3 material weaknesses (#2015-01, #2015-02 and #2015-03)
    1 significant deficiency (#2015-04)
    2 instances of noncompliance (#2015-01 & #2015-04)
  • Note: Family Foundations Academy experienced near-complete turnover within its Board of Directors and school leadership team in January 2015, with additional changes made over the reporting period that resulted in significant changes to governance policies and procedures. The Organizational Framework Report includes data from the entire reporting period. In the development of this report and rating, the Department attempted to identify which areas of non-compliance can be attributable to individuals no longer associated with the school.
  • Non-compliance with State Employees’, Officers’, and Officials’ Code of Conduct by now-former school leaders during the reportable period; In response, charter school board implemented a new organizational chart, made staffing changes, and implemented new employee management policies
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to governance were not posted as required by code at multiple points until December 2014. These included Board of Directors meeting minutes, Board of Directors meeting agendas, and Board of Directors meeting notice
  • No evidence of completion of educator or administrator evaluations as required by law
  • Failure to post Delaware Department of Justice Ombudsman information to school website (since corrected)
    Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (85.9%)

First State Montessori Academy

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Did not submit payroll internal control plan to the Division of Accounting upon request
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to financial oversight were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period; these included monthly financial statements and Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) minutes (since corrected)
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to governance were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period; these included Board of Directors meeting minutes and Board of Directors meeting agendas (since corrected)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (78.6%)

Gateway Lab School

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Social Studies participation rate of 95% on state assessment not met (94.11%)
  • Use of PCard by school personnel absent prior approval from Division of Accounting following unanticipated change in personnel – no improper expenditures identified
  • Division of Accounting review of payroll policies resulted in rating of “weak” (potential ratings include “strong”, “adequate”, “lacking”, or “weak”.
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that monthly financial statements were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period (since corrected)
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that annual report was not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period (since corrected)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (86.0%)


Kuumba Academy

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to financial oversight were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included monthly financial statements, audited financial statements, Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) agendas, and CBOC minutes (since corrected)
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to governance were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included Board of Directors meeting minutes and Board of Directors meeting agendas
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that the charter school’s annual report was not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period
  • Reporting requirements – Failure to report discipline incidents (since corrected)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (59.6%)

Las Americas Aspiras

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Division of Accounting review of payroll policies resulted in rating of “lacking” (potential ratings include “strong,” “adequate,” “lacking,” or “weak.”)
  • Reporting requirements – failure to include a reason for bullying incident as required by 14 Del. C. §411D(b)(2)(k) (since corrected)

MOT Charter School

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance.
  • Division of Accounting review of payroll policies resulted in rating of “lacking” (potential ratings include “strong,” “adequate,” “lacking,” or “weak.”)
  • Reporting requirements – failure to include a reason for substantiated bullying incidents as required by 14 Del. C. § 411D(b)(2)(k) (since corrected)

Newark Charter School

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance.

Odyssey Charter School

Organizational: Does Not Meet Standard
Financial: Falls Far Below Standard

  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance.
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to financial oversight were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included monthly financial statements, Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) agendas, and CBOC minutes
  • CBOC did not operate as a distinct public body from Board of Directors until April 2015
  • CBOC meeting minutes from July 2014 to September 2014 mispresented as meetings of a distinct public body
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to governance were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included Board of Directors meeting minutes and Board of Directors meeting agendas.
  • Board of Directors meetings in December 2014 and January 2015 closed to the public
  • From July 2014 to January 2015, Board of Directors bylaws stated that an Executive Committee could meet in violation of Open Meeting Law meeting access, notice, agenda, and minutes requirements.

Positive Outcomes

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Social Studies participation rate of 95% on state assessment not met (90.00%)
  • Non-compliant with Title I, Part A: Schoolwide Plans
  • Non-compliant with Title II, Part A: Highly Qualified Teachers (HQT) and Highly Qualified Paraprofessionals (HQP)
  • Non-compliant with Perkins: Secondary Career and Technical Education (CTE)
  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance.
  • Division of Accounting review of payroll policies resulted in rating of “lacking” (potential ratings include “strong,” “adequate,” “lacking,” or “weak.”)
  • Reporting requirements – failure to include a reason for substantiated bullying incidents as required by 14 Del. C. § 4112D(b)(2)(k) (since corrected)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (84.1%)

Prestige Academy

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Falls Far Below Standard

  • Social Studies participation rate of 95% on state assessment not met (94.03%)
  • Education of Homeless Students – Did not provide budget upon request
  • Non-compliant PCard internal control policies (since corrected)
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to financial oversight were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included monthly financial statements, audited financial statements, Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) agendas, CBOC minutes, and CBOC meeting notice (since corrected)
  • Reporting requirements – failure to correctly report crimes as required by 14 Del. C. § 4112, and failure to code students as being placed in a Consortium Discipline Alternative Program as required by 14 DE Admin. C. 611.3.0 (since corrected)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (64.5%)

Providence Creek Academy

Organizational: Does Not Meet Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Division of Accounting review of payroll policies resulted in rating of “weak” (potential ratings include “strong,” “adequate,” “lacking,” or “weak.”)
  • FY15 Audit Results:
    4 material weaknesses (#2015-001, #2015-002, #2015-003, and #2015-004)
    1 instance of noncompliance (#2015-002)
  • Misuse of funds by now-former employee during the reportable period; upon discovery, the charter school reported concerns to State Auditor of Accounts and implemented new oversight policies
  • Non-compliance with State Employees’, Officers’, and Officials’ Code of Conduct; upon discovery, the charter school board implemented a new organizational chart, made staffing changes, and implemented new employee management policies
  • School leader evaluation not completed for 2014-15, due to October 2014 resignation of Board of Directors member trained in DPAS evaluation system and unavailability of training opportunities until Summer 2015; charter school reported that training was completed after the reporting period and the evaluation was in progress as of the date of publication of this report
  • Reporting requirements – failure to record a substantiated criminal violation by a staff member in eSchool as required by 14 Del. C. § 4112 (recorded September 2015) and failure to include a reason for substantiated bullying incidents as required by 14 Del. C. § 411D(b)(2)(k) (since corrected)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (85.5%)

Sussex Academy

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Non-compliant with Title II, Part A: HQT/HQP; Professional Development Activities; Budget vs. Expenditures
  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance.

Thomas Edison

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Children’s Internet Protection Act/E-Rate: Non-compliant Internet Safety Policy and Internet Safety Curriculum (since corrected)
  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance.
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to governance were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included Board of Directors meeting minutes and Board of Directors meeting agendas (since corrected)
  • E-Rate reporting (since corrected)
  • Reporting requirements – failure to include a reason for bullying incident as required by 14 Del. C. § 411D(b)(2)(k) (since corrected)

Sample Report:

Link To All The Reports

An Open Challenge To Governor Markell, Secretary Godowsky & DOE Regarding Opt-Out

I just sent Governor Markell and the DOE an email with a request for the final Accountability Framework Working Group meeting on Tuesday at 10am.  Anything less than this will not be sufficient for myself and the growing number of parents who will exercise their parental rights to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

From: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
To:
Godowsky Steven (K12) <steven.godowsky@doe.k12.de.us>; Schwinn Penny <penny.schwinn@doe.k12.de.us>; Reyna Ryan <ryan.reyna@doe.k12.de.us>; Markell Jack <jack.markell@state.de.us>; O’Mara Lindsay (Governor) <lindsay.omara@state.de.us>
Sent:
Friday, November 13, 2015 9:53 AM
Subject:
AFWG Meeting on 11/17

Good Morning Dr. Godowsky, Dr. Schwinn and Mr. Reyna,
I understand there is to be another Accountability Framework Working Group on 11/17/15 at 10am in the Cabinet Room at the Townshend Building in Dover.  I have to admit I was taken aback at Dr. Godowsky’s suggestion last week at the Delaware State Board of Education Retreat that he was not going to accept the AFWG’s recommendations for the Delaware School Success Framework.
What I am asking of the three of you for Tuesday’s meetings is actual documentation, on United States Department of Education letterhead, why Delaware would have to impose the harsh opt-out penalties based on US Congressionally approved laws and regulations.  I’m sorry, but hearing from Dr. Schwinn vocally about what US DOE requires is not enough.  I want to see, in writing, why this is necessary.  Vague letters from an employee no longer at US DOE, and non-regulatory guidance from US DOE is not sufficient.  Not for something this big.  The letter from US DOE provided to then Secretary Murphy places the burden of opt-out on schools, meaning they cannot pick students to opt out.  The law absolutely says nothing in regards to parental opt-out.  While I agree schools should not make that choice as some have done in the past, it is fundamentally, morally, and legally wrong to infer that parents can not opt their child out of the state assessment.
I am writing this on behalf of all the parents who have either already opted their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, those who will be doing so, and those who have intimidation and what amounts to bullying tactics perpetrated on them by schools in Delaware who are not honoring their parental rights which are the underpinnings of our society.  Parents should not live in fear about consequences for a school if they choose to exercise their fundamental and Constitutional rights, as established by the U.S. Supreme Court on many occasions.
If this is a mandate from Delaware Governor Jack Markell, I would challenge him to come to this meeting in person to make clear his justification and reasoning for this. If he is unable to attend, then I would like him to craft a letter on State of Delaware Governor letterhead with a legal basis for this mandate.
To not honor parental rights and to punish schools for a parental decision is a slap in the face to parents and schools.  If the intention is to punish schools for parental decisions, this is abhorrent and a disgrace.
Thank you,
Kevin Ohlandt,
on behalf of the Opt-Out Parents of Delaware

Breaking News: AFWG To Have Encore Meeting On Tuesday 11/17, Open To The Public

After the stunning news last week the Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky was blowing off the Accountability Framework Working Group’s recommendation of lighter opt-out penalties for the Delaware School Success Framework, the group is meeting for an encore on Tuesday morning, 11/17, at 10am.  This is two days before the State Board of Education will make their final decision on the ESEA waiver.  Interestingly enough, Regulation 103 (which ties the school report card mess into state code) is not up for a vote at this meeting, which means December will most likely be the vote for that.

Somewhat related to this, I’m hearing the DOE employee named Ryan Reyna who works in the accountability area and was one of the controversial Race to the Top positions that should have been cut from the DOE is in all likelihood leaving the DOE very soon.  Reyna was one of the key DOE employees involved in the AFWG group.

If you are available on Tuesday morning, this meeting will be open to the public and will have public comment.  I strongly suggest attending this meeting and making your voice known on this subject!!!!!

Here is the agenda for this meeting:

Bourbon, Boone’s Farm, Tony Allen & The Chicken or The Egg: The Great Facebook WEIC Debate!

The true conversations about WEIC don’t happen at all those committee meetings, they happen on Facebook.  Tonight, we got the rare privilege of having the Chair of the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission join the fray!  I’m not sure where to start, but since I started the WEIC debates today with my Colonial School District article, I guess we can start there.

Kevin Ohlandt Why I refuse to support WEIC going forward…

Tony Allen Kevin,
As always, I am happy to talk with you directly. You make several claims in here that are not substantiated.
We did meet with Ted and Dusty. I don’t consider that a “back door” meeting. They were both clear in the board’s desire to maintain the current boundaries. And yes, I disagree with their decision as I (not Dr. Rich) noted in a letter to them. However, we do want them to continue to be engaged in the overall work of the Commission which, as you know, involves much more than redrawing lines and is consistent with the FIVE YEAR charge of the Commission’s work.
Continue reading Bourbon, Boone’s Farm, Tony Allen & The Chicken or The Egg: The Great Facebook WEIC Debate!