The biggest Delaware charter school news this year definitely belonged to the three charter bandits: Sean Moore, Tennell Brewington, and Noel Rodriguez. The first two were the heads of school at Family Foundations Academy while Rodriguez belonged to Academy of Dover. Altogether, the trio managed to abscond over $300,000 of school funds for personal purchases. And that was just the verified amount. Over $1.3 million could not be verified as school or personal purchases by the Auditor of Accounts in Delaware. That is some serious coin!
Luckily, none of them are currently employed by the schools. *Brewington surfaced at Christiana in the Emotional Therapeutic Support classroom as a one-on-one teacher. Shortly before Thanksgiving she was no longer there. Moore and Rodriguez have been very quiet. Rodriguez was last seen at the Amazon Distribution Center in Middletown but he was let go around the same time the auditor investigation into Academy of Dover came out last June.
Many are wondering why the three are not in jail. Delaware Senator Greg Lavelle, a huge supporter of charters in Delaware, was wondering the same thing. Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn said his office is looking into the matter. This is why State Rep. Kim Williams House Bill 186 needs to pass, which would make all charter school audits go through Delaware State Auditor Tom Wagner’s office. Resistance from the Delaware Charter Schools Network reached a fever pitch last Spring, even resulting in the non-profit recruiting parents to fill out an online form on their website which automatically went to the Delaware legislators. The bill passed the House on June 30th, but every single House Republican voted no along with Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf and Chair of the House Education Committee Earl Jaques. When the legislators return in January, this bill will be in the hands of the Senate Education Committee.
In October, Wagner’s office released a report that showed some other charter schools that had very suspect incidents of financial abuse. Kuumba Academy and Delaware College Prep’s incidents were not as egregious as those of Family Foundations Academy and Academy of Dover, but they are still a pattern that needs to change at Delaware charter schools. In years past, Pencader Business School and Delaware Military Academy were also investigated for misuse of state funds. While this is certainly not indicative of all charters in Delaware, it is far too many. Education is about students, not a personal ATM machine!
*This article has been corrected to give a more accurate read on where Dr. Tennell Brewington wound up. Apologies for the error!