Paging Matt Denn… Should Ex Charter Leaders Alleged To Have Abused Funds Have “Finance Professional” On Their Linkedin Account?

CharterFraud

Not long ago, Sean Moore was at the top of the world.  He was a co-Head of School at Family Foundations Academy.  Together with Dr. Tennell Brewington they ran a successful school.  To the outside world, the school was doing well.  It wasn’t at the top of the heap, but it wasn’t at the bottom either.  In the Fall of 2014, everything changed when FFA had their charter renewal.  Everything came out: the parent complaints, the conflicts of interest between the school leaders and members of the board, and of course, the financial abuse.

A little over a year later, and Sean Moore has the term “finance professional” on his Linkedin account.  According to the Auditor of Account’s report, released over a month ago, Moore and Brewington still haven’t paid back all the funds they owe the school.  But Moore was able to have enough funds to start his own business, Planet Beach Contempo Spas.  He is listed as the franchise owner.  Aside from his time at FFA, from July 2008-January 2015, most of Moore’s experience has been in business.  In fact, twenty years ago he was an auditor himself!

With all that business experience for twelve years prior to FFA, why would he risk it all by embezzling funds from a charter school?  This is just a guess, but I would surmise he was doing it for so long without getting caught he most likely thought he never would be.  Like many citizens in Delaware, I am wondering when some type of charges will be announced against Moore and the other charter embezzlers.  Academy of Dover’s Ex Leader Noel Rodriguez, Brewington, Moore, and just added to the list last week, Shanna Simmens from Providence Creek Academy.  And we haven’t heard anything about those with lower offenses but still considered to be abuse of funds by the State Auditor’s office: Sally Maldonado with Kuumba Academy and the executive director and board president at Delaware College Prep (who will be shutting down at the end of the school year as Red Clay’s board did not renew their charter in December).

I find it ironic Moore is praising his business acumen and starting his own business.  I’ve said this a million times, but if it was the average citizen, we would be in jail by now…

DOE Recognizes Delusionary Growth In Ceremony For Non-Priority Schools

This is interesting.  Priority schools get a press conference in front of Warner Elementary School with the Governor and legislators in attendance.  The citizens of Delaware are told these schools are failing, for all to see.  Recognition schools get a party, on a secure Air Force base in Dover.  Ten of them get $8,000 each to do with what they will.  Priority schools get over $5 million, divided by the six of them, to send Wilmington into a tailspin.  Six are shamed and eleven are honored.  They are all Title I schools, but some get favor while others get false labels.  One is open for the world to see while the other is closed.  Priority demands a chunk of the money goes to a company called Mass Insight while the rewarded ones can form a voluntary committee to allocate the funds.  Priority gives teachers stress and frustration while reward gets banner and a shiny headline.  Priority gets a picture of failure and recognition gets a picture with Secretary Godowsky.

From the DOE press release to the media:

 

Media Advisory       *Please note RSVP deadline below*


Contact Alison May (302) 735-4006

REWARD, RECOGNITION SCHOOLS TO BE HONORED


Secretary of Education Steven Godowsky — joined by principals, superintendents, educators, parents and students — will honor the 2015 Reward and Recognition School award winners during an event at 1 p.m., Friday, Feb. 19 at  Dover Air Force Base Middle School, 3100 Hawthorne Drive, Dover.


These awards, created by legislation passed by the Delaware General Assembly in 2009, formerly were called Academic Achievement Awards. They recognize schools for closing the achievement gap and/or showing exceptional growth on state tests for two or more consecutive years.

 

This year, there are two Reward and 10 Recognition schools that will receive $8,000 each. Additionally, there is one School of Continued Excellence that will be recognized. There is no monetary award with this honor. Each county is represented among the winners.

 

Reward schools are Title I schools identified for being either highest performing or high progress.  Recognition schools are chosen for exceptional performance and/or closing the achievement gap.  The School of Continued Excellence is a school that has received a state award during 2014 and continues to qualify for Reward or Recognition distinction in 2015. It is designated a School of Continued Excellence to recognize its sustained accomplishments.

 

As in years past, each school will appoint a committee (with administration, teacher, support staff and parent representation) to determine how the award will be used. All schools’ representatives will receive banners and will have pictures taken with Secretary Godowsky.

Because Dover Air Force Base Middle School is located on a secured military facility, the state must submit information about all those attending the event in advance so visitors can receive security clearance. Journalists planning to cover this event should RSVP with their names (as it appears on his or her driver’s license), driver license number (please note state if not Delaware) and date of birth to Alison.May@doe.k12.de.us no later than 8 a.m on Thursday, Feb. 11.

 

Dover Air Force Base Middle School (3100 Hawthorne Drive; Dover, DE 19901) is accessed by Del. 1, exit 93. (This is south of the Del. 1 and Rt. 10 intersection.) After taking Del.- 1 exit 93, proceed west toward Base Housing on Old Lebanon Road. There will be a security guard gate. Continue on Old Lebanon Road. Make a right (north) on Hawthorne Drive. The school will be immediately on your left (west).

Did Prestige Academy Lie In Their Major Modification Request?

It is modification mania at the Delaware DOE this month!  Prestige Academy submitted a major modification request to reduce their enrollment to 240 students, and two minor modification requests: one to drop 5th grade and the other to decrease their instructional days from 194 to 184.  In the Charter School Accountability Committee initial report, the DOE flat-out says information they provided in their major modification request is not true.  Also included are parent complaints.  There aren’t as many as Delaware Met 2.0 Delaware Design-Lab High School, but the main one troubles me quite a bit.  Where is the due process for suspended students at Delaware charter schools?  Does it even exist?  Students should not have to face over a month of suspension.  That is ridiculous!

 

Hasta La Vista Mapleton Charter School At Whitehall

Mapleton Charter School at Whitehall is officially dead!  In November, they handed their charter back to their authorizer, the Delaware Department of Education.  The school submitted a major modification request in September to move the school to Dover, but at their first Charter School Accountability Committee meeting, nobody showed up!  They did indicate this was going to happen with the charter, but there was no application on the DOE website.  If they applied at the end of 2016, and they were approved by the State Board of Education, chances are they would not even open until August of 2018.

Mapleton

The Marcia Brady Charter Leader & Her Swell School

The first time I experienced the Marcia Brady of Delaware was at the House Education Committee meeting on House Bill 50 last spring.  She spoke in opposition to the bill to the ire of many parents and teachers across Delaware.  Courtney Fox is the Head of School at First State Montessori Academy.  As the below Charter School Accountability Committee report shows, this school can do no wrong.  Marcia Brady, the oldest sister on the Brady Bunch, could also do no wrong.  This caused her younger sisters to envy and disdain her.  Such is the way of Delaware education at times.  There is always a bright star in the crowd.  And the comments from Kendall Massett with the Delaware Charter Schools Network really wanted to make me heave!  But is all it appears to be at the groovy school?  Below is CSAC’s initial report, followed by a very interesting letter from a company I’ve written about before on here, and finally the public comments received for this modification request to increase their enrollment and to take over the Del Met building.  The last public comment raises some serious eyebrows, including my own…

Odyssey’s Future Tied To Their Bondholder

Odyssey Charter School looks to have their hands tied by their current bondholder.  If they do not score well on their next financial performance framework, the bondholder will step in to intervene at the school.  The school submitted a minor modification request to increase their numbers by a shade below 15%.  Normally, that type of request doesn’t require a full-blown Charter School Accountability Committee (CSAC) hearing, but it is at the Secretary of Education’s discretion.  Godowsky wanted that, and here we are.  Who did the school call to help them out with their struggling money issues?  Below is the initial report from CSAC.

Is Delaware Design-Lab High School Del Met 2.0?

Delaware Design-Lab High School is having some major issues.  While they are struggling with enrollment, it appears their school model isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Parents and students saw right through this based on some of the parent complaints below.  One parent went so far as to say they weren’t releasing her child from the one-year contract until after the September 30th counts.  Citing a lack of supplies, and even cafeteria food by one parent, this brand new charter school looks to be having some of the same issues as the recently closed Delaware Met.  While it doesn’t appear to be having the extent of the issues Del Met had, there is a pretty clear and consistent pattern here.  Their enrollment is so bad they want to decrease it.  Below is the Charter School Accountability Committee report from last week, along with information the school provided and parent complaints that came into the DOE.

 

Can Charlie Copeland’s First Responder School Knock My Socks Off?

I have never heard of a charter school basing their model solely on first responders.  I’ll just get that out in the open.  It is a rather unique model, but for a secondary school model?  I don’t know if I would choose to send my child there, even if he wanted to be a first responder.  Apparently, many parents agree as the school’s enrollment is precariously low.  Even though the Charter School Accountability Committee thinks things are on the upswing, it is based on estimates.  If their current trends continue, Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security will be on life support very soon.  The DOE will be on them, STAT! (Sorry, had to do it!)

The Delaware GOP Chairman, Charlie Copeland, is also the President of DAPSS Board of Directors.  When I posted an article about the school’s low numbers the other day, Mike Matthews shared the article on Facebook which drew Copeland to the school’s defense.  He responded to my many questions about their enrollment issues and the timing of their modification request with the following:

Just simply call the school and take a tour. You can get answers to all your questions. Be prepared to have your socks knocked off. Life is so much simpler if you just do the right thing rather than join the wackos who make up conspiracies.

I may just take him up on it!  I’ve never had my socks knocked off!  In the meantime, take a look at the Charter School Accountability Committee’s initial report on their major modification request to officially lower their already low enrollment.

The Death Paradox

Paradox

If you look on social media and some of the blogs today, many Delawareans are talking about the vote in the House yesterday on the Death Penalty Repeal bill.  Senate Bill 40 passed in the Senate but the House shot it down with a 17-22 vote.  On the record, it was a 16-23 vote, but State Rep. Kim Williams voted no so the bill could have a potential shot at being reconsidered.

I will firmly state I am against the death penalty.  Like State Rep. Sean Lynn said yesterday, if there is even a chance of an error, than we cannot and should not put a person’s life on the line like that.  With that being said, I also oppose abortion.  To me, life is life.  Yes, the death penalty was put in place to execute the most egregious of criminals out there, but the Bible firmly states “Thou shalt not kill.”  Under that line of thought, a fetus is a life just as much as a murderer on death row.

For abortion, I believe that all life has an unfulfilled purpose.  I saw a post on Facebook this morning where a woman talked about being raped.  She had a child and gave it up for adoption.  Many years later, that very same child saved a woman from being raped at a party.  I often think about what could happen with children who are not able to reach their full potential.  Some don’t have a chance at all.  I used to be against all abortion with the exception of a woman who is a victim of rape.  I have changed that view in recent years because there are other options.  I understand women in those situations are given no choice.  But I have no doubt, if even 1% of our most famous inventors, writers, musicians, or leaders were born out of that environment, our world would be a lesser place had they not been born.

For families who have lost a loved one to a murderer, I cannot even begin to imagine your pain.  I have never gone through that, and I pray I never will.  I think every human being on this planet has thought about revenge at one point or another.  In my view, it doesn’t take away the event that precipitated the feeling of pain.  It simply masks it and any feeling from it tends to be short-term and can cause more psychological scars down the road.  And what if the guilty are not guilty?  I would find it very difficult to deal with if I found out I wanted death for someone who turned out to be innocent.

These aren’t easy issues, and based on some of the votes yesterday in the House, this can’t be seen as a simple Democrat or Republican issue.  Sure, many Democrats support death penalty repeal but favor a woman’s choice for abortion.  On the Republican side, it tends to be the opposite.  How many are out there that support both or are against both?  Please take the poll below.  I am very curious how people stand on these very controversial issues.

A Conversation With Earl Jaques Yesterday & How He Wants Me To Betray The Opt-Out Movement

After running some errands yesterday, I stopped by Legislative Hall in Dover.  There was no particular reason for going.  As the House Education Committee came out of their meeting, I was approached by State Rep. Earl Jaques.  He asked if he could speak with me in his office.  I immediately thought he was going to blast me for blasting him on this blog.  This wasn’t the case.

Last Spring, right before the House voted on HB50 for the first time on May 7th, Earl approached me about changing provisions for students with disabilities when it comes to the state assessment.  In 2014, Senator Nicole Poore brought Senate Bill 229 forward.  Her bill, which passed, allowed for the most cognitively impaired students to take an alternate assessment in lieu of the state assessment.  It was a bill I fully supported.  It passed within days of the HB334, the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The law states this is for students who are “clinically incapable of producing valid results on a standardized assessment”.  This is for a very limited number of students, usually 1%.  These are children who don’t even have the ability to hold a pencil, or they are so challenged they can’t put words together.  Earl told me he wanted to add more disabilities to that list.  I advised him right then and there it doesn’t work like that.  You can’t just pick disabilities and say this child has to take a test and this one doesn’t.   He told me he wants to help out kids like my own.  I advised Earl my son is very smart, but I don’t want him taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  He told me to think about it and let him know.

A couple days later, I received an email from Earl:

Additions to SB 229

From: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
To:
Schwartzkopf Peter (LegHall) <peter.schwartzkopf@state.de.us>; Markell Jack <jmarkell@comcast.net>; Godowsky Steven (K12) <steven.godowsky@doe.k12.de.us>; “John.King@ed.gov” <john.king@ed.gov>; Johnson Donna R. <donna.johnson@doe.k12.de.us>; “David.Sokola@state.de.us” <david.sokola@state.de.us>
Sent:
Thursday, January 28, 2016 10:24 PM
Subject:
Opt-Out Clauses For Students With Disabilities

Good evening all.
Most of you know me, but for John King, please allow me to introduce myself.  I am one of, if not the, most vocal proponents of opt-out in the State of Delaware.  I supported Delaware’s House Bill 50 before it was even filed.  This was a legitimate bill, aimed at honoring a parent’s right to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Our House and Senate passed it, but Governor Markell vetoed it.  I’m sure you know all of this and what has happened since.
According to our State Representative Earl Jaques, he had a conversation with you last Friday during your visit to Wilmington. About his idea to add disabilities for students who take the alternative assessment.  He made it sound like you were encouraged by this and you asked him to send you information on it.  At least that’s what he told me…
Getting to the root of this email, Earl approached me yesterday about adding disabilities to Senate Bill 229.  Mr. King, this was Delaware’s bill which would allow the most severe cognitively impaired students to take an alternate test. Either Rep. Jaques truly thinks disabilities can be added to this bill like a specific disability defines what a child can or can’t do, or he was playing me.  I believe he was trying to weaken opt-out by getting one of it’s biggest advocates to slow down the cause.  He wants me to give up the fight and cave.  I just have to offer labels to him.  As a father of a student with disabilities who is very intelligent and smart, and no longer attends public school in Delaware because of the insanity that has become public education, I find it disgusting and reprehensible that Jaques would think I would even think about participating in his sick game.
Rep. Schwartzkopf: You made a very big mistake putting Earl as the Chair of the Delaware House Education Committee.  Is this how State Reps behave?  Playing on what they perceive to be an Achilles heel of someone who opposes them?  And then uses students with disabilities to accomplish this?  This is some sick stuff, and I hope you take action on this immediately.
I sincerely hope none of you in this email put Jaques up to this.  I truly hope none of you would stoop that low.  I can promise you though, my resolve with opt-out has never been stronger and thanks to Earl I am more determined than ever to educate every single parent of a child in a Delaware public school on opt-out.  We could have done this clean without all of this.  Oregon passed an opt-out bill Governor Markell, but you had to stick to your guns and look out for business interests over the rights of parents.  We can stop with the charades here.  It is what it is.  We all know what Smarter Balanced truly is and what it’s true goals are.  I would have to be a morally bankrupt human being, with what I know, to not encourage every single parent in this state to say no to SBAC.
But I’m not done there, because as we all know there are many parts to this machine in Delaware.  I am going to tear the whole thing apart.  Don’t believe me?  You don’t think I can do it?  Watch me!
Mr. King, since you aren’t really a part of all this, but I feel you should bear witness, I do have a boon to ask of you: Call off your participation rate attack dogs with their threatening letters about cutting Federal funding because of a parental choice.  Schools have no control over opt-out.  There is nothing they can do to stop a parent from making this choice.  And there is nothing you can do against a parent.  If you want to be helpful, stop with all this assessment inventory nonsense you are pushing and encourage states to get rid of the very tests parents are opting out of: the standardized test.  The jig is up.  Parents are only going to opt out more which renders the test useless.  We don’t want it for our children.  It is designed for data to track our children and to sell them to the lowest bidder.  We don’t even want it embedded into the personalized learning competency-based education widgets.  We don’t want our children to be investor’s little playthings.  Look me in the eye and tell me that isn’t what this is all about.  You can “personalize” and “standardize” all you want.  But leave our kids alone.  We aren’t stupid.  And the charter love, that is going to go down like the Titanic more and more every day as the cracks are exposed and the rot festers through the foundations behind that movement.
Governor Markell… Jack… I’ll bet you didn’t even think twice about not putting the basic special education funding for students in Kindergarten to third grade into your neat little budget.  But you made damn sure to get the $11.35 million in for all the early childhood education.  Let me ask you this though: what happens to those children, who got all that extra support when they were a toddler with disabilities, when they go to school and become a student with disabilities?  In an oversized classroom with limited resources?  I’m sure we would blame the teacher then, right?  It’s almost like you want students with disabilities to fail.  But they can’t just fail, they have to fail spectacularly well!  And we will stretch that proficiency gap so hard it snaps!  But hot damn, if we can get them a low-paying job when they graduate, then by golly, we did our job!  And we will continue to pay University of Delaware millions and millions of dollars to come up with “behavior” programs to deal with those neurologically-based special education kids!  But hey, we have money to throw around.  Let’s allocate $3 million for bike trails…
If any of you need more information on all of this and more detail about Earl, please read my article about this on Exceptional Delaware.  This email will be included in it.
Thank you,
Kevin Ohlandt

 

 

 

State Rep. Mike Ramone Is Going To Ignite An All-Out Charter-District War With House Bill 261

RamoneHybrid2

Delaware State Representative Mike Ramone’s House Bill 261 may cause even more controversy than the war of the charter school audit bills!  Ramone’s proposed legislation would protect charter schools if they don’t get timely records from school districts when an expelled student or a student who was placed in an alternative school setting for disciplinary reasons choices into a Delaware charter school.  The bill would make it so the local school district would have to pick up any costs for that student.  This bill is assuredly in response to what happened at Delaware Met.  Many students who went to the school were alleged to have been either expelled or came from an alternative school setting.

I see red flags all over this bill.  I am already picturing charters not taking these students based on this information.  The key word in this legislation is “applies”.  How would a local school district know when a student applies to a charter?  Of course it is the burden of the charter to request that information.  It would be like applying for a new job and my old job would be responsible for proactively sending my references to the new job, prior to my even being accepted at the new job.  Using the word “burden” in the synopsis of this bill makes it look like “Oh, the poor charters. The problems they have with those bothersome districts.”

Ramone, you are letting your charter bias shine through with this bill.  This could put the stigmatism of “cherry-picking” to a whole new level!  I understand the intent here, but this is NOT the way to do it.  As well, the proof is in the pudding on whether or not records are sent.  This is also a two-way street.  Local districts do not always get records from charters in the allotted time period.  If you want to further the tensions between districts and charters, this is a great way to go about it.  I hope this bill dies a quick and sudden death in the House Education Committee…

Governor Markell’s FY2017 Education Budget Gives Funds For WEIC, SAIL, Autism, & Early Childhood Education But Stiffs Basic Spec. Education For K-3 Students

Provide greater support and accountability to Priority Schools and ensure the State and districts collaboratively intervene in failing schools.

 

Once again we have the Delaware Governor and his Department of Education labeling schools as “failing”.  This is based on standardized test scores.  It doesn’t take into account the high number of low-income/poverty students, students with disabilities, and the students who bear witness to horrible violence which has a severe impact on their ability to learn.

Governor Markell put in $6 million for the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission redistricting plan and $1 million for the SAIL (afterschool) program.  Charters have the recommended $500,000 for their “performance” fund which is the same as last year.  $2.5 million would go towards “school improvement” funds (priority schools, focus schools).  The Governor is recommending $4 million for “teacher compensation reform”.  He nixed nearly $10.7 million in base teacher increase pays, but allowed for $5.3 million to cover inflationary costs.  This is a $57 million dollar increase from the FY2016 budget for personnel costs so I am a bit confused on that one.

From what I can see, it looks like the Teacher/Leader Effectiveness Unit at the DOE is losing some funds.  Secretary of Education Godowsky requested an increase from $1.8 million to $2.4 million, but Markell is recommending $1.75 million.  Godowsky also wanted to double the state funding for technology operations from $2.8 million to $5.7 million, but Markell is looking at $3.6 million in his budget.  SEED scholarships, which increase scholarships for Delaware students going to Community College, has a proposed $1.6 million increase.

What I do see is a $10 million increase in special needs programs.  Although it doesn’t explain the increase, I am assuming this is to cover the funding for Basic Special Education for Kindergarten to 3rd Grade students in Delaware.  Currently, there is no state funding for these students with disabilities.  This was one of the main recommendations from WEIC and is also pending legislation from State Rep. Kim Williams House Bill 30.  It looks like, upon inspection of Senate Bill 175, which breaks down everything in the budget, these funds are going towards early education.  Since the Race To The Top for Early Childhood Education ended, Markell is putting $11.35 million towards this.  So Basic Special Education funding doesn’t get funding, but we are going to pay for early childhood “intervention”.  I will have MUCH more to say about this one later.  Many other special education programs remain the same, including alternative settings.  Allocations for out-of-school placement, like Day Schools and Residential Treatment Centers looks the same as last year, even though costs for these programs have skyrocketed over the years.

On the Dept. of Health and Human Services budget, Markell is looking to increase funding for Autism by only $500,000.00, which is much less than the funds requested through Senate Bills 92 and 93.  Altogether, the fiscal notes for those two bills totaled $1.3 million.

Many of the increases from the previous year are based on inflationary measures.  In the below document, I’m not sure why the first page has all the black on it, but I will attempt to fix it later. Updated 4:58pm: I’m just going to put a picture of it in here…

DOEProposedBudget1stPage

And the detailed version, giving a full breakdown of where the money would go…

Governor Markell Issues Executive Order To Create Delaware Open Data Portal

MarkellTransparency

Yesterday, Delaware Governor Jack Markell issued Executive Order #57 to make state data more transparent and available to the public.  The Delaware Open Data Council, consisting of the Secretaries of the Delaware’s State Agencies, will make recommendations for what kind of data will be available on this new portal available to the public.  Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky, or his representative, will serve on this council.  These are the kinds of documents I would like to see on this Open Data Portal:

  1. All Delaware Department of Education vendors, contracts, change orders, and funds sent to the vendor.  This would include any and all companies the DOE sends funds to that may not necessarily have a contract, such as The Rodel Foundation of Delaware.  All testing contracts should definitely be on this Open Data Portal.
  2. All documents, including emails, sent to or received from the United States Department of Education.  This would include any ESEA documents.
  3. Any document pertaining to the outflow of student data to any State agency or outside company.
  4. All district and charter school bullying and discipline reports, regardless of the controversial n#.
  5. All DOE and State Board of Education documents, including appendices, going back to the creation of the Department of Education.
  6. Any and all emails, meetings, and documents coming to or from the Delaware Governor’s office in regards to education.

I’m sure I can think of more, but this is just a start.

A few months ago, Delaware came in 49th place in a ranking of Open Government and the ability of states to be transparent.  Markell himself got quite a bit of heat after the disclosure of his private email, the infamous Alan Jackson account.  Delaware citizens should not have to submit FOIAs at their own time and expense to get information that should be readily available to the public.

I also think the General Assembly should have representation on the Open Data Council.  While the House Education Committee is very good about posting minutes of their meetings, the Senate Education Committee doesn’t do it at all.  The public has a right to see this information.

To read Markell’s Executive Order, please see below.

Perfect Timing On This State Board Of Education Legislation!

It’s the middle of the day.  You are at work and you start to wonder about something you read a couple days before.  It was something about education, something concerning students with disabilities.  Your son has a disability.  Oh yeah, it was concerning suspensions and expulsions.  You read it on some blog.  It was alarming to you because little Johnny has been getting in trouble at school.  You aren’t sure if it the disability or his bad manners.  He got suspended a couple times.  The State Board of Education was meeting right now to discuss a regulation about it.  The blog post rattled you a bit because Johnny could easily be one of those kids.  You wish you could go to the meeting, but you are out of vacation days and you certainly don’t want to use up your sick time to go to a State Board meeting.  If only they had these meetings later in the day…

Delaware State Representative Kim Williams introduced a bill yesterday that would allow the above worker to attend that State Board of Education meeting at 5:30pm or later.

HB260

I fully support this bill.  It would allow parents and teachers to attend State Board meetings without having to interrupt their day.  The State Board isn’t exactly a paying position either, so it would benefit the State Board members as well.  As well, many Superintendents and other school admins attend these meetings which takes time away from their school or district.  The timing is perfect on this bill!  As parents become more involved in education matters, it is important they have the opportunity to attend these kinds of meetings.  About 99% of Delaware school boards meet at night because they know parents want to come.  Why should our State Board of Education be any different?

There was a time when both the Delaware Department of Education and the State Board of Education did not hold as much power as they do now.  They were more of a compliance body as opposed to the policy setting machine they have become.  Even the role of the Executive Director of the State Board of Education didn’t have such a fancy title back then.  And that position certainly didn’t run the show like our current one does.  Please support this bill as parents, teachers, educators and Delaware citizens!

 

Why Didn’t Freire Charter School In Wilmington Announce Their Bomb Threat Today?

freire_charter_school_dragonmark

You won’t find this on the News Journal.  Or on Freire’s Facebook page either.  But the school had a bomb threat today which caused at least seven Wilmington police cars to come to the school.  After the police investigated, the students were allowed back in the school an hour later.  Not confirmed is a school authority advising a local resident that several students were suspended and the matter is still being investigated.  Were parents of the students notified about this?  Where is the transparency in our Delaware charter schools???

As well, there have been at least five visits by the Wilmington Fire Department at the school since they opened in August over fire alarms.

Freire Charter School of Wilmington opened in August after a hellacious year involving issues with the Midtown Brandywine Neighborhood Association.  When the neighbors protested the school’s opening without a clear plan on the increased traffic, the former Head of School got into an exchange with one of the protesters which resulted in charges filed against him.  He “resigned” from the school shortly thereafter.  Freire’s original model was a “zero tolerance” charter school, but they changed that last year because of the “specific interest” clause in their admission policy.  They applied for a federal grant for startup costs which specifically prohibits any type of specific interest in their enrollment strategies.  The above picture is the emblem of Freire, but I’m not sure what a fire-breathing dragon has to do with a charter school…

Meanwhile, Delaware legislators in Washington D.C. wrote the FBI to look into the multiple bomb threats across Delaware the past few weeks and when the FBI should act on this.  According to the article by the Middletown Transcript, only state and local authorities have been investigating the Delaware threats.

Providence Creek Academy’s Official Response To The Auditor’s Report

Providence Creek Academy wrote an official response to the Delaware Auditor of Account’s investigative report on their school finances which showed outright theft of school funds through purchase cards and the payroll system.  This appeared on the Providence Creek Academy Facebook page today at 7:32pm.

The Board of Providence Creek Academy Charter School wishes to address the January 27, 2016 Inspection Report issued by the State of Delaware Office of Auditor of Accounts, and to clarify information misstated in media accounts of the Inspection Report. At the end of 2014, the Board became aware of potential financial improprieties during the process of terminating an employee in charge of finances for Providence Creek Academy. The Board promptly engaged its outside auditor to evaluate the matter. The Board also self-reported its concerns to the State for it to conduct an independent audit. To the extent media reports suggest the Board was not proactive in addressing these issues once they came to the Board’s attention, or that such issues were only brought to the State’s attention through an anonymous tipster, that is inaccurate. At all times, the Board fully cooperated and worked with the auditors to identify problem areas so that appropriate remedial measures and safeguards could be enacted. The Inspection Report identifies no concerns after December 2014, which makes evident the Board’s commitment to having in place the right personnel, policies, and procedures for handling the finances of Providence Creek Academy.

The comments after this, including ones from myself, are going unanswered… for now…

*Updated 1/28/16: I took out the picture in this post.  I understand the “duct tape the teacher to the wall” picture stemmed from a charity event at the school.  I think it is hysterical and it is a classic picture!  As well, I am also taking out other posts from their Facebook page since they don’t really relate to the auditor matter.  I apologize for any staff members who may have been offended at the school.  My intention was not to offend.

Providence Creek Academy Knew About Their Financial Abuse & Still Backed Sokola’s Non-Transparency Audit Bill

As revealed just half an hour ago, Providence Creek Academy was the latest in the never-ending “Delaware Charter School Financial Abuse Scandals”.  They knew this report was coming out.  You would think they would have shut up about charter school audit bills given this information.  But no, they went on their Facebook page and encouraged parents of students to fight State Rep. Kim Williams House Bill 186, which would help prevent these scandals from happening.

PCASB171

I heard Providence Creek Academy’s Head of School, Chuck Taylor, was in attendance at last week’s Senate Education Committee meeting, along with the Delaware Charter Schools Network, of which he serves as the President of their board. Unconfirmed, but on the rumor circuit is the PCA board voting to oust Chuck as soon as they get a new school leader because he is not qualified to run the school based on what they want in a school leader. The school has been without an official head of school since Chuck “resigned” back in 2013. The current principal, Audrey Erschen, has been around this whole time but the board at PCA seems to be very loyal to her, despite family members causing problems at the school in the Fall of 2014. The DOE and the State Board of Education, fully aware of some of these financial abuses and that the school was under investigation, renewed PCA’s charter last month. While the school told the Charter School Accountability Committee about how they have improved financial control through all of this, they were not exactly forthcoming about the nature of the abuses. I even congratulated them on their supposed transparency based on what I knew, which wasn’t even close to what was in this report.

Providence Creek Academy State Audit Inspection Released: Rehab Costs, Las Vegas Trip, & P-Card Abuses

The Delaware Auditor of Accounts just released an inspection report on Providence Creek Academy showing many violations in procurement card spending and very questionable payroll expenses.  The office was tipped off over a year ago, around the same time as Family Foundations Academy, about alleged financial improprieties at the school, as well as the Delaware Department of Education.  Abuses revolved around personal purchases through the State of Delaware p-card, payroll expenses that were not justified, and even a conference in Las Vegas in the Summer of 2014 that four employees of the school attended (as did representatives from Academy of Dover and Family Foundations Academy).  The school’s auditor from 2012 to 2014 found none of this in their annual audits of the school.

While the abuses were not in the scope of Academy of Dover or Family Foundations Academy, they are still illegal and against the law.  Please support State Rep. Kim Williams House Bill 186 to help prevent these abuses from being missed by the charter school auditors and to bring transparency to light before these investigative inspections even have to occur.  Senator David Sokola’s Senate Bill 171 does nothing to stop these events from happening.

A Mentor At Delaware Met Speaks Out About The School Closing & The Impact On Students

Tamara Varella worked at The Delaware Met as part of A.J. English’s mentoring team.  She reached out to me and asked me to share a post she wrote on Facebook about her time at the school.  She offered some insight into what went on at the school from a very different perspective.  I think most people are in agreement that Delaware Met was cursed from the onset, but could it have been saved at some point?

This post is to all of my family, friends, followers, current/past/future clients. Thank you to everyone that has checked on me, prayed for me and even slightly noticed my drastic pull back from social media the last 4 months. I more than appreciate you! The DE MET School closed last week, literally 5 months after opening its doors. Back in September I was asked by my client, AJ English to help him transition his after school mentoring program to a full-day in-school program at the Delaware MET Charter School. When I went to the school and saw how great the need was I knew I could not walk away and turn my back on “Our Kids”. I made a conscious decision to put my business and whatever plans I made for my future on complete hold because I personally felt it was warranted and would require that level of dedication. For the last 4 months AJ, Cheris Monique and I have been literally pouring out our heart, tears and soul every day ministering to the students at the MET. It just so happens that the majority of students at the MET were the At-Risk, troubled youth no one wanted to deal with let alone play a role in shifting their lives. Regardless of what you read in the paper or heard in the streets, the students at the MET were not animals or just numbers tied to funding! They were our babies that needed direction and more importantly someone to care enough to show them love and correction. The way God used our team, English Lessons, during this time was miraculous. We have countless testimonies of students changing, improving grades, being respectful to adults, restoring relationships w family members and most importantly getting to the root causes so students could be made whole. Our in-school fight prevention rate was insanely high as we were able to resolve issues, restore respect among peers and instill a level of respect for each person involved in a disagreement that was brought to our attention prior to an altercation. School administrators had never seen this done before. The work we did transcends school walls and was felt in the streets of Wilmington as our interventions involved predominantly “street issues”. Students come to school with issues and problems that the average adult would not be able to handle AND go to school and learn!!! From being hungry to almost getting shot the night before, to fear of getting jumped when they get home, to getting kicked out the house and I could go on and on. If you have not viewed Monique Taylor-Gibbs testimonial of the state of our children in DE Schools I beg you to click the link below or look at my last post.
 
I’m sharing all this not to gloat but to put a call out to everyone taking the time to read this….. Our kids need US!! Not a new system, not a new program, not a bunch of hype and empty promises. Our kids need YOU!! We won’t see a change in our community, the city of Wilmington or even our state until YOU show up!!! YOU have what our kids need. Your story of overcoming, your story of a shady past and bad decisions, your story of being told u would be nothing but proved them wrong, your story …. which comes with the ANOINTING TO BREAK THE YOLK. This generation is a different breed. They only want to hear and receive from those who can relate. I could go on and on abt the system and how they failed our kids but that would be a waste of time.

Please come back to the HOOD, ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVES AND GET INVOLVED!! Thank you to both AJ and Cheris for allowing me to be part of the team. Thank you to all my clients that were patient and understanding. For those of you who were upset about my not doing my workshops, I promise I’ll make it up to everyone! Please keep praying for me as the closing of the school and worrying about the students has me hurt and saddened. This whole experience has caused me to shift internally …. Not clear yet on what that means… But it is definitely time to get back to business. See you all soon!

PLEASE VIEW: Link to Monique’s testimony abt the state of DE Schools
https://www.facebook.com/tamara.varella/posts/10205432459713008
Or you can access it on my last Facebook post.

The Truth: Prologue

TheTruth

It takes devious minds to come up with a plan that ultimately destroys what is good.  It takes years of very careful steps, and constant collaboration every step of the way.  It takes money and resources and legislation designed to paint a picture of failure.  It takes pawns, willing and unwilling, to craft a tale.  It takes deception and manipulation to design a system where some win and many lose.  This is The Truth.  This is our life.  These are the lies.  In the coming months, I will be shining the light through the window for all to see.  The paths are very subtle and it is easy to miss the forest around them.  GreatSeal_12_CMYKYou only think you know what this has all been about.  The greatest deception Delaware has ever known will soon be revealed.  So far, we have seen bits and pieces of the puzzle.  The picture will show how we have all been used for an agenda so nefarious and calculating, your head will spin.

The grabbing hands, grab all they can.  Everything counts in large amounts. -Depeche Mode

It’s all about the SJR folks…