Appoquinimink does not want parent opt out at all. They don’t want parents talking about it with outsiders. Especially me. Parents are getting VERY upset and they have justification. I wrote about the latest intimidation tactics the district is taking earlier last week. It turns out that isn’t all they are doing!
Last Thursday, I spoke with the Public Information Officer for Appo, Lilian Miles. I advised her the Appo letter about opt out is very confusing to parents and it is hard for them to understand what it even means. Between the “absent” for the purposes of testing portion and the illegal portion with federal and state code with their glaring omissions surrounding parents, I told her they need to change the wording in the letter.
Lilian explained she understands but they are following the Delaware Department of Education’s suggested template. She was going to check with some district folks and get back to me. She asked which parents were coming to me about this. I advised her I didn’t feel comfortable giving out that information. Apparently, she didn’t like that.
From: Miles Lilian <Lilian.Miles@appo.k12.de.us>
To: “email@example.com” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Friday, March 11, 2016 1:12 PM
Subject: wording on letter
Thank you for your time on the phone yesterday. If you find yourself in conversation with an Appoquinimink parent who feels unclear about the language in the letter they received (which employs a template supplied by DDOE), we encourage you to have them reach out to the educational leader in their child’s building. Parents are partners in our district and as such, we respect their decision-making process. We would appreciate the opportunity to address any concerns they may have personally.
Thank you in advance for your support and understanding!
Public Information Officer
Appo is trying to make parents sign an illegal letter so Appo is “off the hook” with opt out. Even they are naïve enough to think that is acceptable for the testing overlords at the DOE! Another parent approached me after I received this email. The district was really pushing this parent to sign their illegal letter. I responded to Lilian Miles and decided a few more people may want to be aware of what is going on in Appoquimink…
From: Kevin Ohlandt <email@example.com>
To: Miles Lilian <Lilian.Miles@appo.k12.de.us>
Cc: Denn Matthew (DOJ) <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Kowalko John (LegHall) <email@example.com>; Burrows Matthew L. <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Godowsky Steven (K12) <email@example.com>; Lawson Dave (LegHall) <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Friday, March 11, 2016 4:33 PM
Subject: Re: wording on letter
With all due respect, Appoquinimink is making this much harder than it has to be. The DOE and the Appo letter are both wrong with their wording in the letter. The US DOE code, which I informed Appo of last year, is for schools to administer the test. It doesn’t mean a student has to take it or that a parent can not opt their child out. As well, the Delaware code is completely wrong because they only provide the part that states “individuals” without including the part of the code that defines who “individuals” are, like school teachers, principals, administrators, etc. Not once is “parents” any part of that definition. Just because Attorney General Matt Denn did not have the Dept. of Justice do a legal opinion on this letter does not mean it couldn’t be challenged in court. This letter was one of many reasons parents and legislators in Delaware fought so strongly for House Bill 50.
I would strongly encourage Appoquinimink to stop using this outdated and complete fabrication of a letter. It is not enforceable and nor should the Appoquinimink district make it so. If parents were indeed partners in your district, you would not be sending them a letter like this. As far as my telling parents to reach out to the district, I will not do that. I informed the district about the fallacies in this letter a year ago and here we are a year later having the same conversation. Delaware DOE is well aware of this as well with the wording in this letter.
Opt out is a little bit different this year. For the second timers, they know what they are doing. But for the first timers, they don’t have as much support from the state or organizations. The Delaware PTA was hushed into compliance with National PTA who is against opt out. The legislators of the General Assembly could not muster enough votes to override the Governor’s veto of House Bill 50, the parent opt out legislation that would have prevented the bullying and intimidation Appoquinimink is practicing. So what is a parent going to do? If they do a Google search on opt out in Delaware, my name or this blog is going to come up pretty fast.
If a parent reaches out to me, I am not mentioning their name if I deal with a district. If a parent is taking the time to come to me about this, I trust they have already done their own due diligence and already dealt with an administrator in their child’s school. Appo just needs to gut this letter, period! Upon discussion of this with another parent, they shot off a response to the district referencing the response I sent to Lilian Miles.
I will do this for any parent in Delaware if they want me to. If I have to be the only opt out advocate you have, I will gladly take on that mission. I have no qualms about doing so. I don’t care if it ticks people or districts off. Parents have no one else to turn to. So until our state can put a law into place honoring this fundamental and Constitutional right for parents, schools and districts need to know that if they bully or intimidate, I will act on a parent’s behalf. If they don’t like it that is just too bad!
I have not received a response from anyone since my latest email. That may change tomorrow.