The Delaware DOE came out with an official press release on the Delaware State Board of Education’s decision today to revoke the charter of Delaware STEM Academy. The decision came just hours ago at the monthly State Board meeting. Most of the information is factual with the exception of one item which I will notate after their press release.
Delaware STEM’s charter revoked
Delaware STEM Academy will not open this fall after its charter was revoked today. Students who had planned to attend the school will be able to enroll elsewhere.
Earlier this month, the Delaware Department of Education’s Charter School Accountability Committee (CSAC) recommended the revocation of charter unless the school’s board could provide sufficient information to address the committee’s concerns about its financial viability and programming. The New Castle high school was scheduled to open this fall with grades 9 and 10 with a focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
The school was placed on formal review in April.
While committee members praised the school’s board for its transparency, responsiveness, involvement and leadership, citing its members’ experience and commitment as among the school’s greatest strengths, they raised concerns about how the school would be able to execute its approved charter with fidelity due to low enrollment and thus reduced funding that has led leadership to make programmatic cuts.
The school’s approved application was for 250 students in Year 1 with reliance on state/local funds generated by student enrollment. At the time of its final meeting with CSAC, the school had 124 students enrolled with a budget also reliant on private fundraising and a line of credit.
Following a public comment period, including two public hearings, Secretary of Education Steve Godowsky presented his decision to the State Board of Education for its assent Thursday.
“While the public record demonstrates that the school’s leadership and founding board are committed to the school, the low number of students and low levels of state and local funding raise too many concerns about Delaware STEM’s financial stability,” Godowsky said. “My review of the documents led me to the same conclusion as that of the accountability committee – that the school has failed to meet legal standards for financial viability and fidelity to the approved charter.”
The state will assist the families of the students who planned to attend the school this fall in enrolling in other schools. The children are able to return to the district schools in their home feeder patterns or choice into another district or charter school.
In terms of students being able to choice into another charter school, that is only if the charter school has openings. If a charter is full and there is a waitlist, these students would not be able to automatically just choice in.