Newark Charter School: Where Is Your Outreach Plan? We Have Been Waiting Four Years…

When Newark Charter School had its major modification for their high school approved in 2012, then Secretary of Education Lillian Lowery gave very specific conditions for the approval.  One of them was to offer free and reduced lunch for the students of NCS.  Another was to develop an outreach plan so their demographics were more consistent with that of the 5 mile radius they draw students from.  The below letter from Lillian Lowery was written about a month before she resigned as the Secretary.  But this was their approval.  Some have referred to this as “The Lowery Doctrine”.

It is obvious the Board of Directors at Newark Charter School have ignored this condition to their modification.  Four years later and a Delaware Secretary of Education has yet to see their Outreach Plan.  Lowery never got it.  Murphy never got it.  Godowsky never got it.  But here was are, as Newark Charter School has its first graduating class, and NO Outreach Plan.  As of their September 30th count by last school year, they had less African-American students than the year before.  They did go up in students with disabilities from 5.6% to 6.5%.  And their Hispanic population went up a little bit.  But that is not the same as an actual Outreach plan.  Where is this NCS Head of School Greg Meece?  For all the talk and bluster coming out of this school, no one at the top of this school has delivered what they were supposed to.  I’ve heard parents say they are attempting to rectify their demographic situation, but when they were given a direct order by the Dept. of Education, they blew it off.  For a school that seems to want others to follow their perceived notion of “the letter of the law” they sure do cherry-pick what to follow…

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12 thoughts on “Newark Charter School: Where Is Your Outreach Plan? We Have Been Waiting Four Years…

  1. So…instead of reviewing the school’s outreach plan and evaluating it on the basis of it’s own merits, you focus on whether or not it was approved by the Secretary of Education. That interesting observation aside, there was no mention of implementing an outreach “plan” in Secretary Lowery’s letter. Her exact wording was “development and implementation of a significant outreach effort to those underrepresented populations within the five mile preference area.” She concludes her letter by saying, “…the Department will review this issue carefully when NCS seeks its next charter renewal and will be inclined to impose additional conditions in the absence of significant progress on this issue.” Since NCS’s charter has been renewed several times since the modification and the current Secretery has not imposed “additional conditions”, I think we all can rightfully conclude that NCS is doing a stellar job of working to increase the underrepresented groups at the school.

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    1. I’m sorry, when has NCS charter been renewed since this modification? I looked since the FY2013 school year and don’t see it has come up for charter renewal at all. In fact, they appear to be on some ten year plan which is ludicrous in my opinion.

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      1. You are correct, and my mistake. I confused teacher contracts, which are renewed annually, with the charter renewal process. I would still argue that the DOE’s silence on the school’s outreach efforts is a tacit endorsement of those efforts, no?

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  2. So why then is the DOE’s silence of CSD’s exclusions for years considered a tacit approval? Why wouldn’t you conclude, just as you have with NCS’s outreach efforts, that their silence means “time to move on to bigger and better things and hope people forget”? Seems a little inconsistent. Just sayin.

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    1. You are asking me to logically explain the motivations to explain what goes on at the Delaware DOE. The difference is, no matter what the view is on Christina’s exclusions, the DOE signed off on them. The Secretary did not do anything with the NCS Outreach Plan. There is a key difference there. Eventually, a judge will decide on the Christina exclusion issue. But would the DOE not doing anything with an actual condition of the approval of a major modification ever wind up in court? I would tend to doubt it. Even if NCS used 100% fidelity in their Outreach Plan, the fact remains the Delaware Secretary of Education has a legal obligation to make sure this happens based on a certain condition. If this did wind up in court, could a judge take away the State Board of Education’s approval of NCS major modification? Conceivably. Which would mean no more Newark Charter High School. Granted, I live in a place called reality that suggests that would never happen, just putting it out there.

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  3. I’ll freely admit that I don’t know the intricacies of the DOE’s approval process for local funding exclusions, but my understanding is there was no formal approval of the exclusions each year. Instead, there was negative confirmation each year (i.e. they didn’t say yes, but they didn’t tell us no so we’re all good) and these exclusions were allowed to in-effect rollover year after year unchecked. When these exclusions finally were challenged under the light of day they were found to be outside the parameters of the current law. When the exclusions were actually reviewed and rolled back, that decision was reversed under the weight of public pressure with no explanation of what changed.

    While I agree that it would be an exercise in futility to try to determine the thinking of the DOE on certain matters, I would still argue they are consistently inconsistent in their behavior so it doesn’t make sense to credit them with actually reviewing CSD exclusions every year unless there was formal approval given each year. If there was, I have not heard that version of this story.

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