That didn’t take long. Three days ago, the Christina board agreed to the settlement. Last night it went public. Delaware Liberal has the whole thing in all its glory. From what I’ve read, the district is off the hook for any back exclusions. There will be a one-time payout for this year of $150,000 plus the per student allocation from a 2003 referendum that amounts to 10 cents for every $100 worth of assessed property value. Christina will pay out the charter school payment part of the $5.5 million they received from the last fiscal year. But going forward…
DOE will have to determine the exclusions and let the charters review them before the annual determination is made. Tuition tax will now be a part of the local district payments to charter schools if the charter has comparable special education services to Christina. Which explains why Newark Charter School took in a special needs child over the summer. As the parent wrote in comments on this blog, this student was 17th on the wait list at NCS. One day the parent got a call from the school and her child was in. That would mean a student left and sixteen parents said no or left the school. The parent did reach out to me to let me know NCS does not have a football team and that with students who may have moved played a factor. As well, the parent states the school was not aware her daughter had special needs and had to scramble a week before school to make sure she got a one-on-one para. They also said there are quite a few students at NCS with either Downs Syndrome or autism that have one-on-one paras.
The settlement also allows for both parties to claim or not claim exclusions from the Match tax. Which means more headaches in the future. I have to wonder how all the other school districts feel about part of their tuition tax now going to charter schools if the charters meet that “need”. Is this why Appoquinimink hiked up their tuition tax last summer? Did they know what the charters were planning back then?
This settlement releases the charter schools claims against Christina and their CFO, Robert Silber. But they also filed against the Delaware Dept. of Education. I don’t see language releasing the DOE. Is their suit against the DOE still alive?
I would attach the Scribd document from Delaware Liberal, but the ink isn’t dry on the settlement yet. Thirteen charters, the Christina board President, and Silber all signed. That leaves two more charters. Not a (legal) done deal yet. But why aren’t all the signatures by the President of each charter board? Some are. Some are signed by the Head of School or a title similar to that. But the board is the legal entity behind a charter school, not the Head of School. I suppose it would depend on the ability of a Head of School to legally bind the corporation to this settlement. I don’t have time right now to look through the bylaws of fifteen charter schools. I would think an interim principal, like the one at Great Oaks, does not have that kind of authority.
Out of everything I’ve written about this whole Christina/charter school funding war, beginning at the end of August, as well as the countless other articles in Delaware media, one question still hasn’t been answered. What made Greg Meece, Steve Dressel, and Joanne Schlossberg from NCS request a meeting with the Delaware DOE and Christina to discuss the local funding formula? In other words, for 13 years, this 2003 referendum and the 10 cent thing was in play. DOE signed off in it each year. But Greg Meece found out about this earlier this year which prompted this whole thing. Who told Meece about it? Meece would have gone after this a long time ago had he known about it. So who betrayed Christina? It had to be someone with inside knowledge of the district’s finances. Someone who knew a 13 year history of the finances. Someone with a deep understanding of school finances. Someone who had the motive and means and willingness to go after Christina. Someone who didn’t care that this would affect tens of thousands of kids across the state. Someone who didn’t care that telling Meece this would instantly cause him to bite the apple and unleash a lot of crap on the Delaware education world. That is cold and unfeeling. I am about 99.9% sure of who you are. I’ve known for a long time. I know how you like to play the long con. I also know how you play people. I know who your allies are and who your enemies are. One day, your actions will come out. And your justification for this does nothing. Not when your sins will cause thousands of students who already had less to lose out even more. You sold out the kids you claim to stand for. It doesn’t balance any scales and it doesn’t even begin to absolve you. You aren’t that crafty. I saw you coming a mile away.
This is a shakedown no matter how you slice it. The Delaware DOE, who approved the exclusions for all these years, gets the stiff penalty of having to do some more paperwork, something they thrive at already. In the settlement, Secretary Godowsky escapes any blame by simply stating he wasn’t aware of the exclusions. Which could very well be true since he wasn’t confirmed by the Delaware Senate until October, 2015. But all the former Secretaries of Education would have known: Mark Murphy, Lillian Lowery, and Valarie Woodruff. Why weren’t they named in the lawsuit if the charter schools had allegations going back to 2003?
I see this as just one more nail in the coffin of public education. Now this opens the door for charter schools to get more funds from a referendum. Funds earmarked for a district are now questionable. Unless some shady deal went down at some point between 2003 and 2015, Christina is not to blame. So why on earth would they settle? I highly doubt their attorney fees would have climbed higher than the results of this settlement. There is no possible way ninety minutes was enough time for their board to digest this settlement. I read it last night and I still have many doubts.
The whole part about Christina paying $150,000 as a “one-time payment”? That reeks of the amount Saul Ewing will charge the charter schools for their legal fees. Wasn’t the Longwood Foundation going to pay for them?
This will be seen as a victory by many charter school parents, especially the ones at Newark Charter School. They will point fingers at Christina and say “See, you settled, it was your fault.” This is not a win for kids.