Christina Board Meeting Agenda Has A Nuclear Action Item For Consideration Next Week

The Christina Board of Education voted last week to accept the settlement concerning the lawsuit filed by 15 charters against them and the Delaware DOE.  Next week, an action item submitted by a board member could cause a tsunami of controversy.  As well, there is another action item that will certainly cause another ordeal just by being there.

The action item on the agenda is to rescind the vote on the charter settlement from November 30th.  The board voted on that decision with a 4-3 vote.  I couldn’t agree more.  There was simply no time to fully digest the settlement in 90 minutes.  If I were the board, I would have asked for a full financial impact on the district for current funds as well as future funds.  The addition of the tuition tax in the settlement came out of left field.  The settlement also sets up future fighting between the charters and local school districts.  So in terms of settling the matter, it opened up a whole other can of worms.

The number one question on the minds of the Christina board should be the chicken or the egg question: who offered the settlement idea in the first place.  If the Christina administration did it without the consent of the board, that raises some very serious questions about the validity of the settlement.  Last night, I posted the letter Greg Meece sent to Newark Charter School parents which threw a lot of darts at Christina.  It was almost like the NCS crowd is this elite little club the rest of the world isn’t supposed to see.  Meece doesn’t realize we are well into the 21st Century and the days of secrecy are over.  His comment about the attorney fees being paid by both the DOE and Christina suggests something that negates the spirit of the settlement.

christinabdmtgagenda111316

As you can see in the above picture, there is also an action item to annul the board approval of the Christiana High School Honors Academy.  Many opponents of this plan felt it was disingenuous to the other middle schools and would take “smarter” students from their schools.

I would strongly encourage all those who think the decision to approve the settlement was very rushed to attend this board meeting at Gauger-Cobbs Middle School, Tuesday December 13th.  The board will go into executive session and will meet for public session at 7pm.  I would go prepared to give public comment in opposition to this settlement.  The board allows three minutes for public comment.

If I were a betting man, I would guess both of these action items were submitted by board members who voted no on the original votes.  Which would leave members Elizabeth Paige, Shirley Saffer, or John Young.  Or it could have been submitted by a board member who had a change of heart on their yes vote following the very controversial items surrounding this settlement, such as the settlement agreement getting out there before it was finalized.  that would leave members George Evans, Meg Mason, Harrie-Ellen Minnehan, or Fred Polaski.  If there is even a hint that the board wasn’t given all of the information about the settlement prior to their vote, that will have to come up during the meeting.  Will anyone from the NCS crowd come?  Will Senator David Sokola and other legislators show up for this vote?  If Christina does negate the vote on the settlement, would that kill the Delaware DOE settlement with the charters?  What would happen after that?  Would it have to go before the judge on merits of good cause?

I expect no shortage of fireworks at this meeting.  Paige might want to give her hands a very good warm-up.  I believe that gavel is going to be very active next Tuesday night.

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26 thoughts on “Christina Board Meeting Agenda Has A Nuclear Action Item For Consideration Next Week

  1. Hey Kev, I know I’m just a stupid teacher, but I find this method of recalling a motion after its expiration very ingenious, although ultimately futile. It also narrows down who might have requested the action items be placed on the agenda.

    For my two cents, I’d be surprised if the Board President didn’t rule a motion on either of those two items out of order, as they are, according to Robert’s Rules. Specifically, a motion, once passed, can only be rescinded or annulled if the result of the motion has not gone public, or if the action is not irreversible. A settlement is a legal document and has been signed by many, if not all (by now) of the other parties in the settlement. The district cannot simply white-out its signature. As for the Academy, parents and the community have already been notified, and students are submitting applications. Therefore it is an action that has been taken as a result of a motion that cannot be changed.

    In any case, it’s a truly remarkable use of some little-known features of Robert’s Rules that, under many other circumstances, would be very helpful to individuals who would like to see a motion re-do. Fortunately for me, I am aware of these things because at the NEA Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly any motion made on any of the four days of the RA can be recalled the subsequent day, but the crafty delegates have devised a way in which the motions cannot be reconsidered. That is to specifically call for, at the end of all new business item debate for that day, a reconsideration of all prior motions. Once that motion has been defeated, no motion from one day can be considered, recalled, or annulled by any subsequent motion.

    In researching why that occurred, because the first time it happened I was shocked and outraged that anyone would want to reconsider all the new business we had done, I discovered the clauses on reconsidering and recalling and annulling. It’s ingenious to use those specific clauses, as opposed to asking for a simple vote recall, but it is still out of order when it comes to Robert’s Rules, which according to board policy is the governing document for conducting board business.

    Will I see you at the meeting?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe. I haven’t looked over the documents myself. In my lay opinion, that seems like a legal challenge to the veracity of the document. It will be an interesting meeting regardless!

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  2. According to the settlement, it had to be signed by ALL parties on December 2nd. According to the latest from the News Journal, it wasn’t signed by all parties until December 5th (yesterday). Therefore, the settlement is apparently out of order. I think if the facts which lead to a vote are vague or not complete in their scope, this should be completely sufficient to rescind said vote in question.

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    1. Respectfully, a school board does not have the authority to invalidate a legal document based on that rationale. That’s a legal issue, and I would imagine the board would be within its bailiwick to direct legal counsel to investigate that and further authorize action by legal counsel on the board’s behalf based on said investigation. Overturn a legal and binding document? Seems like overreach.

      But, again, I’m just a teacher, and arguably not even a particularly bright one. I allow for the possibility that I’m completely and entirely incorrect. It will be an interesting discussion, regardless.

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      1. Why the hell do you keep saying you are not a bright teacher? That is twice you have hinted at that. I would have to surmise that is for someone else and not directed towards me because I have never suggested that. Is that document even legal though? I believe many minds are asking themselves that question right now. There are so many caveats and loopholes in that document. It almost suffocates under its own weight.

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  3. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! Annul the expansion of the honors academy at Christiana? Hey, Christina, I want options for my child. I want you stop trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. I want you to understand that one size does not fit all. I want you to learn that by diversification of programs, especially gifted and talented, you retain your brightest students. And I’d like to know of that 10 cent tax in 2003, how much of that income has been actually been spent on gifted and talented??? by school and by year!

    Stop driving parents to choose to other districts, magnets, and charters!

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    1. Mae, you don’t already know how those 2003 referendum funds were spent? I would think you should know that if you have been paying close attention. In terms of one size not fitting all, I agree. But if you have 3-4 different boxes, and you put the big stuff in one box and all the small stuff in the 2-3 other boxes, that does not make for equitable or equal boxes. It creates a situation where the big box looks letter than the smaller boxes. Not a good thing for a district to do.

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    2. do you want a 14 page application with a parent essay and state test scores to be a mandatory component of said academy? Think those filters will “work”? Mae, I KNOW you do, and to say you’re ok with it is just another step in your 17 step assimilation program that annihilates public schools.

      Come on MAE, loud and proud: CHARTER SCHOOL ARE PUBLIC SCHOOLS!! or maybe this Delaware chant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orOIPJxKNq4

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      1. Mr. Young,
        We’ve danced before.

        My son did not take the state tests last year. And asking me if I’d like to write a parent essay is no different than asking me if I’d like to be an active and supportive parent to my child’s education.

        The application is almost identical to the high school honors application. Do you have an objection to that document?

        Unless and until, you make good on your assertions that CSD can maximize its resources by closing and combining facilities, you’ll have to dance alone. If the honors program is so offensive to you, let me suggest you move to close CHS first.

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          1. Mr. Young can dance with any one he wants. I want nothing more than to hold him to his word – that he would rather see CSD close buildings and consolidate in order to provide honors classes in all schools than to open an academy in just one. It was Mr. Young who offered the nuclear option here on this blog and then failed to formally act upon it at the next board meeting.

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          2. Having a personal thought on a blog and committing to that thought in the form of an action item at a board meeting are two very different things Mae. I’m sure you can appreciate that. Something you state Mr. Young (I call him John, he is down with that) said on here would require a lot of research and analysis. It isn’t something you would introduce as an action item without any clear plan to implement that idea. That would definitely be a foolhardy gesture without any forethought. John is better than that.

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          3. Mr. Young, John, as you call him, doesn’t “think” on blogs. He parses his words quite carefully and commits them publicly. I’ve watched, read, debated. He’s always two steps ahead when he takes/took on Patriot, Publius, Greg, Minnehan, Markell, Sokola, or anyone else who differs/ed with him. It’s a marvelous things to watch the human brain in peak performance. And that truly is a compliment. Nothing back-handed about it.

            When one is an elected official, he/she should take responsibility for his/her public speech. And that speech, on your blog, under his name, is quite public. It’s not a personal musing.

            But, I’m not trying to initiate a war. I really am just a mom who wants something more for the kids in my district. I do especially want a program where my son feels he will be accepted because of his intelligence and not mistreated by peers that he can’t comprehend b/c of his social awkwardness as a part of his disability.

            What’s wrong with wanting this for my child? If you look back, there was a day, I wrote that this honors program is dead before it even gets a chance to breathe. And this action item is the nail in the coffin. The day I wrote that, I immediately stopped talking about the program with my child b/c I feared it would never come to fruition. And then this week, he came home telling me all about it. And how excited he was because he might be able to get in and how some of his peers have already gotten their letters of recommendation from teachers. And that’s what this motion will do to my child – take away his hope.

            And that really is all I have to say on this topic.

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          4. I can certainly understand how that would be distressing. I do have a couple of questions though. You stated your child is on a 504 plan and he is considered talented and gifted. But you also stated he has a disability. Why is he not on an IEP if he has a documented disability? I’m not asking this to be a pain, but I am very curious.
            I actually talked about how you feel your son has been treated the other night at the ESSA discussion group I’m in. I told the group that instead of keeping disabilities all hush-hush, we should be celebrating students with disabilities. Making students and staff fully aware of the disability(s) and their manifestations. Awareness is more important than getting into an Honors Academy, in my opinion. That would do more for his social awkwardness than anything else. Because in his life, he will be surrounded by those who don’t understand him. One day it will be his job to advocate for himself. By not having him deal with that now, it could cause problems later on. Just my two cents…

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          5. Kevin,

            Let me reiterate I am done talking about the honors academy. But, I will answer your questions. A child can have a physical, developmental, or emotional disability, qualify for a 504, and not qualify for an IEP. In our case, the 504 plan adequately addresses his needs.

            Delaware also, in some cases, uses an educational diagnosis protocol whereas a doctor may dx a child with a disability like autism but the evaluating team of a school may not deem that child to have an educational dx and therefore deny an IEP under those terms. Sometimes they substitute a differing educational dx in order to provide either a 504 or IEP.

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        1. MAE,

          I served with a board member some years ago, Elizabeth Scheinberg, who would eviscerate you on this. I wish she was still active in defense of public schools, but she’s backed off. She has a voice unrivaled. I admire her intellect and her prose more than she ever knows or that I’ve ever told her I fear. She would know, so viscerally, that the parent essay is a shallow proxy for determining if the child is living in a literate, functioning household which she then would assuredly conclude and school MAE that such almost always follows economic circumstance and sadly, race.

          The ONLY way she wouldn’t come on this blog as herself to back me up 100%, is if she’s you. And if she’s you, then my mind will be blown and my heart broken, again.

          Let’s see if she comes, shall we?

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          1. Elizabeth I. You know who reminds me of her? Elizabeth 2.0.

            Did you know that poor spelling is not an indicator of intelligence? If you dislike the parent essay so much, amend the application to your liking. Don’t kill the program.

            Done.

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  4. Kevin, I never felt I needed to ask for an itemized list of G&T expenses. I trusted that those funds were being spent appropriately. Now, I’m not so sure. Not so sure of a lot happening in CSD these days. Not saying I’m siding with charterland. Just saying my trust is shaken in our education providers universally. But, CSD is meaningful to me b/c I am tax payer and I have a student there and that student is super excited about the honors academy that his G&T teacher has talked about and offered to write recommendations for. The honors academy is real life for us. Not some concept that the board rushed through, not an artificial deadline the board set – but a program the board passed and has begun accepting applications for. As far as your boxes – education does not look the same for every child. When you are constantly strapped for funding, you have to maximize every dollar. CSD didn’t put mandarin Chinese in every school. They made you have to choice your child to Downes if you wanted that program but didn’t live in the feeder zone. Depending on where you live, if you want your middle schooler to have a more full experience with FFA, you have to choice them to Kirk. If you want business, you have to choice to Gauger and if you want a more generalized experience you have Shue. I’m too far removed to know what’s offered in the city, it wasn’t a school I could drive my child to. You see, CSD is already putting kids in different boxes. They just aren’t advertising it that way. How is an honors academy so different? The sin is that the petition was only circulated in limited areas. Had there been a survey monkey for parents to provide input, I’d put my money on the honors academy. CSD did one for school start times. But, not honors. That’s disparity. More than that, I think the board is holding our children back because some folks are beholden to a fear that this honors academy will be predominantly white and middle class. So, I ask, what is the make-up of the students in the high school honors academy? What are those demographics? That might inform quite a few people, it’s not what you assume, as I’ve been told. We are not living in a perfect edusphere. The district cannot provide a full-child honors academic day in every middle school because we don’t have enough money or resources. But, clearly, at least half the board felt the resources could be maximized by providing a central program, like ffa, business, and mandarin Chinese. Education is not meant to be run like a business, but it still demands an ROI. And it’s time to invest on G&T kids. They are just as important those children protected under IDEA.

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    1. You state education shouldn’t be run like a business, but then you talk about a Return on Investment. Investment is the key to business. The problem with education is there has been so much investment in different programs it has definitively created a scenario where there has never been more of a divide between the haves and the have nots. What I don’t get is your constant pointing of the finger at Christina. For what it’s worth, I don’t agree at all with how the World Language Immersion program has been set up in many districts. They put a pretty bow on it and call it a special program but when you come right down to it, it is a language class. But it goes beyond that to make it so children are speaking in that language most of the day once they are proficient in it. That is not a program for all students, and the fact that students with disabilities are told they shouldn’t apply for it because of the “rigor” involved or low-income students may not have access to the program because of transportation issues is very concerning. We are already seeing, within districts, that divide happening. Your need to beat on a school district that has more challenges and issues than even 15 charter schools combined is very alarming. You state every child is different but you keep holding up a district to charter schools. Can you say with 100% certainty that ALL schools are using funds the way they are supposed to? I can’t. I know this. I’ve seen it. No one is coding anything in the state accounting system and it is ripe for abuse or carelessness. You stated gifted and talented kids are just as important as children protected under IDEA. Every student is important. But students with disabilities need more resources and supports than a talented and gifted child. When we start taking away inclusion and creating programs for those gifted and talented kids, we are creating more of a challenge for students with disabilities. As well as those who do not have access, for one reason or another, to the kind of programs you want. When you have one high school in a district, it is easier to have those programs. But when you have multiple high schools or middle schools, it is a demographic pressure valve just waiting to explode. Why are we so insistent on putting even gifted and talented kids under the “rigor” microscope? It’s not like our standardized test scores (a faulty measurement to be sure) are through the roof. And those schools that are… we know the deal with them. I don’t like using test scores to determine the value of a school, but in implementing all these programs, that is exactly what we are doing. It will create more “priority schools” and more “reward schools”. We are tearing education apart with this crap. If some members of a board are “holding children back” as you put it, I would look at the reality facing Delaware, especially in Northern New Castle County. By lifting up certain students, how many children are already being held back? We need to balance the scales and stop pretending.

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  5. We must agree to disagree. I know I won’t change your mind. I hold CSD to the microscope because it’s my district. I don’t live in Red Clay or Capital or Indian River. Actually, you live down south and spend a lot of time writing about CSD. At least, I live in this district and am trusting CSD to deliver on the promises of a great education for each child. I’m not a politician, not a board member, just a private citizen who has the right to care about my children. And while I advocate for the honors program for middle school, I also keep in mind that my child has a 504. He’s not just gifted, he’s challenged. However, I still believe he has a shot, like a lot of other doubly gifted children. And if he’s not accepted, then he’s not accepted. But, CSD will still have an asset that’s attractive to a demographic that feels their children have been neglected by the district for years.

    Alas, we disagree.

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    1. CSD makes the most news! But more than that, there are board members willing to publicly question what I view as bad education policy happening in our schools. Does that make CSD more attractive to me in regards to what I choose to write about? Sure. I see certain parts of Christina as the Rebels against the mighty Empire. Have you ever been to a Capital board meeting? I have. If you compare them to a Christina board meeting, it is the difference between a meal at McDonald’s and Tavern on the Green in terms of drama. Nothing against the folks in Capital, but they are very by the book with their meetings and there isn’t a whole lot of discussion or disagreement with board members. So there is that. Whether I live there or not does not factor in my decision to write about them. I wish I did live there so I could go to more board meetings.
      Your “qualifications” about your right to care for your child are not exactly one hundred percent honest in their assertions. I would be perfectly comfortable in saying you have a semblance of influence on the district and you haven’t exactly shied away from doing so. I believe every child is gifted and talented in their own way. I also think every single student is challenged in some way and it is our job as parents and educators to help them overcome those challenges. But I don’t believe “talented and gifted” should be what has become: non-inclusive talented and gifted programs where only the best can get in. Because invariably, that is what they become. It is the same drum I beat on the charter schools over. I hold all schools in Delaware under the microscope, but I hold the state under an even bigger one. When unfunded mandates and laws create the situation where middle school honor academies exist in the first place, I will call them out on it. As well as the districts that roll them out. I’ve done the same thing with World Language Immersion programs for well over a year now.
      One final note, I will write about what I want to write about on my blog. I earned that right when I signed up for my own blog with WordPress. You are certainly able to exert that same right.

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  6. I didn’t mean to strike a nerve, Kevin.

    I was responding to this statement that you made:

    “What I don’t get is your constant pointing of the finger at Christina.”

    In my response, I explained what my vested interest is. Why I “point” at Christina. I live here and pay taxes here and rely on CSD to educate my son. I want more for CSD and the children it serves.

    And I completely disagree with the idea that, here in 2016, I have any influence over CSD. There may be a handful of folks who treat me respectfully, but I tend to believe that it’s bc they are treating me the same way that they treat all the other parents in the room. Literally, all the other parents in the room. Not figuratively. I may have committed CSD’s history to memory, but I have no more influence than any other parent over the direction of its future.

    I never intimated that you couldn’t write about anything on your blog. I never even suggested it. Nor would I.

    And, yes, I have been to a Capital meeting. Boring as hell.

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