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.
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.