For well over two years, Providence Creek Academy has been searching for a new Head of School. Let me repeat that. For over two years. And guess who is on the committee to hire a new Head of School? Chuck Taylor. The not-so-interim and more like permanent Head of School. How many interviews have they had? What is the hold up? If I were a betting man, Chuck is so glued to that school he weeds out anyone who could possibly replace him. In reviewing their board minutes for the past nine months, there has not been one mention of this committee or any type of interviews for a candidate.
I’ve always been curious how a charter school leader can hold that position when they aren’t even certified to do so. We hold that standard for traditional school districts, why not a charter school? This came up with the Delaware DOE during the school’s renewal a year and a half ago but I haven’t heard squat about it since. I would have to believe more than a handful of qualified candidates knocked on their door for this job. I have a sneaky feeling there are some in the PCA community who are wondering the same thing. How they aren’t exactly enamored with Chuck in this role. That they may be questioning his ability to effectively govern the school with his qualifications. I’ve also heard, and not just recently, that he rules over the school AND the board with an iron fist. A season of discontent? You better believe it! Many feel Taylor abuses his position and he owns their Board of Directors.
When he isn’t busy with PCA, Chuck helps out with the Delaware Charter Schools Network as the President of their board. He also serves on the Charter School Accountability Committee at the Delaware Department of Education. How does a former shop teacher get so involved with charter school policy at the state level? Which will be very busy in the fall with no less than five charter school renewals on their plate.
In 2013, Chuck Taylor left Providence Creek. He “resigned”. He resurfaced in the fall of 2014 after a brief stint as interim Head of School at Campus Community School in Dover. The circumstances surrounding his sudden “resignation” are mysterious. I’m sure the reasons are tied up in some type of non-disclosure agreement. But when truly strange things started happening at the school in October of 2014 and many became worried about school safety and security, Taylor came back. It was meant to be temporary, but two years and eight months later he is still there. He guided the school through their renewal process last year but during all that one of their former employees was named in an audit investigation and alleged to have embezzled money from the school.
In April, the PCA Foundation was approved as a 501c3 non-profit. Somehow, this will allow the school to get a loan from the USDA according to their April board minutes. It also appears the Delaware Department of Finance approved the school for procurement cards with a maximum limit of $5000. Their board minutes do not specify how many p-cards the school received and which staff will receive them. The school was selected as one of two pilot schools for the changes to Delaware’s teacher evaluation system. The changes, which came from House Bill 399 last year, were not implemented at PCA and they bowed out of the new alternative pilot. They did, however, hire a non-educator to conduct their teacher evaluations at the school. This DPAS-II coordinator’s education experience consists of summer camp counselor experience. During the Spring, many parents became upset over a field trip waiver which parents felt did not adequately protect students. Quite a few spoke out in public comment during their May Board of Directors meeting.
To those who want to say “Here he goes again, bashing on charter schools”, that is NOT the case here. Aside from the ongoing Newark Charter School ruckus, I’ve probably been harder on districts than charters in the past six months. But all I will say is there is legitimate cause for concern and I’ll leave it at that. In this era of reduction in workforce notices and budget cuts, fear is a very powerful thing. I would love it if educators at PCA went on the record with whatever is going on there, but I also understand a need for staying quiet in what could very easily be seen as a hostile work environment. Delaware has fairly extensive Whistleblower laws on the books.