Crazy Press Release Coming From Smyrna School District!

Why did the Smyrna School District wait so long to release this information?  Is it because of what happened in Florida two days ago with the school shooting that killed 17 students and staff?  **UPDATED** I looked at the Smyrna website when I posted this and it did not have a date on the release but apparently their app on cell phones shows a date of February 6th.  Any day longer than the day of the event is too long to release this information.  I would think parents would want to know about this kind of stuff sooner!  If I had to guess, they are being proactive while facing some type of lawsuit over what happened!

SMYRNA SCHOOL DISTRICT PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE PUBLICATION

On January 24, 2018, a gunman shot 16 people in a school in Kentucky. Two days later, the Administration of the Smyrna School District received a credible report that a named high school student had brought a handgun with him to school and also had a brother at the middle school. The report described the handgun in detail and alleged that the student in question maintained gang affiliations.

An enrollment check revealed that the identified subject had withdrawn from the Smyrna School District. However, the sibling was in school. Given the specificity of the report and its reference to the middle school sibling, Administration and law enforcement immediately initiated a response to protect the health, safety and welfare of all students and staff.

Fortunately, no weapon was found. The Administration contacted the parents of the student, and in concert with local law enforcement, closed the investigation before the end of the school day on January 26th.

It has been alleged that District Administration engaged in an act of racial discrimination by searching the middle school student. First, given the detailed threat that jeopardized lives, swift and discrete action that returned the student to class immediately was necessary. That the student happened to be of a certain race is of no consequence, as the Administration would have interviewed any student under the circumstances, given the exigency of the potential threat. Second, the student was not searched. Given that he was not attired such that he could conceal a weapon on his person, his voluntary turning out of his pockets satisfied staff that he did not present a threat.

SMYRNA SCHOOL DISTRICT
82 Monrovia Ave.
Smyrna, Delaware 19977
(302) 653-8585 Fax (302) 653-3429
Patrik D. Williams, Superintendent

DAPSS Qualified Curriculum Director Rips School Leadership In Public Hearing

I heard the Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security Public Hearing the other night was off the hook, but I had no idea!  Today, the Delaware Department of Education Charter School Office released the transcript of the hearing.  Their Curriculum Director, Erica Thomas, went after school leadership over her many attempts to get a better curriculum going in the school but felt she was ultimately stymied in her efforts.

One criticism I received recently was that I am under-qualified to be the Director of Curriculum and Instruction — coming from someone who does not have a degree — a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and experience in various aspects above and beyond that within the educational community — I find this disrespectful because my efforts have been stymied by the lack of educational leadership at the Academy which before I arrived was filled with nepotism and cronyism.

Maybe if the Delaware DOE was paying attention they would have been able to catch that nepotism and cronyism.  It wasn’t exactly a state secret on how bad this school was doing for many years, but the Delaware DOE turned a blind eye until they couldn’t.  But I digress…

I came to this school and stepped up to the challenge to improve things for students. I was told I was going to be given autonomy to create changes. However, through Academy leadership, education best practices were secondary to maintaining personal relationships. Moreover, I was undermined and a culture of distrust and suspicion was created.

As mentioned in her testimony, Thomas came to the school in August of 2016.  This was way after the school had low enrollment and proficiency issues.  Any school turnaround takes time and doesn’t happen overnight.

I came in with a strategic plan implementing LF, Read 180, IXL, many other research-based practices that we’ve put in place, and we will give you in the CSAC rebuttal. I know the Academy is capable of doing a whole lot better than what the achievement scores show, but I was stymied in my implementation of a teaching/learning model through a series of professional development and professional learning communities.

It sounds to me like she was making a valiant effort to improve things.  I’m surprised the school didn’t already have some of these key programs in the school already!

I came to the Academy to raise expectations. I came to the Academy with all of the greatest intentions. I still believe in the school and its mission. The students and staff deserve a whole lot better, but that starts at the very top. It has been made very clear to me that I am not the top. I have taken directives. I have finished tasks and I did as a good soldier would. That’s it.

Wow!  Is that coming from new Board President Margie Lopez-Waite or the vastly under-qualified Head of School Herbert Sheldon?  Or both?  Lopez-Waite comes from the MBNA/Bank of America world.  While she may have performed miracles at Las Americas ASPIRA Academy (or did she just cheerlead the school while others did all the work?), it sounds like she came into DAPSS wanting to run the show.  She may be President of the Board but that does not give her the unilateral ability to do as she pleases.    It sounds like the school tried to make Thomas the sacrificial lamb in this process.  From everything I’ve seen and heard, it sounds like the biggest problem at the school is Sheldon himself!

I find it ironic that someone with an advanced degree in education with extensive knowledge of educational best practices is treated like this but their Head of School basically has a bookkeeping background at East Side Charter School.  It doesn’t seem right.  If charters are to ultimately survive, they need people with deep education backgrounds.  I’m not sure what happened as a result of Thomas’ comments, but she no longer appears on the school website.

Meanwhile, I did receive my FOIA request back from Sheldon.  All he sent was what already appears on the school’s website.  So their huge deficit will have to be discovered another way.

The rest of the Public Hearing is below.  Aside from Thomas’ controversial testimony (which also praised the school), the many public comments were in favor of the school and while many recognized the struggles of the school, it was also urged the State Board of Education keep them open.  Towards the end, the Colonial bomb is dropped by a teacher.  And a big thank you to the excellent transcriptionist at Wilcox & Fetzer who always do a great job with these Public Hearings!

Nick Manolakos’ Journey At Odyssey Comes To An End. What Is His Next Move?

Dr. Nick Manolakos, the long-time Headmaster of Odyssey Charter School is no longer serving in that capacity.  What he does next may not be what many folks expected to happen. Continue reading Nick Manolakos’ Journey At Odyssey Comes To An End. What Is His Next Move?

John Young, Ghost Hunter

Christina School District Board of Education member John Young has taken up a new calling, that of Ghost Hunter.  After my post about The Moldy Ghost of Pulaski Elementary, Young decided to take a look for himself.  This is what he found:

Yes, that is an empty room.  No dusty cobwebs.  No ectoplasmic goo.  No police tape of any sort.  And no ghosts.  This is their old computer room.  If I had to hazard a guess, the school is under capacity as it is and given that this was the epicenter of the 2016 Moldgate issue, they decided to keep it closed.  I do have to say, for a closed room that floor looks sparkly clean.

I guess John Young ain’t afraid of no ghosts.  However, I am hearing about a new apparition at Bancroft Elementary School, on their 3rd floor…

Should Teachers Be Able To Arm Themselves In Schools? Take The Poll & Discuss!

In the wake of the very tragic Florida school shooting, the pros and cons of teachers arming themselves in schools is coming up in a big way on social media.  I am very curious as to your thoughts on this.  Please take the poll and feel free to leave your thoughts.  I would just ask that you be respectful to both sides in your comments.

Rape At Least Two Students & Get Probation? Something Is Wrong With Our Justice System!

Karen Brooks, a former Smyrna Middle School Special Education Diagnostician, pled guilty to raping two underage students.  Her sentence? Probation!  They could have set a crystal-clear example with her and given her jail time, but no, they give her probation.

According to Craig Anderson with Delaware State News (who has hit grand slam home runs lately by the way), reported the following: Continue reading Rape At Least Two Students & Get Probation? Something Is Wrong With Our Justice System!

Sussex Montessori Appears To Be Clueless On Special Education & Basic Charter Formation

Sussex Montessori School went through their first Charter School Accountability Committee meeting in their application process.  I thought for sure, given this was their second attempt to apply for a charter, they would get it right and everything would be smooth sailing.  Instead, their application is missing a lot of information.  The committee smacked them up and down the court.

These are my favorite quotes from the report: Continue reading Sussex Montessori Appears To Be Clueless On Special Education & Basic Charter Formation

The Moldy Ghost Of Pulaski Elementary

I’ve heard some spin in my day, but this one takes the moldy cake!  Remember Moldgate at Pulaski Elementary School in the Christina School District back in the Fall of 2016?  They cleaned it all out and everything was back to normal.  Right?  Not so fast.

Apparently, the mold is back in the basement of Pulaski Elementary.  So the school closed it off to students.  But they aren’t telling students and parents that.  No, they are basing the basement closure on ghosts.  The Hispanic Spanish students won’t go down in the basement because it is haunted.  The Pulaski Legend has it the school was built on a burial ground and those spirits are rising up causing mischief in the Pulaski basement.  Why these ghosts would confine their activities to a basement when they could just as easily float up to the rest of the school is beyond me.  I didn’t see a Paranormal Director on the Christina organizational chart.  But they must be pretty smart to be able to confine these spirits to one very specific area at the school that just so happened to be the epicenter of a major mold issue at the school.

I truly wish I was making this up.  I wish this wasn’t a real post.  I wish administrators were not THIS dumb.  But it appears they are.  Who you gonna call?