Transparency in public education is a must. When more than a quarter of Delaware’s state budget goes to public education, the citizens expect, and rightfully so, transparency. But some of our districts and charters struggle with transparency.
I haven’t done this since 2016, but I thought it was a good time to see how Delaware’s traditional school district and charter school boards were doing with transparency on their websites. I checked for board minutes, board agendas, and board audio recordings.
Caesar Rodney, Brandywine and Laurel failed abysmally with audio recordings. The state law making it mandatory went into effect in August 2016. Caesar Rodney has NEVER posted audio recordings on their website. Brandywine (March 2018) and Laurel (December 2017) are very behind in posting their audio recordings. House Bill #61, signed into law by Governor Markell in May of 2016, mandated school boards must record. Kilroy (the blogger) pushed this for years and wouldn’t stop until it passed. Caesar Rodney, with two attorneys on their board (and one of them is a House of Representatives attorney running for a State Representative seat), should definitely know better. I sent their entire board and their Superintendent an email last night indicating they are breaking state law and I fully expect them to post their board audio recordings going forward. If they don’t, I will gladly call them out on it every single month. Woodbridge hasn’t posted their June, 2018 board audio recording yet. I can’t fathom why Brandywine and Laurel just stopped recording their board meetings. Maybe they did but they didn’t post them to their website which is part of the law.
**UPDATED, 11:13am: As of 11:13am this morning, both Caesar Rodney and Brandywine have updated their websites with their audio recordings. As well, Brandywine has updated their board minutes. That was FAST! Especially given it happened overnight during a summer weekend.
Every single charter school records their meetings although a few have run behind on posting them to their website. Those are Charter School of New Castle, Charter School of Wilmington, Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security, Delaware Military Academy, Early College High School, East Side, First State Military Academy, Freire, Gateway Lab School, and Positive Outcomes.
**UPDATED, 7:15pm: Charter School of Wilmington has updated their website. Gateway Lab School as well!
In terms of board minutes, the following offenders need to get their act together: Brandywine, Early College High School, and Gateway Lab School. I didn’t list those who are behind a month on this but there really is no excuse.
For agendas, I offer no mercy on these. State law is very strict that board agendas be posted seven days before a public meeting. And board meetings count as a public meeting. The lawbreakers with this law are Laurels School District and First State Montessori Academy. Those are Freedom of Information Act violations under public meeting law.
Those who are fully compliant in all three transparency areas I checked are Appoquinimink, Cape Henlopen, Capital, Christina, Colonial, Delmar, Lake Forest, Milford, New Castle County Vo-Tech, Polytech, Red Clay, Seaford, Smyrna, Sussex Tech, Academia Antonia Alonso, Academy of Dover, Campus Community, Great Oaks, Kuumba, Las Americas ASPIRA, MOT, Newark Charter School, Odyssey, Providence Creek, Sussex Academy, and Thomas Edison. Great job!
For the most part, many of our school districts and charters were fully compliant with transparency laws. The charter schools have come a long way since I last did this. I do wish charter schools wouldn’t skip months for board meetings. I’ve always believed that for any district or charter to be effective, board meetings should be held every single month. But for charters that isn’t written into state code so I can’t hold them accountable for that.
I also listed all district and charter school board members in the below document. Some of these could off based on the last school board elections. I tried to make adjustments as I could. As well, many traditional school districts are meeting this week and will vote on new school board Presidents and Vice Presidents so many of these could change.