When you have 24 charter schools in a state, 22 of which are authorized by the state Department of Education, there are going to be years where the amount of charter renewals are going to go up. This fall, the Delaware DOE Charter School Office and the Charter School Accountability Committee are going to have their hands full as seven charter schools go through their renewal process.
Delaware Design-Lab High School, First State Military Academy, Freire, Great Oaks, Kuumba Academy, Newark Charter School, and Positive Outcomes are on the docket for the charter school renewal process. Actually, this process began for all involved this Spring when the Charter School Office sent out the initial renewal reports for each school.
For Kuumba, Newark Charter, and Positive Outcomes, this is not their first rodeo. But for the other four, all of which opened in the 2015-2016 school year, this will be their first go-around with this. Another charter school that opened in that school year will not face this process since the State Board of Education yanked the Delaware MET charter after four months. They closed less than a month later.
The last Delaware charter school that did not have their charter renewed was Delaware College Prep in 2015. But that charter was authorized by the Red Clay Consolidated School District.
For those who are new to this process, it typically goes like this:
The Charter School Accountability Committee (CSAC) will meet with the schools in October followed by a public hearing. In November, CSAC meets for a final time with the seven schools with another public hearing. At the December State Board of Education meeting, Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting will give her recommendation for the charter renewals and the State Board will vote.
In 2014, the renewal process led to a nasty outcome for Family Foundations Academy. It came out their Heads of School were using the school finances as their own personal ATM machine. Since the not-so-great charter school financial scandals that came out in 2014-2015, the renewal and formal review process has been quieter.
It is widely expected Newark Charter School will get their charter renewed for ten years. Typically it is five years, but schools that show “significant academic achievement” can get the ten-year nod. This happened for Sussex Academy last year, the first DOE authorized charter to get this.
As of today, the Delaware DOE has not announced a replacement for Denise Stouffer, who resigned as the head of the Charter School Office last month.