The Heat Is On At The Delaware DOE Building Tomorrow! Time To Fix Their Mess And Make Some Noise!

Tomorrow night, the Delaware Department of Education will hold the first meeting on education funding.  More specifically, cleaning up the hot mess where you can’t really tell how over a billion dollars in taxpayer dollars is spent.  The meeting is tomorrow (Monday) from 5-7pm at the Townsend Building in the 2nd Floor Cabinet Room.

I’ve been pushing for more transparency with this for years.  I love how the DOE ignores a federal mandate that passed in 2015 and waits three years to do something about it.  Here is the problem- none of our districts and charters code things the same way.  It makes it impossible to accurately compare.  One district may put something as “maintenance” while a charter school puts it as “operational costs”.

Nothing will satisfy me until there is a uniform coding structure for EVERYTHING.  That is the only way we can unravel what appears to be a Gordian knot.  And EVERYTHING has to be published in a clear and concise manner so people can understand it.  The current Delaware Online Checkbook is useless.  By the time you can figure the damn thing out it either freezes on you or you give up.

Senate Bill #172 is the state version of what the Every Student Succeeds Act already requires.  But it isn’t what is needed.  It would help a little bit but not the massive change that is needed.  My sense is the DOE already knows what they want and they are just putting on their dog and pony show to say the people wanted what they already want.  Seen it many times folks!  Don’t be fooled.  To read the final version of SB #172 with amendments, read here.  There should be NO exclusions when it comes to transparency of taxpayer dollars.  It is past time The First State became #1 with transparency.

If you have the means and the time, I would get there.  Sign up for public comment and just go for the throat.  Tell them you want to see every penny accounted for, by school and NO EXCEPTIONS!  You get five minutes for public comment so make it count!  This is what the DOE is looking for from the public according to their post on the Delaware Public Meeting Calendar:

The Department of Education will develop a standardized approach with input from district/charter leaders and other community members. To that end, three public meetings are scheduled for this fall so DOE can share its vision and hear from members of the public. Public comment will be limited to five minutes per person; DOE will accept written comments at any of the meetings or via email by Friday, October 12th to jennifer.roussell@doe.k12.de.us.
Both the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and Senate Bill 172, passed by the 149th General Assembly this spring, require the development of a statewide approach to define and report school-level expenditures so school leaders and the public can better compare per-pupil spending across Delaware. The Department of Education (DOE) will begin reporting school-level per-pupil expenditures in Dec. 2019.

Standardized Tests Weren’t The Only Game Jack Markell Played

Delaware’s former Governor Jack Markell was infamous for touting the Smarter Balanced Assessment as “the best test Delaware ever made”.  His very dangerous creation was a high-stakes test designed to test, label, and punish schools in Delaware with “low-performing” students.  But Markell was very used to high-stakes games.  In fact, nine months before he became Governor, it could have cost him his life! Continue reading Standardized Tests Weren’t The Only Game Jack Markell Played

Delaware Schools Reach 100% On Safety Compliance Monitoring. Does That Make Them Safe?

On September 20th, the Delaware Department of Homeland Security released the 2017-2018 annual progress report for the Comprehensive School Safety Program.  As part of the Omnibus School Safety Act, Delaware schools are required to hold different types of safety drills.  According to this report, every single public school in the state held these drills.  Does this mean our schools are safe? Continue reading Delaware Schools Reach 100% On Safety Compliance Monitoring. Does That Make Them Safe?

Official DAPSS Closure Letter

As I reported earlier tonight, the Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security is closed.  Tonight, at a public meeting with parents, the school announced the students there will have to find a new school tomorrow.

Breaking News: DAPSS Is Closed Effective Immediately!!!!

Sources from the meeting at Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security tonight are saying the Delaware charter school is shut down effective immediately.  Students have to find a new school to go to tomorrow.

Herb Sheldon and his ghost enrollments assuredly played a factor.  I can’t begin to stress how crazy this is.  He screwed over this school and now all the students will pay the price.

I’m sorry, but the Delaware Department of Education had to have some sense of how bad this was and the State Board of Education should have shut them down effective the end of the last school year.  At least that way students and families could have found new schools.  Instead, we have this.

I know folks tried to turn this ship around but it already hit the iceberg years ago.  I also feel bad for the staff who are unemployed as of tomorrow.  This has to hurt.  I know I wrote a ton about this the past year.  I really did hope they could turn it around.

**UPDATED**DAPSS In Crisis Mode As Parents Are Invited To “Special” Meeting

Updated, 3:15pm: The meeting at 7pm tonight is a regular meeting for parents.  But the DAPSS’ board is meeting from 5-7pm where they are expected to go into executive session.  Here is the deal though- if more than half of those board members stick around for the parent meeting, it MUST be declared a public meeting and they MUST put up an agenda for it.  Circumstances do allow for special or emergency board meetings, but they have to call it such and follow the appropriate steps.

Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security is holding a special board meeting tonight.  They are inviting all parents and students to attend.  That isn’t normal.  What is the crisis at the charter school now? Continue reading **UPDATED**DAPSS In Crisis Mode As Parents Are Invited To “Special” Meeting

Delaware AG’s Office Refuses To Prosecute Patrick Miller For Theft Of Funds In Indian River School District. Is It Because He Is White?

Multiple sources are telling me the same thing: the Delaware Attorney General’s office will NOT arrest, indict, or press charges against former Indian River School District Chief Financial Officer Patrick Miller.  With reasons as absurd as “insufficient evidence”, this is a black eye that will severely impact the four years Matt Denn served as Delaware Attorney General.  But the only color I see in this decision is a white one. Continue reading Delaware AG’s Office Refuses To Prosecute Patrick Miller For Theft Of Funds In Indian River School District. Is It Because He Is White?

Delaware Auditor of Accounts Office Violated FOIA According To Legal Opinion

On September 7th, I filed a Freedom of Information Act complaint against the Delaware Auditor of Accounts office.  Even though I did receive the documentation for my original FOIA request regarding a contract that office entered into with Grant Thornton, it came very late.  In fact, it came the day after a highly contested primary for the State Auditor position.  But my FOIA complaint dealt with what I felt were illegal and unethical issues coming out of AOA. Continue reading Delaware Auditor of Accounts Office Violated FOIA According To Legal Opinion

Patrick Miller’s Actions Have Ramifications For Indian River Volunteer Fire Company

Sooner or later, if you play with fire, you are going to get burned.  That is the case with Indian River Volunteer Fire Company.  By continuing to allow Patrick Miller to stay as a member and the President of their board, the entire company is feeling the heat now.  It sounds like this fire company has to put their own fire out before it consumes all of them!

Per the request of the HHMC at the Peninsula, I am removing the letter they sent to the Indian River Volunteer Fire Company indicating they would not sponsor a fundraiser for them due to the financial “cloud” over IRVFC and the allegations against them.

Breaking News!!!! Finally!

Continue reading Breaking News!!!! Finally!

Back To The Pretend World

I’m done.

This is the last article from Exceptional Delaware.  This is why. Continue reading Back To The Pretend World

Breaking News: Red Clay CFO Jill Floore Named Interim Superintendent Effective November 1st

I didn’t see this one coming!  The Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education just unanimously approved an Interim Superintendent effective November 1st.  Jill Floore, the district’s chief financial officer, will fill the Superintendent shoes after current Superintendent Merv Daugherty leaves the district the same day.

The motion, put forth by board member Jason Casper, was quickly voted on with a unanimous vote by the entire board.  More details to come!

Delaware Design Lab Submitted A Modification To Change Their Name To Design Thinking Academy

Updated, 9/25/18: The title of this article has been changed to reflect that the school did submit a minor modification request to change their name.  This was approved by Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting at the end of August.

As announced by Jessica Bies with the News Journal last week, Delaware Design Lab High School is now Design Thinking Academy.  The charter school did submit a major modification request last year to decrease their enrollment but they never submitted a minor modification request to change the name of the school. Continue reading Delaware Design Lab Submitted A Modification To Change Their Name To Design Thinking Academy

What Is Going On With Gateway’s Board Of Directors? Did They Violate FOIA & Their Own By-Laws?

The Gateway Lab School Board of Directors went through a radical shift between their July and August board meetings.  Four board members disappeared but nothing was found in the minutes or audio recordings stating those board members resigned.  As well, changes to their by-laws might have been done illegally. Continue reading What Is Going On With Gateway’s Board Of Directors? Did They Violate FOIA & Their Own By-Laws?

Walk On

I’ve put this on my blog a few times in remembrance of 9/11.  I can’t come up with anything new because I still believe every word of it.  I originally wrote this back in 2009.

Those four key strokes bring back so many memories for so many. For me, it reminds me of the darkest day I have ever known. Full of death, and fear, and tragedy. Any innocence I may have had, any idealistic hope I had for world peace, it died that day. I saw the face of hatred. I felt the fear the word terror brings. We all did. We cried. We prayed. We sat in front of our television sets and watched horror unfold before our eyes. We looked at an empty sky with a mind-numbing feeling of disbelief. We were in shock for weeks after. We knew there wouldn’t be many survivors. We wanted to close our eyes and pretend and didn’t happen, that people didn’t die that day, and yet, we couldn’t. We knew.

Every year, on that day, I try to remember it. I firmly believe it should be a national day of mourning. Not a holiday. A holiday is a day of celebration. This day should be a somber day. A day of remembrance. A day of solitude.

I honestly don’t think there has been a day since that I haven’t thought of it. It still makes me sad and angry. I think about my son, who will be five next week. And how he didn’t have to live on that day. He was born more than two and a half years later. For him, it will be a very important chapter in a history book. He will ask me what happened that day, and I will tell him. He will ask why, and whose fault it was. And I really don’t know what I will tell him. You can blame Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden. You can blame the agencies that could have prevented it had they simply communicated with each other. But at the end of the day, what will that change? What happened, happened.

I think about the jumpers from time to time. And that painful choice they must have had. Die of fire and smoke or leap to certain death. For those who chose to look in pictures and on tv, those images will stay with us forever. I was raised Catholic. To me, suicide is not an option under any circumstances. But what do you call that choice? You know you are going to die. You won’t be saved. What do you do? I pray to God no one ever has to make that choice again.

Since that fateful day, the world has become a chaotic place. It has always been that way, but the mask was torn off that day. What we hoped and prayed wasn’t the case turned out to be very real. Wars have been fought, greed has elevated, and the world’s economy is the worst since the pre World War II years. I believe what we are looking at is evil run rampant. There is no black and white, or even gray areas. It is what it is and it is called chaos.

In the coming years, we will negotiate with fundamentalists who destroy lives. We will see the seeds of greed in our own homes, as the economic meltdown gets worse and every single household is affected. We will see uglier terroristic attacks and somewhere someone will die because of it. We will see the world reject us more and more as our environment is changed in ways we never imagined or in ways we didn’t want to see. We will see areas of the world once vibrant with life turned into desserts.

And yet, we will survive. We will do what we did in those days and weeks after 9/11. We will pick up the pieces of our shattered lives, and look for hope. I pray we will unite and conquer these problems together. Not by electing someone to lead us, but by truly coming together and defeating the evils that plague us. We need to stop blaming others for the shape of the world and form new shapes. We need to recognize that what someone believes in isn’t always wrong, but their own point of view. We need to walk on.

Guest Post By Eric Morrison: Primary’s Record Democratic Voter Turnout- A Cause For Celebration Or Concern?

As many are dealing with the ramifications of the Delaware Primary, one reader felt there were reasons for how some votes were cast.  Without further ado, Eric Morrison from Newark has the floor: Continue reading Guest Post By Eric Morrison: Primary’s Record Democratic Voter Turnout- A Cause For Celebration Or Concern?

16 Very Tough Questions With Capital School District About In-School Alternative Placements

A month ago, I posted an article about an In-School Alternative Program the Capital School District Board of Education would be voting on at upcoming board meeting. When I read the contract and heard the board audio recording, I had several questions about the program.  I do understand the Christina School District runs the same program but I had some concerns for it in Capital’s middle schools and high school.  Continue reading 16 Very Tough Questions With Capital School District About In-School Alternative Placements

Christina Teachers Don’t Like That MOU! Will The Board Agree?

I put up the new Christina MOU the other day.  Since then I have heard nothing but outrage from Christina teachers.  Everything from pay to a change in seniority.  Veteran Christina teachers in the ‘burbs certainly don’t like the fact they could get rif’d over newer teachers in the city who sign a commitment letter.

The Christina Board will vote on this mess Tuesday night.  I would lay odds the board will vote in the affirmative on it.  But the members of the Christina Education Association will vote to ratify this a couple days later.  If they vote no on the MOU it is back to the drawing board.  What will that mean for the whole consolidation of the Christina Wilmington schools?

Final Thoughts On The Delaware Primary

Voter turnout was up.  That is a good thing.  I would love to see a massive increase in voter levels for both sides.  Let the people speak!  Some elections turned out pretty close to how I thought they would.  Some were disappointments.  At this point, it is what it is and all eyes are on the General Election.

The biggest upset turned out to be Scott Walker.  Who would have ever thought the wooden-sign guy would actually win a Primary?  Much less, one on the Republican side?  Don’t worry, he will get trounced in the General by Lisa Blunt Rochester.  No doubt in my mind about that.

Predictions and who I want to win are two different things at times.  I will be endorsing for the General Election but I’m still recovering from the Primary.  There will be plenty of time for that.  Some may surprise you!  I do want ALL the candidates to send me their Candidate Message.  Some of the ones I received before the Primary are still good since those candidates won their Primary race.

Like I said the night before the Primary for candidates who lost- don’t give up!  There will always be winners and losers.  Let it be a learning curve for you.

We have some new Senators in our midst here in Delaware.  Congrats to Senators Lockman and Brown.  As well, congrats to new State Reps. Dorsey-Walker, Johnson, and Vanderwende.  I will anxiously await to see all of you in action next January.

The General Election is going to be pivotal to the future of Delaware.  The political picture is going to change no matter what.  It will be up to voters to decide what shape that picture takes.