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.

17 thoughts on “Official DAPSS Closure Letter

  1. As sad as this is for staff and parents, all I can say is it’s about time. Maybe in the future the RIGHT people can take the concept of what this school was supposed to be (which is fantastic by the way) and do it the right way from the beginning, without all the drama DAPSS has had since it opened.

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    • In order to get some kind of funding other than private donors (yes, there was one, those who went to school know who I am talking about) DAPSS had to work the program so that the school will be kind of preparing kids for the future careers in police, firefighting, paramedic and related fields.

      IMHO, there is nothing not to like – all mentioned careers are actually serving important civil duties. I’ve personally spoken with various people at school and in my opinion given the constrains of a tiny school they’ve actually done quite commendable job complying with gazillion regulations needed, not to mention preparing kids above and beyond what “ordinary schools” normally offer … for example, how many “ordinary school kids” know CPR? First response? Do they even care to know (unless they are, say, boyscouts/girlscouts)?

      One thing that regularly gets ignored when it comes to DAPSS is TacOps. TacOps was the equivalent of Academy within the Academy, only the best were chosen and they had to be the best – otherwise they’d be demoted back to “regular student”. TacOps alone was what made DAPSS stand out among similar schools (DMA) – and there was a good reason why DAPSS suffered once TacOps was basically gutted (a separate story … I am not here to bring it up).

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  2. I am sad. Truly sad for the students from DAPSS. Once again, another charter school has failed to manage their financials, despite the state’s required board member finance training and the mandatory CBOC meetings. Many of the charters that we have seen closed or absorbed into other charter systems (Family Foundations I’m looking at you) have been plagued with low enrollment and its related funding issues. Some hide the bills in the ceiling panels. Others choose to manufacture paper surpluses that don’t actually exist. Yet, our policing organizations – the charter authorizers – turn a blind and uneducated eye until a school is beyond the point of no return. Red Clay is the exception have proactively revoked a charter to avoid the type of crisis that is happening today.

    And let’s be fair – there are bad guys in traditional education, too. But, traditional districts, while not able to move funds from bucket to bucket, are better able to absorb a financial crisis and continue to operate on a tightened budget. Most of the time. We all know the Joe Wise impact on Christina’s financial viability. CSD obtained a loan from the state which it paid back early. However, the tax payers carried the burden of the loan DOE provided to Pencader Charter School to ensure it remained operating until the end of its final school year.
    Yet, we do have good charter school operating in Delaware.

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  3. This is disheartening! Me and my friends are all extremely sad by this. As seniors we feel trapped and don’t know what to do. Hopefully everything turns out well and I graduate this May so I can leave for the Air Force

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  4. Pingback: Kevin Ohlandt: Delaware Charter School Closes Immediately, Students Out of Luck | Diane Ravitch's blog

  5. Being sad is the recipe for more of the same.All y’all need to be mad. Plenty of targets, all worthy of your scorn.Harness your anger and use it to make change on choice.

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  6. I’ve already vented my anger on a separate thread regarding DAPSS, but let me repeat this.

    This MASSIVE systematic failure is not JUST DAPPS’s fault. It is a combined fault, the school’s administration, the school’s board, and Delaware DOE. All three are guilty and all three, have they been normal organizations, would be held responsible and would get together and form a contingency plan for the parents and the students – that’s how things are handled in a different world that TAKES RESPONSIBILITY for their actions.

    The way I see it, presently DOE and Board are too busy defending themselves from parents and lawsuits that I am sure will follow, all the while placing all the blame on the now dismissed school administration (I am sure they’ll also attempt to route the blame towards the previous administration – and this will probably go back to the first school leader and his staff). In a sense, they both behave like kids caught drinking booze, running for the nearest bushes and hoping the police would not track down their parents. Chicken little they really are. I’ve seen EXACTLY the same reaction when Pencader was closed – the history repeats itself.

    I get it, both, the school board and DOE are saints, each and every action taken by them is sacrosanct and cannot be judged or questioned by either parents or students – they are too low and insignificant to be noticed. Because they are not part of “The Education System” – that’s why! “The Education System” is way too busy “Serving the Community”!

    Boy, does this remind me of a very short book that should be made a textbook – “Systemantics” by John Gall – it is short enough to be studied by a fifth grader and the wiki about it explains EVERYTHING there is to know about “The Education System” – this thing in particular – “Not only do systems expand well beyond their original goals, but as they evolve they tend to OPPOSE EVEN THEIR OWN ORIGINAL GOALS”!, Wait, it gets even better – “The Functional Indeterminacy Theorem (F.I.T.): In complex systems, malfunction and even total non-function may not be detectable for long periods, if ever.” – and this one – “The mode of failure of a complex system cannot ordinarily be predicted from its structure.” and this one – my favorite – “The Fail-Safe Theorem: When a Fail-Safe system fails, it fails by failing to fail safe.”. Let me repeat this – “,,, it fails to fail safe”. Everything is accounted for, what can possibly go wrong, right?

    Let’s pick some other tidbits from the mentioned book – “Great advances are not produced by systems designed to produce great advances” and “Colossal systems foster colossal errors.” What we are witnessing is a second colossal error and instead of helping those directly affected by such, The System is too busy a) defending itself and its structure b) ignoring those who are not part of The System c) pushing the blame onto those who fail to protect themselves, short, once a crisis mode is turned on and The System goes into overdrive to “Manage the Crisis”, like a mad psychopath running from the police it follows the management myth (“Complex systems tend to produce complex responses (not solutions) to problems”) it produces complex responses to complex problems that are not aimed at solving the problem, they are just complex responses generated by the system that went into the stress mode. Most of it will be masking noise, smoke and mirrors, and likely none of it will help parents or kids.

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    • On a separate thread I’ve seen that the seniors at DAPPS where offered places at AI Dupont High School … woa … not sure how to react to this one, but I’ll try. I’ve had a friend who graduated from that school. Wait, this gets better. In order to get to that school you have to live within … ahem … not sure how to put it mildly. It is a Greenville school. Basically, offspring of the mostly unimaginably rich go there. Old DuPont money send their progeny either there or another private school that’s always in the news. Umm, I am very very skeptical this will work out, but that’s just humble skeptical/cynical me, knowing a bit of a background and private stories of that “public school” (ha, it is not really, it only lists as “public”).

      But seriously, not Wilmington Charter? Not some other charter school, AI Dupont High? Whatever happened to the self-congratulatory mostly helpless (in this case) Network of Charter Schools of Delaware? Where are the “magnet schools” that suppose to “magnet” those suddenly kicked out? In short, where is the contingency plan? DOE supposed to go into 12 hr emergency workdays looking for EQUIVALENT places within other charter schools, not? Or is it that this emergency is only for the students and their parents, as for the DOE it is business as usual?

      Back to the DuPont High … no offense intended, they do have quite good staff and plenty of well-educated and commendable graduates to boast about, I am not here to belittle them. I am, however, not entirely sure how DAPSS students will integrate with the totally different demographics … take what I just said with a grain of salt the size of a truck, but I do have my personal reservations about how that will work out.

      Yes, I know, I know, this is the land of the free, and I am not suppose to point out that economically we are a fragmented society with fenced-in classes that pulled the ladder behind them once they are sitting on a perch high enough. But this is the classical case of “this sets up hidden/inherent/muted conflicts that cannot be resolved” of social interaction between unconnected classes. Yes, social classes. While I may not have enough educational background to boast about such, I happen to have enough real-life experience not just regularly interacting, but working and basically living with some members of those classes to know what I am talking about. Those who know me in person can attest me not making this up. And I am not tremendously sure now this was a good choice.

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      • I think that your thoughts/concerns about AI Dupont’s demographics are about 20 years too late. Minority students (black/hispanic) make up 47% of the student population; whites, 43%. The people that live in Greenville typically have kids that attend Tower Hill, Friends, Tatnall, Sanford, or if they’re “lucky”, their kids get accepted to Wilmington Charter. No need to worry about DAPSS fitting in to the AI population.

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  7. I understand that it’s easy to point at the DOE as a contributory factor here in terms of not closing them when they were on probation but I truly feel they had the best interest in those students when they decided to give this school one last shot. At the table was Dusty Blakey from Colonial saying they were willing to help, and Margie Lopez-Waite from a successful Charter School saying she would help, and a parade of parents and students who told stories about how this school works for them and provided them with a unique educational opportunity that they wouldn’t otherwise have. DAPSS had conditions that needed to be met and they met them- or so DOE thought. Who would have ever imagined a head of school making up students for enrollment? Enrollment is what it is meaning parents committing on paper that their student will be coming to school- how is DOE supposed to verify that? All charters have enrollment procedures and some of those students don’t end of attending, parents have that choice but making up students? You can’t blame DOE. They don’t have the capacity to call parents who said they were going to enroll in DAPSS, then DOE would be blamed for “Big Brother” tactics. When Mark Murphy was the Secretary he was a hammer and no one liked it and DOE is still trying to change that image but apparently the hammer is still what folks want after all. There are only 3 staff positions in the DOE charter office and more charters than districts. Plus their lead position is still vacant because who would want that job- so they can be constantly criticized for what a bad job they are doing? It’s a no win situation. They need more staff but the public complains about too many positions in DOE already. DAPSS did a poor job of managing their school because the head of school had no experience at all in education and even less with running a business. Shame on the board. They have some fantastic staff that are now screwed and students who have to go into a setting that they’d prefer not to be in. Shame on DAPSS. I am sure DOE will learn from this and hopefully figure out a way to make some changes. This whole situation just stinks!!

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    • I can definitely see what you are saying. This is my fundamental issue with what you are saying about DOE though- they did know there was a history of the pretend enrollments. To what level I don’t know, but I do know they knew. That should have prompted some type of apparatus whereby they could at the very least operate as some type of hammer. Nobody wants a return to the Murphy days. But when a school is already on formal review for enrollment they should have brought up the subject of the history behind the shady enrollments during that process. They did not. The fact they essentially hid it from the public speaks volumes. I fully understand if they did that would have caused the State Board of Education to shut them down at the time. Which I believe should have happened because by ignoring it they allowed it to continue. Herb Sheldon was allowed to stay on and he was a key part of the problem. That was a fatal mistake for the school. Shutting down a school should never be taken lightly. I do recognize that. It is a major decision that has huge ramifications.

      I do know the Charter School Office is undermanned. That position has remained unfilled since July 1st. And the head of that office tends to get a lot of heat. I think, in the best interests of charter schools, they need someone leading that office that isn’t from a charter background. They need someone who can be partial and independent. The reason that role tends to get a lot of heat has more to do with the lack of transparency than being a hammer.

      Some have said we don’t need a DOE. I have always said we need them in some form for checks and balances. I tend to be their worst critic, for various reasons, but I don’t think they should be abolished. I don’t mind them being a hammer but when it involves punishment over standardized test scores I can never get behind that. I know people wanted DAPSS to succeed but by ignoring the rot in the foundation it was destined to fail. Truly a sad situation for all involved, especially the students and staff.

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  8. I am still at loss why so much hate is directed at charter schools.

    While I understand the “they are siphoning the best students off public schools” mantra (only partially true … some of my friends’ kids went to public schools … they are not dumb), I have tough time understanding why public schools cannot simply pull themselves up to the level of charter schools … plain and simple. Also, NOTHING is being said about similar “siphoning” that sends kids to private schools instead of public schools … yes … I suppose private schools are off the radar screen. Odd. Last I checked private schools don’t even factor in in any stats I’ve looked at … so, it is really public versus charter? I smell hidden agenda and it is all about teachers union hating how their turf had shrunk, eh?

    I’ve personally been affected by the teachers’ union dirty deed (I’ll leave this thread out of this post) that happened quite recently and I cannot stop thinking that, perhaps, it is not that better than JImmy Hoffa empire, in a sense that it managed to figure out how to hold non-public schools hostages to their agenda.

    Make whatever you wish from what I’ve said, but I am actually the last guy to subscribe to any conspiracies theories. However, I cannot stop thinking “communist party” when it comes to “department of education”. That’s how communist party of USSR operated, with 100% blank checks, completely and unquestionably above the very laws and the very constitution it was forcing upon the USSR citizens and there was nothing one could do until USSR collapsed under its own weight, a classical textbook case of rotten bureaucracy.

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