After the News Journal reported yesterday that Design Thinking Academy was closing a week earlier than expected, new documents showcase the amount of cover-up that was going on at the Delaware charter school that won $10 million dollars from the XQ Institute. The cover-up concerned a federal grant for funding that allegedly involved fraud by at least four employees who were terminated for their actions.
The email chain, seen below, is from Matthew Sullivan to Kendall Massett to Paul Miller to Stephanie Silverman. What makes this very chilling is the communication from Delaware Charter Schools Network leader Kendall Massett. She advised the school NOT to put the reason for the termination of four employees who were allegedly involved in federal fraud by falsifying a federal grant application. Matt Sullivan, a former News Journal reporter, appeared to be doing some type of work or guidance for Kendall Massett as evidenced by his correspondence to her. I was unable to determine if Sullivan was guiding Massett as an individual or in his capacity as a Director of Creative Ops for a company called Short Order. Paul Miller is the President of the Board of Directors for Design Thinking Academy.
It is important to note the date of the email, December 5th, 2018. On December 20th, the Delaware State Board of Education voted to renew Design Thinking Academy’s charter for another five years. On December 5th, prior to Sullivan sending the below email to Massett, the Charter School Accountability Committee recommended the charter school’s renewal. Massett, who serves on that committee as an ex-officio non-voting member, did not inform the committee about what was going on at the school. Nor is there any record of her doing so between December 5th and December 20th when the State Board voted for the renewal.
It is apparent there was a systemic cover-up at the school concerning the criminal actions that took place with the grant application. They clearly did not want the general public to find out about this. Sullivan’s comment about the “usual blogosphere” tells this writer he was speaking about this very blog as there aren’t too many active education bloggers left in Delaware that write about these types of actions in schools.
On December 14th, 2018, the Delaware Charter School Office posted a public comment concerning DTA’s charter renewal. There was no discussion of this during the State Board of Education’s decision to renew the school which I find a bit alarming. What is the point of public comment if it is not discussed in a decision to renew a school?
What disturbs me the most is Kendall Massett’s role in all this. The Delaware Charter School Network is a non-profit company in Delaware. At heart, they are a lobbyist organization. While I do not know the responsibility of Massett to report crimes as the leader of that organization, given her ties with the Delaware Department of Education and the fact she sits on several committees, it should give anyone pause to see that she has intimate knowledge of crimes and does not make those public. It throws her credibility out the window when it comes to her role on the Charter School Accountability Committee.
It is not my job to ascertain guilt or innocence. As always, I serve to shine a light on activities that are in the public’s interest and a right to know. If I had my way, none of this type of activity would go on in schools. At the end of the day, it should always be about students first. But the sheer amount of cover-up and non-transparency that goes on in Delaware schools demands a light be shown on it. Education is the bedrock of our children’s future. But Massett’s role in attempting to block charter school audit legislation that would give greater oversight into financial improprieties at Delaware charters is very concerning given her ability to serve as a voice for charter schools AND being in a position to cover-up for their crimes.