About Kevin Ohlandt

I am a proud parent of a son with Tourette's Syndrome and several other co-morbidities. I write on this blog to educate other parents so they know a bit more about not only special education, but all the really bad things that are happening with public schools in Delaware and the USA. We are all in this together, and if our children aren't able to advocate for themselves it's up to us parents! We need to stop letting companies run our schools, and demand our children get a proper education. Our Departments of Education in our states have become weak with fear from the bullying US DOE, and we need to take back our schools!

Kathy McGuiness Gives The Middle Finger To Delaware And Now The General Assembly MUST Impeach, McG Using The Darius Brown Excuse (But She Is Right On That)

Delaware Liberal posted a statement from Delaware State Auditor Kathy McGuiness where she announced the will not resign her position despite multiple charges against her. In the letter she states she is innocent until proven guilty and if other members of the General Assembly don’t have to step down when they are accused of something why should she?

Kathy McGuiness vigorously proclaims her innocence and denies the charges against her. She firmly rejects the calls for her resignation or leave of absence and will continue to do the job she was elected to do.

Hey, McG, I’m pretty sure the job you were elected to do was NOT to hire your daughter and her friend and then continue to pay your daughter when she wasn’t even working. I’m even more certain we didn’t elect you (I never voted for her) to bully and intimidate and spy on your own employees. But I digress.

She encourages her fellow elected officials to afford her the same level of patience they have displayed for our justice system, and with members of the General Assembly accused of violent crimes, until guilt or innocence are adjudicated in a Court of law.

The member of the General Assembly McG is referring to is State Senator Darius Brown. Back in May the good Senator decided to punch a woman in the face over some argument on social media. In a restaurant. He turned himself in and was arrested. The response from the Delaware Senate? Remove him from his position as Chair of the Judiciary Committee.

I can’t believe I’m saying this but I have to agree with McG. Brown should have resigned, first and foremost. But when he didn’t, the General Assembly should have acted. By not acting they have set a precedent whereby an elected official can do bad things and stay in office.

What Brown did was extremely violent and unconscionable. I can’t fathom how Delaware State Senators can sit in the same room with him. When the McG news broke earlier this week many commenters on social media said “What about Darius Brown?” and they were absolutely right to express that concern.

The differences between McG and Brown are many. One, Brown is one of 21 State Senators and one of 62 members of the General Assembly. He can’t unilaterally make decisions that impact every citizen of the state. McGuiness can. She is the top dog in the Auditor of Accounts office.

In my opinion BOTH should be removed from office. And it should happen NOW. I’m a registered Democrat but that doesn’t mean I support bad behavior from my own party. Yes, McG’s party loyalties change like the wind blows. Which bears a mention- where is the Delaware Republican party’s statement on McG? Why are they being silent? You would think they would treat McG as a human pinata for their own agenda slamming Democrats. Instead we get crickets.

McGuiness holding onto her position is far more dangerous than Brown holding a State Senate seat. She makes decisions that impact Delaware tax dollars all the time. She is supposed to be the watcher at the gate but instead she opened the gate for her own ambitions and agendas and let her own selfish and narcissistic actions taint the office.

Updated, 9:38am:

Apparently some members of the Delaware Republican party (no one from the Delaware General Assembly) gave a weak-ass response to the McG saga. Jane Brady, the Republican Party Chair for Delaware, said the allegations are a “very serious breach of public trust”. And some other guy who I’ve never heard of named Joe Fulghum, who is the House Republican spokesman, told the News Journal no one should rush to judgment before all the facts are laid out. In a sane world they would call for her ouster. But I have no doubt McG is working all the angles and trying to broker deals for support from the Delaware GOP. They are CRAZY if they want to entangle themselves in her hot mess!!!!

Updated again, 9:49am:

My profuse apologies to State Rep. Gerald Brady. I did not mean to slight you. You need to step down too buddy! While you aren’t accused of actual crimes like Darius Brown and Kathy McGuiness, your racist remarks about Oriental women should have you resigning. But nope, your buddies in House leadership seem to think punishing you with redistricting maps is just. Don’t think so.

Schwartzkopf To McGuiness: I’m Not Your Biggest Fan

Yesterday, the leadership in the Delaware Senate and the House of Representatives finally issued a statement on the indictment of State Auditor Kathy McGuiness. Both basically told her to get out of Dodge until the investigation is complete. WDEL broke the news:

Leaders in both Houses are urging McGuiness to put the public’s interests ahead of her own and take a voluntary leave of absence until the investigation is resolved.

“While we firmly believe an accused person deserves their day in court, we also believe that the scale of the charges both shatters the public’s confidence in Auditor McGuiness’ ability to serve as a watchdog of government finances and prevents her from meeting the duties and obligations of her office,” the statement from state Senate leadership said.

Both said they’re weighing their own Constitutional obligations in light of the indictment. 

“We are concerned that the ongoing investigation and her legal defense will make it increasingly difficult for the auditor to effectively run an agency that is the watchdog of public funds. We believe it would be in the best interests of the auditor, her office and the residents of Delaware that she voluntarily take a leave of absence during these legal proceedings,” House leadership said.

This had to sting a bit for Pete Schwartzkopf. He has been besties with McG for well over a decade. Can’t be easy to see a friend going through this. But he is the Speaker of the House and he has to take a stand. He can’t ignore this.

Delaware Governor John Carney did issue a statement on Tuesday but, as usual, he is basically sitting on the fence like he does with many issues.

“The investigation is ongoing, so I don’t have a lot to say there. Obviously, what’s been alleged is very concerning, and we’ll see what…we see from the investigation from here on out,” said the governor. “I think that’s a decision that she has to make with respect to that. Obviously, she has staff that do the work of the office–it’s important work,” he said.

As Sheryl Crow once sang, it’s hard to take a stand.

Looming Questions

Good morning readers. I hope you are having a great day. As I reside in a new state I still have lots of questions about good old Delaware. I haven’t done this in a while but they are urgent questions that need answers.

Why would a school board hire a Superintendent’s daughter as a student teacher and allow her to get a $20,000 sign-on bonus because they come from University of Delaware? Why don’t the other Delaware universities and colleges get this same sign-on bonus?

Will the Delaware General Assembly convene soon to begin impeachment proceedings against Kathy McGuiness? Will a brave soul in the House or Senate draft legislation dealing with an elected official’s duties if they are accused of a crime, be it a misdemeanor or felony?

How soon will the Delaware Senate meet to confirm Dr. Mark Holodick as the next Delaware Secretary of Education?

Why does Brandywine School District appear to be the “most favored” district in the state? The Delaware teacher of the year is from Brandywine. Dr. Holodick is from Brandywine. Doesn’t a certain Governor live in the Brandywine School District? *Updated: Last year’s teacher of the year was in Red Clay, not Brandywine. Although she did get a seat on the Brandywine School Board last Spring.

There seems to be an uptick in school violence across the state. But are districts faithfully reporting this to the Department of Education? Is the DOE faithfully reporting those numbers?

When will Senator Darius Brown get his comeuppance? Punching a woman in the face and being allowed to still serve as an elected official is JUST as egregious as allowing Kathy McGuiness to still perform her duties. And for that matter, what about State Rep. Gerald Brady?

A Delaware Senator will soon announce they won’t be seeking re-election in 2022. Which one?

Will Dr. Holodick clean house at DOE or will he leave folks in place?

If Delaware students are expected to follow mask mandates why was there no mask mandate at the teacher of the year ceremony at Dover High School? And why no social distancing guidelines in place?

Since Kathy McGuiness had obvious ties to the AHEPA organization which has heavy ties to Odyssey Charter School does this mean Kathy Jenning’s office will take a heavy look at the Odyssey report from the Auditor’s office as a part of McGuiness’ investigation?

Why has Delaware Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf been silent on the McGuiness situation? Will he lead or feel bad for his friend? For that matter why has Governor Carney been quiet about it? Instead of showing fist-bump pictures on his Facebook account why can’t he comment on the biggest news out of Delaware in a long time?

Feel free to put your own questions in the comments section!

Kathy McGuiness Turned Herself In, Was Arrested, Booked, Arraigned, & Set Free After Posting Bail

Delaware State Auditor Kathleen McGuiness turned herself in today according to 6ABC News. She posted a non-secured $50,000 bail and went free. She is NOT allowed to talk to former employees or discuss the case with current employees. McGuiness pleaded not guilty to the two felony charges and the three misdemeanor charges.

Meanwhile, legislators such as State Representatives Paul Baumbach, Eric Morrison and Madinah Wilson are calling on McGuiness to resign immediately. The Democratic Party of Delaware also called for McGuiness to resign last night. There has been no official word from Delaware Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf who helped raise McGuiness to power in The First State. Any impeachment proceedings would have to start in the Delaware House of Representatives.

McGuiness Attorney Issues Statement Declaring McGuiness Is Innocent And Indictment Is A Lie, No Word On McGuiness Turning Herself In

Delaware State Auditor Kathleen McGuiness had her attorney issue a statement regarding the Grand Jury indictment that was announced yesterday. As predicted, her attorney, Steven Wood, denies the charges set forth against McGuiness. There has been no official announcement regarding McGuiness turning herself in.

The statement by Wood basically says the whole thing is a fabrication. It doesn’t touch on McGuiness’ daughter getting paid past her time in the office. It doesn’t even mention her doing any work for the Auditor’s office when she went back to college. It disgustingly states the ex-employees simply had an axe to grind with McGuiness.

Kathy McGuiness is absolutely innocent of these charges. The Grand Jury’s Indictment, like all Grand Jury Indictments, was based upon a one-sided presentation from witnesses and documents selected by the Attorney General. The Indictment is full of misleading statements and half-truths.

It is true that Ms. McGuiness’s daughter worked as a temporary employee in the Auditor’s Office. Delaware law does not prohibit family members from hiring family members, and there have been many instances of such employment all throughout state government—including in the Attorney General’s Office. It is also true that, like millions of Americans, Ms. McGuiness’s daughter worked remotely during the COVID pandemic. However, the Indictment’s assumption that the only way for a state worker to work remotely is by using the State’s email network is false.

Ms. McGuiness has, from time to time, hired outside contractors to perform various professional, policy-related, and communications functions for the Auditor’s Office. Unlike the Attorney General Office, which has several full-time employees that assist with press and public relations, the Auditor’s Office does not have a full-time employee to perform those functions.

Furthermore, unlike many other state agencies, the Auditor’s budget did not provide for a full-time policy development staffer until recently. For these reasons, Ms. McGuiness hired an outside contractor to assist in those tasks. The contractor in question has performed policy development services for other elected officials in Delaware before, including a former Governor. All of the relevant contracts were entirely lawful. There is nothing unlawful about hiring a former campaign consultant to perform legitimate tasks related to government service. The Indictment fails to mention that the consultant has provided policy advice for elected officials all around the United States in the past and continues to do so today.

The Witness Intimidation charge is pure fiction, and is clearly the result of fanciful tales spun by former employees with an ax to grind.

Ms. McGuiness will continue to work hard on behalf of Delaware’s taxpayers and intends to focus on the job that she was elected to do. She will have no further comment on this matter. When the whole story is finally heard, the facts will speak for themselves.

This is the part that burns me. The fact she is still able to perform her duties with the indictment hanging over her head. She should be nowhere near a penny of taxpayer money. I pray the General Assembly convenes immediately to impeach her.

Last night I remembered I actually filmed her swearing-in ceremony from January 1st, 2019. In the video she swears an oath to do her job. In another video former Delaware Governor Jack Markell gives the opening remarks for the swearing-in ceremony.

Here is the deal with McGuiness. She serves no one but herself. I’ve seen social media commentary suggesting the Democrats are out to eat one of their own. That McGuiness was getting too close to the truth. Nothing could be further from the truth. McGuiness, as reported several times, has switched political parties often. From Republican to Democrat to Independent to Republican to Democrat. Rumors have been circulating for months that McGuiness was going to take a stab at running for Delaware Governor in 2024 as a Republican. The Delaware Republicans basically told her to go away. In Delaware political circles both Democrats and Republicans just want her to leave her post and disappear. She is the shame of Delaware having been the very first statewide elected official to ever have a Grand Jury indictment against her.

Wood’s statement cannot be found in many places. The first I heard of it this morning was from an article by First State Update which leans very Republican.

Meanwhile, the very fine folks over at Delaware Liberal had their dream come true with the arrival of this picture:

Governor Carney Nominates Dr. Mark Holodick For Delaware Secretary of Education

Delaware Governor John Carney nominated former Brandywine Superintendent Dr. Mark Holodick as the next Delaware Secretary of Education following the “resignation” of Dr. Susan Bunting last week. Bunting will still be in the position until the end of this year.

This is a surprising choice given the Secretary of Education role pays much less than what Holodick was making as the Brandywine Superintendent. But I’m sure he will be ok.

From the official State of Delaware release:

Dr. Mark Holodick, now at the University of Delaware, spent a decade leading the Brandywine School District as Superintendent WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Tuesday announced that Dr. Mark Holodick, former superintendent of the Brandywine School District, will be nominated to serve as next Secretary of the Delaware Department of Education (DOE).Governor Carney’s nomination must be approved by the Delaware Senate. “Dr. Holodick spent a decade leading the Brandywine School District and understands what it takes to create a culture where all students and educators can succeed,” said Governor Carney. “His experience as Superintendent of Brandywine, and before that as a principal, will help him support school leaders and educators across our state. As Secretary, he will continue focusing our efforts to support our most disadvantaged students and make sure that all Delaware children are getting the education they deserve. I want to thank Mark for his willingness to serve, and members of the Senate for considering his nomination.” Last year, Holodick joined the Delaware Academy for School Leadership at the University of Delaware, where he leads coaching and professional development programs for principals and other school and district leaders. He had been Superintendent of the Brandywine School District since 2009, overseeing 16 schools with more than 10,000 students. Previously, Holodick was principal at Concord High School and at a blended middle and high school in the Delmar School District. Holodick was named Administrator of the Year in 2016 by the Delaware Association of Educational Office Professionals and Superintendent of the Year in 2017 by the Delaware Chief School Officers Association.“I appreciate being given the opportunity to work collaboratively with educators and stakeholders across Delaware with a focus on improving opportunities and outcomes for all students,” said Holodick. “If confirmed by the Senate, I will assume the position of Secretary with much gratitude and enthusiasm.”

Delaware State Auditor Kathy McGuiness Indicted On Several Charges, Set To Turn Herself In To Be Arrested And Arraigned

Today, October 11th, 2021, Delaware Attorney General Kathleen Jennings announced Delaware State Auditor Kathy McGuiness has been accused of several charges including felony theft, gross misconduct, nepotism and several other charges. She also announced that McGuiness will be turning herself in.

More details as they come but I will say this: I told you so. I told you in 2018 when she ran for State Auditor. I told you nothing good would come out of this and that she was a very corrupt woman. I will go so far to say that she is evil. I gave her the benefit of the doubt when I went to her swearing-in ceremony on January 1st, 2019. She didn’t fool me though because I knew she would do all this.

What she did to several ex-employees is heinous and despicable. Those are the true victims, even more than Delaware taxpayers. So the next time a scrappy blogger says “watch out” maybe the voters will listen. Maybe the News Journal won’t be so quick to jump on her campaign train to smash her opponent publicly and privately.

Kathy McGuiness had her eye on the role of Governor. We all need to thank God or whatever you believe in that she did not assume that role because she would have buried Delaware.

This is major vindication for Kathleen Davies. McGuiness made her life a living hell and I am a firm believer in karma. The karma bus hit McGuiness right in the face.

Updated, 3:29pm:

Press release from the State of Delaware:

Lengthy DCRPT investigation yields five charges, including felonies

Charges include orchestrating State contract with political consultant

Indictment alleges McGuiness hired teenage daughter, paid her while enrolled in college

Following an investigation involving dozens of witness interviews, thousands of document reviews, and more than a year of work, Attorney General Kathy Jennings and the DOJ’s Division of Civil Rights & Public Trust (DCRPT) announced Monday that State Auditor Kathleen McGuiness has been indicted for five criminal charges, including two felonies.

“We strive for a justice system where nobody is above the law or beneath justice,” said AG Jennings. “These are serious charges, and we do not make them lightly. The indictment includes a great deal of evidence that the State Auditor repeatedly broke the law and systemically abused her power, beginning in her first year in office. Our investigation revealed a long trail of corruption, nepotism, official misconduct, intimidation, and fraud that implicated thousands of taxpayer dollars — all from an elected official who is supposed to be a watchdog for exactly this kind of misbehavior. We cannot — and I will not — tolerate criminal corruption, no matter who you are.”

DCRPT opened its investigation more than a year ago, after whistleblowers came forward alleging serious misconduct by the Auditor, including abuse of tax dollars to benefit campaign associates, a pattern of deceit to evade spending oversight, nepotism, theft, and intimidation of employees. Monday’s indictment charges McGuiness with five crimes: Conflict of Interest, in violation of the State Officials’ Code of Conduct; Felony Theft; Non-Compliance With Procurement Law by structuring State payments; Official Misconduct; and Felony Witness Intimidation.

Contract structuring and oversight evasion

DCRPT’s investigation uncovered a sweetheart deal that McGuiness engineered with My Campaign Group, a political campaign consultant for her 2016 campaign. My Campaign Group markets itself as a company designed “for your campaign needs” and focuses on “provid[ing] political candidates with comprehensive issues platforms – taking them from the campaign trail to elected office.”

McGuiness was sworn in as Auditor of Accounts in 2019. In November of that year, she approached My Campaign Group for a State contract for professional services. Knowing that State contracts under $50,000 need not be subject to public bidding, the Auditor entered into a contract with My Campaign Group – which had never before had a State contract – for “communication services.” Over the course of the contract, My Campaign Group was paid $49,900 – just $100 below the oversight threshold.

The indictment also charges that McGuiness structured payments on the contract to cover up her spending and avoid oversight. Delaware Division of Accounting rules required special approval for purchases or payments of $5,000 or more.  The Auditor directed invoices of more than $5,000 to be paid in increments under $5,000.

Nepotism and theft

Early in her tenure, McGuiness assumed hiring decision-making for casual-seasonal employees.1. In May and June of 2020, three casual-seasonal employees left OAOA due to a lack of available work, including one whom McGuiness fired.  On that employee’s last day, and despite the ostensible lack of work, the indictment charges that McGuiness hired her daughter and her daughter’s friend – then seniors in high school – as casual-seasonal employees under her direct supervision.

Despite McGuiness’ conflict of interest, neither the daughter nor the daughter’s friend were interviewed, nor were their hires delegated to an employee without an ethical conflict.  The indictment further charges that McGuiness provided her daughter access to a State car.

Later that year, McGuiness’ daughter enrolled at College of Charleston in South Carolina. Over the next several months, she remained on OAOA payroll and continued to draw taxpayer paychecks despite not showing up to work, never logging in to work remotely, and rarely sending so much as an e-mail.

As of August 2021, McGuiness’ daughter – who was listed as OAOA’s Public Information Officer and later listed as an intern – had collected more than $19,000 in taxpayer paychecks, in addition to nearly $8,000 paid to the daughter’s friend. The daughter’s paychecks were deposited into a bank account on which the Auditor is an owner.

Surveillance and witness intimidation

McGuiness’ behavior concerned several employees, who questioned her behavior and, in some cases, came forward to the DOJ to file whistleblower complaints. The DOJ’s investigation revealed that McGuiness retaliated against real or perceived whistleblowers and engaged in a course of conduct to surveil those she saw as disloyal to her.

Notably, McGuiness submitted dozens of “e-Records” requests to the Department of Technology and Information (DTI) for the contents of OAOA employees’ e-mail accounts. This enabled McGuiness to monitor several employees’ e-mail communications in real time.  McGuiness also discriminated against employees who questioned her misconduct, and enacted office policies to limit the off-hours, personal activities of employees who she believed associated with former OAOA staff.

The DOJ reminds the public that DCRPT’s investigation into McGuiness and OAOA are ongoing, and urges anyone with information they believe is relevant to the investigation to contact DCRPT at (302) 577-5400 or de.gov/publictrust. Public trust complaints may also be submitted online at de.gov/dcrptcomplaint.

Delaware A/G Kathy Jennings To Announce “Major Public Trust Indictment” Today

The fun starts at 2:30pm in front of the Newcastle County Courthouse. If this is what I think it is one of the major villains of this blog is going down. Hard. Can’t wait!!!!

Breaking News: Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting Is Out

A press release will go out today regarding the “resignation” of Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting. Don’t be fooled. This is NOT a resignation from what I’m hearing from various sources. Apparently Delaware Governor John Carney does not like the direction of, wait for it, the Wilmington schools.

This is hot off the press so to speak. More will be forthcoming for sure!

No one saw this coming and Bunting was very upset about the news this morning according to sources who wish to remain anonymous. The question on everyone’s lips is “Who’s next?”

I am hearing a few names going around the water cooler but I have no doubt Governor Carney knows exactly who he wants.

Bunting oversaw the Delaware DOE during the past five years. The Covid-19 pandemic definitely challenged Delaware education and students and staff are still feeling the pressure from it all. She will most likely be remembered for the opportunity funding now available to Delaware schools.

Why now? Good question. Rumors circulated about Bunting possibly retiring at the end of Carney’s first term but that didn’t happen. It just seems very odd this would happen now. Unless Carney has something planned.

Into The Future

It is June 24th, 2020.  The world has gone crazy this year.  I haven’t posted anything in over two months on this blog.  Not because I didn’t want to but I didn’t know what to say or believe.

Delaware Smarter Balanced Participation Rate At 60% For 2020-2021 Test

The results are in and only 60% of Delaware students took the Smarter Balanced Assessment for grades 3rd-8th for the 2020-2021 school year.

Yes, we can blame Covid for this. And the fact that most students were either hybrid or remote for the last school year. But it is still something to celebrate. It massively skews the data for the entire assessment and renders it meaningless. Which, let’s face it, has always been manipulated for purposes that really have nothing to do with education. It is a numbers and money game. Used for punitive rather than informative. It has never been a true barometer of student regression or achievement.

Yes, the Delaware Department of Education WILL use the data to show Covid caused regression for students. But anyone could tell you that. We didn’t need to spend millions of dollars to administer a test to tell us that. But the DOE will tell you it is needed and blah blah blah.

Thank you to all the students and parents who opted out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment this year. It is definitely a cause for celebration!!!

The Money Grab For Teacher Lesson Plans

I’ve been hearing about situations where administrators are actually making money off teachers lesson plans in Delaware schools. This is going to become a huge topic in the coming months and years.

Who owns the rights to teachers lesson plans? Is it intellectual property? Many of the answers depend on the contracts school districts have with teachers in their union contracts. I’ve heard tales of administrators trying to work around that. They “demand” teachers digitally upload all their lesson plans. Can they do this? Can they “demand” teachers sign away their rights? I don’t have the answers to this. But if it is a violation of union contracts it is time the local unions and DSEA get involved big time.

The frightening part is rumors administrators are selling this material for profit. I would think that would be a huge ethical quagmire. What kind of administrators would have this kind of power? Those who are in charge of curriculum for starters. Principals and other district folks. Superintendents.

Are these weaselly administrators putting this profit back into the district or are they making personal profit? Have they set up shell companies for back-door funding?

I’m just introducing the topic and I’m hoping teachers quickly band together to find out what the hell is going on cause this is some shady shit for sure. If I were a teacher you deserve to ask what happens with your lesson plans when you “share” it with your district or school. What might be “gold” to greedy administrators is something you have worked on your entire teaching career. Is it right for others to profit off your hard work?

Why The Name Change?

Why not.

It’s time. My writing itch has always been there but I have felt trapped in Delaware. Not that Delaware is a horrible place but I was too confined just writing about education and politics in the First State. I still care about education and politics in Delaware. I’ve lived here just about 17 years. That is over a third of my life. But change is in the wind.

I want to write about everything. Hopes and dreams. Creative writing. My reaction to news. Sometimes making news. Entertainment. Poetry. Memories. History. Places. Things. All of it. Infinite possibilities about what makes life exceptional.

I may change the name if people hate it. Let me know!

Bombshell: Delaware Charter Schools Network Fights Raises For Charter School Teachers

The Delaware Charter School Network is in active lobbying mode to stop Delaware charter school teachers from receiving a raise that all public school district teachers will be receiving this year due to a surplus in the Delaware state budget.

State Rep. Kim Williams reported this shocking news on her Facebook account today with this quote from Delaware Public Media:

Some JFC members also offered statements about future budget issues, such as ensuring any salary increases for state employees also include charter school workers, something State Rep. Kim Williams (D-Stanton/Newport) says the charter schools are lobbying against. Charter school employees, which are public schools, will receive the one-time monies but the charter school employees that qualify for this raise may not see the salary increase, that will be up to the individual charter school leadership. The only two charters that will definitely see their increase will be Charter School of Wilmington and Odyssey Charter School, both charter schools voted to unionize and have contract language ensuring they received the state salary increase.Top House leadership has committed to sponsoring a bill with me in January to correct this wrong and make sure all of our state employees receive a raise when given.

It sounds to me like the other charter schools in Delaware should unionize along with Charter School of Wilmington and Odyssey Charter School. Teachers deserve their fair share no matter where they work. They are state employees, period.

The Delaware Charter School Network, led by the education Queen of lobbying at Legislative Hall is Kendall Massett. They are a lobbyist organization. They are not designed to be pro-teacher but pro-charter school. There is a huge difference. They cater to the whims of the charter school leaders and not the staff at charters. By attempting to get this funding blocked they are practically inviting charter school teachers and staff to unionize. The upcoming school year, from what I’m hearing, will see more charter schools in Delaware joining the teachers union and it is about time!

Transparency Under Attack With FOIA Revision Bill, Lead Sponsor Of Bill Allows FOIA Violation With Another Bill, Updated

Updated, 1:23pm, June 10th: Senate Bill 155 has been pulled from the Delaware Senate Agenda and will not get a vote today.

Senate Bill #155 is on the ready list for the Delaware Senate tomorrow. This very atrocious bill undermines the spirit of the Freedom of Investigation Act and serves no other purpose than to protect public bodies who want to keep things hidden from public consumption. My issue with the bill is this section:

 It amends the examination and copying of public records provisions of FOIA to alleviate the significant time, resources, and financial burdens imposed on public bodies by FOIA requests that are unreasonable, disruptive, or abusive. This Act allows a public body to deny a request from a requestor whose intent is to disrupt the essential functions of the public body or abuse the process and allows a public body to charge administrative fees for all reviews, including the review and redaction of information exempt from FOIA. The review and redaction of information is often performed by non-attorney staff in conjunction with necessary review for exceptions and exclusions.

The most disturbing part is the revelation that redactions are performed by non-attorney staff. Which means public bodies have always had the ability to redact information as they see fit. That isn’t a freedom of information. That is cherry-picking what you want the public to see.

Who determines a requestor’s intent? If the public body is doing things that are not essential functions and someone wants to make this publicly known you better believe that public body is going to deny the request. The assumption that public bodies are innocent 100% of the time is blatantly false. Which is a huge part of why FOIA law exists in the first place.

Administrative fees. Some already charge those fees. I filed a petition against the Delaware Department of Education in 2015. Attorney General Matt Denn’s office ruled the DOE grossly overcharged their administrative fees in my FOIA request. Who determines what a proper rate is?

The lead sponsor of this bill, Senator Kyle Evans Gay, leads the committee that is allowing the bill for a vote. In an opinion letter published in today’s News Journal, the Senate Education Committee was accused of violating FOIA by not posting their committee meeting in the designated time-frame. Senate Bill 130, which involves allowing public school coaches to coach student athletes for pay during off-season time, is also sponsored by Senator Gay. How can a Senator so callously destroy the fabric of FOIA with one Senate Bill while allowing a FOIA violation on another bill of hers? This is not what FOIA is about Senator Gay. Whoever is pushing you on this definitely got to you. But the kicker is the fact it was scheduled this during a time when you knew the Public Integrity Commission (PIC) wouldn’t be able to make it, as written in the News Journal opinion letter:

The PIC attempted to participate in the state Senate Legislative Oversight & Sunset Committee’s meeting on SB 130, which was held on May 18. However, the meeting notice and agenda were not posted on the General Assembly’s website until approximately one hour before its unusual scheduling on a Tuesday, rather than the standing Wednesday meeting. In addition to the lack of meaningful notice, the meeting was scheduled on the same day and time as our monthly Commission meeting, precluding our ability to participate.

That is just dirty politics Senator Gay. Allowing your bill to come before a committee during a time when you know the chief opposition to it won’t be able to attend is not just bad form, it is shady beyond belief.

And for the record, I definitely agree with the Public Integrity Commission on the absolute favoritism that will occur if Senate Bill 130 passes. It will definitely give an unfair advantage to Delaware student athletes who cannot afford off-season coaching.

The PIC issued an opinion on this matter in 2003. The Delaware General Assembly wants to overturn that ruling now. Why now? So coaches can get more money. But the consequences are obvious as the PIC Chair Andrew Manus wrote in his opinion letter:

The reasoning behind the decision was that paying a school coach for extra coaching sessions may lead a coach to favor those students at the expense of those who cannot afford such luxuries.

All the sponsors on Senate Bill 130 are Democrats. Some of which I believed were Progressive in their thoughts. In addition, all the FOIA destroyers on Senate Bill 155 are Democrats. What are they thinking? Do they not believe in transparency? Do they not realize the damage they are doing to public trust with both of these bills?

I urge every single Delawarean to email your State Rep and State Senator and urge them to vote NO on both of these bills. Senate Bill 130 is not up for a vote yet but that should not dissuade you from contacting your elected officials. Senate Bill 155 will get a vote tomorrow. Even with Senator Gay’s amendment dictating the public body must give a reason to deny a FOIA request it is still a recipe for corruption and fraud by the public.

Delaware is well-known for being horrible with transparency and violating the public trust. Are we going to allow our legislators to further erode that trust? I have never met Senator Gay and I don’t know much about her. But I don’t like these two bills at all. They both harken to a time that any true Democrat should be long past. We are better than this Senator Gay and I urge you to pull both these bills and table them. SB 130 is a special interest bill, lobbied by the DIAA to get coaches more money. SB 155 is a despicable and ugly bill. You can do better than this Senator Gay. And so can the rest of your Senate colleagues by voting NO on SB 155.

Exclusive: Patrik Williams Threatens Smyrna Teachers Union

Smyrna School District Superintendent Patrik Williams found himself in the hot seat yet again. This time it was with the Delaware Public Employment Relations Board.

In a case filed by the Smyrna Educators Association (SEA) against the Smyrna School District Board of Education concerning payment for part-time custodians during the Covid shutdown in Spring of 2020, the Relations Board ultimately ruled in the district’s favor but not without completely blasting Williams communications to the SEA. It appears Williams’ obnoxious and arrogant way of communicating in any situation knows no bounds. Not only does he lambasted the union over the situation but he doesn’t hide a direct threat to them either. As quoted from the final decision, rendered 2/15//2021:

The tenor of the Superintendent’s emails to the union representatives was unusually caustic.

In the last paragraph of the Superintendent’s last email he states he will not be bashful about sharing his opinion of SEA and DSEA”where (he) travels” and warns that “we won’t forget”.

Williams has been under fire for the past six months due to Twitter comments made last summer and fall concerning controversial comments made in tweets. As a result, State Senator Dave Lawson and several Smyrna citizens have led an effort for the belligerent Superintendent to resign. While Lawson and I don’t see eye to eye on many issues this is one I have to get behind.

I will say this to teachers and staff at the Smyrna School District: Now is the time to unify. I know there are more stories to tell about Patrik Williams. It is time to make your voices heard. It is time to put this man in his place and either force him to resign or have the board terminate him. If enough of you make enough noise the fear and intimidation he has placed in your hearts will no longer have power.

I have posted several articles about Williams’ unprofessional demeanor over the years, stemming back to his time to his role as Assistant Superintendent to the present. In my opinion he is a ticking time-bomb with no ability to filter himself or to deal with anything in a professional manner. He has impacted the lives of district students, teachers, staff and parents unnecessarily and his conduct in no way is fitting for a district Superintendent.

The below document is a must-read for ALL Delaware teachers, staff, students, and parents. If you have been on the fence about Williams this may just tip you over to the side of right. If you have been experiencing the same thing in districts or charters aside from Smyrna you need to know you have a voice. We are at a tipping point in Delaware education and this kind of behavior should not be tolerated at any level.

School Board Candidate Blasts District, Superintendent, & Board In Explosive Public Comment

At the last school board meeting on Wednesday, February 17th for the Smyrna Board of Education, Diane Eastburn gave a public comment for the ages. While announcing she would be running for the open seat on the school board, Eastburn trashed the district. Eastburn is a frequent advocate for students with disabilities in IEP meetings. She also served on the IEP Task Force led by former Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn in 2014. Eastburn’s public comment was cut off due to a three minute restriction but she posted the rest in various Facebook groups yesterday.

I am informing you that I am filing the needed papers to run for the open school board position – because change is in our futures. Some of you, may spread more lies, you may continue to challenge my character and good name with lies, but you will no longer get a free pass. I will start challenging legally those who attempt to damage my reputation, good name, and my standing in the community with lies. I may not win, that’s okay, because at least the dirty laundry and lies that have glued this district together will be out for the community to judge you all! I am not done – I have just begun to fight for our students – staff – parents – taxpayers and community members. If that makes me a trouble maker – so be it!

Back in August, I was watching the board meeting. I have been on the receiving end of hateful, hurtful, and flat out lies that have been written about me and false statements made about my character and integrity by so called leaders of this district. However, I was one of the few – who when a public apology was made, I accepted the fact a lesson was learned and a wrong was righted. I was wrong.I am done sitting in board meeting after board meeting where the public questions or statements go unanswered! Where the administration tramples over students and parents’ rights unchallenged and uncorrected. I am tired of staff and students being mistreated and bullied. I am tired of staff complaining they are forced to teach ideology instead of teaching students core subjects.

I now speak to you as a tax paying member of this district who is tired. Tired of an apology out one side of the mouth while changing platforms to continue to attack people. I am tired of leadership who says – do as I say not as I do! I am tired of fake IEP meetings, I am tired of faked documents, I am tired of altered documents, I am tired of fake data or no data. I am tired of illegal change of placements made to students. I am tired of parents being told security cameras purchased with taxpayers dollars are private property of the district and a parent can not view their child’s attack – yet those very same cameras are used by the district to go after students. I am tired of staff that lives in fear – of the wrath of one PERSON! I AM TIRED OF BEING LIED TO AND HAVING TO GET PROOF OF THE LIES THROUGH FOIA REQUESTS!

You want truth – how about an elementary age child who was falsely accused of being arrested by this administration, then months after being informed the accusations were false by the police – a staff member telling a parent not to allow her child to play with that kid because he had been arrested! You want truth – after reporting discrimination against a student with special needs on a field trip by the hosts of the events (yes this has happened more than once) – you send more kids to the very same people after it was reported to the administration and the school board. You want truth – how about failing to report legally required restraint reports to DOE & parents! You want truth – how about an elementary child man-handled by administration! (I believe this is as far as I got to read the rest was to be as follows) You want truth – how about a student restrained for over 40 minutes because he stepped on a staffers foot when they walked past – NO IMMINENT DANGER TO STAFF – STUDENTS OR SELF! PURE RETALIATION! Yet – unreported to DOE! You want truth – I am tired of students’ rights violated – I am tired of parents’ rights violated – like when parents are NOT given writeups by administration – then told they can not appeal a punishment without the needed document. I am tired of a superintendent (administrator) refusing to meet with a parent to resolve a matter – then he cries to others that I don’t follow the chain of command! You want truth – how about a child removed from a building and the parent not contacted for hours – then lied to about who witnessed it! You want truth – I don’t think so – because that clearly shows the total incompetence and bad behaviors of this administration and board!

That is certainly one way to announce your candidacy for a local school board race! As of press time there was no filings announced by the Delaware Department of Elections for the Smyrna School District Board of Education board seat.

75% Of Delaware Legislators Write Letter To Secretary Bunting Urging Delaware To Request Waiver From US DOE For Smarter Balanced Assessment

On February 5th, led by Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams and State Rep. William Bush, 46 out of the 62 Delaware state legislators wrote Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting requesting Delaware seeks a waiver from the United States Department of Education in implementing the state assessment in Delaware for the 2020-2021 school year. The test was waived last year due to the Covid pandemic. I highly salute all of these legislators on BOTH sides of the aisle for doing this!!! When it comes to education, our legislators need to put away partisan politics and do what is right for kids and this is an awesome way to do it. Of course, Bunting needs to acquiesce to their request and that has yet to be determined. And then the United States Department of Education needs to grant those waivers. Still a lot to happen here with a small window of opportunity for the Smarter Balanced Assessment to go away this year. But the legislators stepped up!

February 5, 2021

The Hon. Dr. Susan Bunting
Delaware Department of Education
401 Federal St.
Dover, DE 19901

RE: U.S. Department of Education ESEA/ESSA assessment waiver request

Dear Secretary Bunting:

It has recently come to our attention that the U.S. Department of Education has been accepting applications from State Education Agencies to waive certain requirements under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), with respect to student assessments. It also has been reported that U.S. DOE sent correspondence to all state chief school officers in recent weeks advising the extension of the waiver application period beyond Feb. 1, and that several of your colleagues in other states have already availed themselves of this opportunity to request a standardized testing waiver for this school year.

We strongly urge you to request an ESEA/ESSA assessment waiver for the state of Delaware as soon as practicable and without delay.

As you well know, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on Delaware educators, administrators, school support personnel, students and their families. Although U.S. DOE may waive the testing requirement for accountability purposes, it is also our firm belief that the state should forego plans to implement the shortened Smarter Balanced Assessment as indicated by your department during the Jan. 26 meeting of the ESSA Advisory Committee. Any attempt to administer required standardized tests in the current school environment would create an extreme hardship for our school communities and jeopardize the fairness and equity of the testing structure itself. Even if our talented education professionals were able to create a testing plan that would comport with the health and welfare restrictions in place to control the spread of the virus, the resulting testing data would almost certainly be flawed for a variety of reasons.

We believe the time required for testing could be better spent by educators in continuing to provide instruction and screen students at the district and building level to inform summer intervention programs and prepare for instruction in the fall.

We know there is no guarantee that a request for a waiver would be granted, however we also know that U.S. DOE is more likely to facilitate waivers if a significant number of states make similar requests. If you wish to discuss this matter further, please don!t hesitate to contact us directly. Thank you for your kind attention.

Sincerely,

Kimberly Williams
State Representative, 19th District
Chair, House Education Committee

William Bush
State Representative, 29th District
House Education Committee

Peter C. Schwartzkopf
State Representative, 14th District
Speaker of the House

John L. Mitchell
State Representative, 13th District
House Majority Whip

Valerie Longhurst
State Representative, 15th District
House Majority Leader

Nnamdi Chukwuocha
State Representative, 1st District
Vice-Chair, House Education Committee

Debra Heffernan
State Representative, 6th District
House Education Committee

Sherae’a Moore
State Representative, 8th District
House Education Committee

Kevin S. Hensley
State Representative, 9th District
House Education Committee

Sean Matthews
State Representative, 10th District
House Education Committee

Michael Ramone
State Representative, 21st District
House Education Committee

Michael F. Smith
State Representative, 22nd District
House Education Committee

Edward S. Osienski
State Representative, 24th District
House Education Committee

John A. Kowalko
State Representative, 25th District
House Education Committee

Eric Morrison
State Representative, 27th District
House Education Committee

Sean M. Lynn
State Representative, 31st District
House Education Committee

Ruth Briggs King
State Representative, 37th District
House Education Committee

Laura V. Sturgeon
State Senator, 4th District
Chair, Senate Education Committee

S. Elizabeth Lockman
State Senator, 3rd District
Majority Whip
Vice-Chair, Senate Education Committee

David P. Sokola
State Senator, 8th District
President Pro Tempore of the Senate
Senate Education Committee

Bryan Townsend
State Senator, 11th District
Majority Leader
Senate Education Committee

Sherry Dorsey Walker
State Representative, 3rd District

Gerald L. Brady
State Representative, 4th District

Kendra Johnson
State Representative, 5th District

Larry Lambert
State Representative, 7th District

Jeffrey N. Spiegelman
State Representative, 11th District

Krista Griffith
State Representative, 12th District

Franklin D. Cooke
State Representative, 16th District

Melissa Minor-Brown
State Representative, 17th District

David Bentz
State Representative, 18th District

Paul S. Baumbach
State Representative, 23rd District

Madinah Wilson-Anton
State Representative, 26th District

William J. Carson
State Representative, 28th District

Andria L. Bennett
State Representative, 32nd District

Lyndon D. Yearick
State Representative, 34th District

Ronald E. Gray
State Representative, 38th District

Daniel B. Short
State Representative, 39th District
House Minority Leader

Timothy D. Dukes
State Representative, 40th District
House Minority Whip

Sarah McBride
State Senator, 1st District

Kyle Evans Gay
State Senator, 5th District

Spiros Mantzavinos
State Senator, 7th District

John “Jack” Walsh
State Senator, 9th District

Stephanie L. Hansen
State Senator, 10th District

Nicole Poore
State Senator, 12th District

Bruce C. Ennis
State Senator, 14th District

Trey Paradee
State Senator, 17th District

Muzzle Alert: Capital HR Director and Union President Put On Radio Silence, A Very Clever Veiled Threat, & When A Termination Is Not A Termination

WDEL followed up on their story about the Capital School District and Dover High School today. It piggybacked off the article I put up a week ago which mainly dealt with the Capital Educators Association’s role in the Covid/ADA accommodations debacle. In the original article from WDEL there were extensive quotes from Capital’s Human Resources Director Mary Cooke and the CEA Union President, Lisa Whiteman. For the new article, instead of Cooke, Interim Capital Superintendent Dr. Sylvia Henderson was given the microphone. As well, Whiteman “declined comment” and instead free reign was given to the Capital UniServ Director Mike Hoffman who is employed by the Delaware State Education Association (DSEA).

Continue reading

Christina Superintendent Dan Shelton And Board Members Get Bad Apple Award From Badass Teachers Association

Dan Shelton had a bad month in January. Not only did he have to deal with teachers holding a press conference against school reopenings during a board meeting but he also compared those teachers to the Capitol rioters. For the last part Shelton earned a Bad Apple award for January, 2021 from the Badass Teachers Association. In addition, Christina board members Claire O’Neal and Keeley Powell won the award as well.

Christina School District Board Members Claire O’Neal, Keeley Powell and Superintendent Dan Shelton in Wilmington, Delaware compared educators peacefully exercising their first amendment rights in concern for safety to a violent, ignorant, unlawful mob of insurrectionists.

I would say congrats to Shelton, O’Neal, and Powell but I think the award speaks for itself. Shame on them. Winning friends all over the place, aren’t you Dan?

The Badass Teachers Association has a mission statement and they are my kind of people!

We, the members of the Badass Teachers Association, reject racially and socially oppressive profit-driven education reform and through our advocacy demand:

  • Equitable student driven policies and systems that are also equitably funded to meet the needs of ALL students and schools, that include highly qualified and certified educational professionals
  • Elimination of high stakes standardized testing as we recognize its roots in racism, arbitrary cut scores, and value-added accountability systems used to evaluate children, educators and their schools
  • Educator evaluations designed to grow professional practice, without punitive measures
  • Protection of balanced, student-centered curriculum which includes, but is not limited to, Performing and Visual Arts, Physical Education, Library, World Languages, Ethnic Studies developed with/by local affinity groups, Career and Technical Education, Unstructured Play and Recess
  • Developmentally sound best practices and programs which augment the experiences of students with special needs, LGBTQIA+ students, students with complex trauma, students who experience institutional racism, students marginalized for socio-economic status, immigrants and those learning the English language
  • Educator-designed policies, standards, and curricula that are supported by peer-reviewed research, as well as input from experienced classroom experts that includes voices from BIPoC, LGBTQIA+, and dis/abled educator communities.  
  • Academic freedom for educators and students, thus ensuring the best possible learning, teaching, and working environment
  • Excellent public education for all students, regardless of economic status, race, nationality, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or dis/ability
  • School cultures rooted in equitable practices including the hiring and retention of BIPoC educators, that honor the culture and history of all students and strive to heal and transform past and current oppressive systems
  • Safe and equitable technology – recommended screen time and content limits ensuring safe privacy practice for students and educators
  • Safe, clean, well-maintained, uncrowded professional workplace environments, free from bullying and harassment of students and educators as well as freedom from threats of violence
  • Collective bargaining rights, due process, and job protections
  • Legislation that unequivocally directs accountability and transparency for charter schools, and maintains the vision of public funds for public institutions, disqualifying vouchers, rebates, and tax credits that divert those funds
  • Democratically elected school boards that solicit and openly work to include the input of the entire community they serve