Next up is Brandywine School District. Located at the top of Delaware if you are looking at a map, Brandywine has 10,400 students. This number has hovered around that amount for the past few years. Given that, the number of administrators in Brandywine making over $100,000 has gone down dramatically over the past four years. In 2014, they had 71 making that coveted number. Now, they have 55. In 2016, the district went through a tumultuous referendum process. This could account for the reduction in administrators in the district. Four years ago, Superintendent Dr. Mark Holodick was the highest paid administrator in Delaware’s public schools. As a reminder, these salaries are only the base salary and doesn’t include extra perks. Back in 2014, including those perks, The News Journal estimated Holodick’s salary at $214,176. If those perks are still the same, Holodick got a huge raise from the district! Continue reading
Yes, Vitamin C landed six students from p.s. duPont Middle School at the hospital according to an article from WDEL. One student apparently led other students to believe they were taking something else. As a precaution, the district sent all six kids to the hospital. I can’t wait to see that bill come in for the Brandywine School District! I’ve written about some crazy education stuff in Delaware, from pee issues to science experiments gone bad. Let’s add Vitamin C craziness to the list!
We are at a crossroads in Delaware education. When Vitamin C rings land kids in the hospital, we must act! We can no longer look away when children are ingesting drugs that will make them pee more. This is not something we can opt out of, these dangerous Vitamin cartels sweeping our schools. We must do what we have to do to keep our schools safe.
In all seriousness, this did happen. I do salute the school for taking the necessary precautions with this. But I would hate to get that bill Brandywine Chief Financial Officer!
UPDATED, 12:55pm: I just want to clarify. This article is satirical in nature, but this did happen. DRUGS ARE BAD! NO ONE SHOULD BE TAKING ILLEGAL DRUGS, ESPECIALLY STUDENTS!!!! The school did the right thing in this situation.
Wow! The Brandywine School District won their second referendum attempt this year with a ton of votes and a wide margin between pass and against. With over 15,000 citizens of the district voting today, this is huge. Compare that to the recent school board elections in Delaware. I doubt there were 15,000 total votes for the whole state!
The Brandywine School District is having their second attempt at a referendum today. To say both sides have come out swinging for the fences would be an understatement. Politicians like Delaware Governor Jack Markell, Senator Tom Carper, and State Reps Bryon Short and Sean Matthews have all come out in support for the referendum. Brandywine father Patrick Wahl appeared on the Rick Jensen show yesterday along with referendum leader James Hanby. Wahl is claiming the district gave out absentee ballots to an assisted living home along with a host of other issues about the referendum. The Delaware Dept. of Education came out with a letter yesterday indicating it erred with the number of administrators that show on the DOE website. Teachers in and out of the district are urging citizens to get out and vote. Brian Stephan wrote a post on Delaware Liberal yesterday addressing many of Wahl’s allegations.
We will know tonight if this attempt passed or failed. It is getting very hard to keep track of what is truth and what is not, from both sides of the issue. As of 12:55pm today, the New Castle County Dept. of Elections verified 2,085 people have voted already in 18 out of the 22 polling stations. I’m not taking sides on this one folks. There is too much mass confusion surrounding this one. Most likely, the truth is somewhere in the middle in certain areas. The important thing is to get out there and vote if you live in Brandywine.
The Brandywine School District in Delaware will face their 2nd referendum attempt this year on May 17th. Frequently in Delaware, referenda in Delaware has supporters and non-supporters. I posted a video earlier today from Brandywine parent Pat Wahl. The below document refers to a Brandywine employee who emailed the entire district last weekend with what the district claims is inaccurate information. Brandywine responded to the email with a document defending some of the allegations. While Mr. Wahl did make some similar claims in his video, what was addressed in this document was in direct response to the email sent from the district employee. I have not seen the original email. Nor have I seen an official response to Mr. Wahl’s video at this point. I imagine it would be a long response since that video clocks in at over 23 minutes!
Patrick Wahl has upped his video series from tackling the lawsuit he has against the Brandywine School District to attacking their referendum in his latest video. Whether you agree with him or not, you can definitely say he has done his research!
You run for the local school board and you miss stuff like this! Wow!
Yossi Goldstein with WDEL broke the news this morning concerning the Brandywine School District’s cuts they will have to make if their second referendum attempt this year does not pass on May 17th. The district did not include the new turf costs in this referendum attempt. Dr. Mark Holodick, the Brandywine Superintendent, laid down the potential areas where costs would occur at their board meeting last night. While the below doomsday scenario doesn’t give exact amounts for each area or how definitive the cuts would be, he did estimate 40 teacher positions would be cut resulting in larger classroom sizes.
Brandywine is part of the BRInC Consortium which is a collection of several Delaware school districts who share a blended learning program, combining digital learning and actual instruction. The report did mention the district’s “Instructional Technology Plan initiative”. There was no mention of pending legal costs for the lawsuit filed by Patrick Wahl against the district which has received a great deal of media attention the past couple months.
Last month, both the Christina and Cape Henlopen School Districts passed their referendums, but Brandywine did not.
This is an important message for ALL Brandywine School District parents: You need to opt your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. If they started already, do not let them take one more second of this test. Refuse The Test! The Network of Public Education is calling for a National Opt Out of these high-stakes tests. They aren’t effective at all, and everyone knows it. These tests are being used for nefarious purposes. Do not believe the lies coming out of Governor Markell and the Delaware Department of Education. They care more about corporate profit than your child. It doesn’t matter if your kid is smart. It doesn’t matter if you are Democrat or Republican. What matters is your child, and their education. This is not education. It is a mockery of education.
Please give the principal of your child’s school a letter on Monday morning indicating you are opting your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Let the school know you want your child to receive academic instruction while the other kids are taking the test. If they tell you that you can’t opt your child out, look them in the eye and say “Yes I can, and if you make my child take this test I will call the police.” To get support from other parents, please join the Brandywine Opt Out Facebook page.
Across town, it was a different story for the Brandywine School District. While victory toasts are happening in Christina, Brandywine is not celebrating their loss. With unofficial votes of 3,729 for and 3,892 against, Brandywine lost their referendum. I have to wonder if Dr. Mark Holodick may have wanted some Governor Markell video support right about now. Apparently voters in this district weren’t willing to have tax dollars increase for turf on their fields…
Patrick Wahl, the father of Joseph Wahls, is not giving up. He wants the world to know what happened to his son in the Brandywine School District. You can read about it here. If you want to really see Wahl open up, with a no holds barred video addressed to the world, this is a must-watch! You really need to watch the whole thing to see the “inserts”. Wahl clearly explains his perception of the events and why he is suing the district. I can’t picture the leaders of Brandywine releasing a video with their side of things. But it would be pretty cool to watch!
Yeah, that wasn’t the video he put up. But I thought it was a fitting intro. Can they work it out?
I don’t predict this story will end anytime soon…
This was a very busy week. I didn’t write as much, but what I put up on March 1st sucked the oxygen out of everything else on this blog. The Brandywine-Holodick-Wahl Saga is now my second most-read article on this blog. It jumped over a controverial Teach For America story from last summer and the Charter School of Wilmington due process article and my son’s first day of Common Core division homework. I knew the article would be big when I wrote it (actually, Pat Wahl did all of the hard work). But it is still read thousands of times each day. It has slowed down a bit since last Tuesday, but will it overtake Arne Duncan’s special education regulations from November 2014? That one had many parents of students with disabilities ticked off during Thanksgiving week that year. We shall see! The Brandywine due process story has a ways to go to reach the #1 spot, but it could do it. We shall see in the next week or next few weeks.
Patrick Wahl is taking the Brandywine School District to court. Last year, his son was suspended for a week. What makes this case fascinating is the fact that his son was punished for what amounts, in my opinion, to a wrongful search. Brandywine’s board made the situation even worse. I can now say this case and that case are the same one. This morning on Facebook, Joseph’s father announced the lawsuit. He gave me permission to copy his post. I could write about what happened, but it means more coming from his father. This is how I got my start in blogging, and I am more than happy to return the favor:
JUSTICE FOR JOSEPH: SUNLIGHT IS THE BEST DISINFECTANT Continue reading
Last night, the Brandywine Board of Education passed a resolution calling for a referendum to support additional capital and organizational costs for the district. The referendum will be held March 23rd, 2016. The unanimous board vote calls for a referendum to increase property taxes by approximately $240 per tax payer on an annual basis according to an article from WDEL last month.
The last time Brandywine held a referendum was in 2012 for operating costs. The referendum passed with 4,624 yes votes compared to 4,013 voting no as per Hockessin Community News.
The new referendum was recommended by Superintendent Dr. Mark Holodick. With school funding becoming a very controversial and hot topic in 2015, there is no mistaking that local funding is increasingly taking on more and more of a district’s operating costs. Red Clay, Caesar Rodney and Milford passed much needed referendums earlier this year, while Christina failed in two referendum attempts. Christina will attempt for a third referendum attempt in 2016 as well.
An attorney representing a student in the Brandywine School District filed a FOIA complaint against the Brandywine Board of Education. The matter concerned expunging a disciplinary record for a student. While the report does not go into details, obviously, of who the student was or the incident that led to a disciplinary action, that was not the basis for this FOIA complaint. The Brandywine board decided against expunging the student’s record in executive session but did not vote on the action item on their agenda in public session.
From the legal opinion:
FOIA requires public bodies to provide notice prior to a public meeting by issuing an agenda that identifies the issues that a public body expects to discuss or take action on during that meeting. See 29 Del. C. § 10002(a). If the public body intends to go into executive session, it must so indicate in the agenda. See id. Once in executive session, the public body may discuss public business but may not vote on any public matter. 29 Del. C. § 10004(c). Any decision made regarding discussions of public business during an executive session must be made in public, and the record of the vote must be public. Id. Additionally, we have previously held that consensus votes during executive session are not permitted. See, e.g., Del. Op.Att’y Gen. 06-IB12, Del. Op.Att’y Gen. 05-IB29, Del. Op.Att’y Gen. 96-IB32. Any decision made by a Board, even if it is a decision to decline a request, must be made in public.
The Board does not have any procedures for considering a student’s request to expunge his or her record. The process is discretionary. Counsel for the Board argues that there was no vote in executive session. The statute does use the term “vote,” but we take a practical view and look at whether a matter was “decided,” even if the body avoids a vote. The Board sent a letter “declining” a proposal; this acknowledges that a decision was made. Given the events, it seems most plausible that the decision was made in executive session, but perhaps it was made after the meeting was over. In any event we cannot say that the decision was made publicly. We believe the import of the statute’s language that “all voting on public business must take place at a public meeting and the results of the vote made public” is that the public should be able to discern how and when a matter is decided. 29 Del. C. § 10004(c). For example, one solution here could have been for the chairperson to call for a motion in the regular session. Under the circumstances, the failure of the Board to take a public vote amounts to a violation of FOIA.
We find that the aforementioned Board action regarding a student’s request to expunge a record during executive session at the July 2015 Board Meeting violated FOIA. The Board denied that request by a vote or by consensus achieved while in executive session or in some other non-public forum. To remedy this violation of FOIA, we direct the Board to either ratify the aforementioned decision in a public, regular session or formally reconsider the request for expungement and vote upon it in a manner consistent with the conclusions and determinations set forth herein.
The attorney representing the student received an email from the district’s attorney which stated:
On July 21, 2015 counsel for the Board sent an email to Mr. Norman which reads, “Steve. Given the strength of the District’s position it declines your client’s proposal to clear his record.”
While this does not make this a legal ruling, but rather an opinion, if the party who filed the FOIA complaint wished to pursue legal action, they certainly could. However, by state law, the Department of Justice could not sue since school districts are a part of the state. Last month at the Delaware State Board of Education there was an appeal matter on the board’s agenda. This concerned an appeal against the Brandywine Board of Education. It is not known if the two are connected. To read the full ruling, please go here.
I’m getting multiple reports from parents that Superintendent Dr. Mark Holodick of Brandywine School District is handling all opt out requests. Once a letter is received, he contacts the parent, asks to meet with them, and tells them he has sole authority on how a student is or is not opted out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. He tells them unless they have a medical condition that would allow them to be exempt, they must take the test.
Dr. Holodick, I spoke to you a few weeks ago in response to my article about Brandywine’s website and your letter to parents about opt out. I can see my words did nothing to change your feelings on this, which is fine. We are all entitled to our opinion. However, you are misreading the facts. Delaware state code states a school can only exempt a child under certain medical conditions. There is nothing in state code at all about what conditions a parent can or can’t opt their child out. These parents aren’t opting their children out asking for permission. They are opting their kids out…period! You have no jurisdiction telling parents they have to obtain medical documentation to opt their child out.
You need to stop this bullying atmosphere in your school district. While we can all agree these matters should be handled in a civil manner, you are crossing the line with your intimidating behavior. Brandywine parents who want to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, please go ahead and send in the letter. If Dr. Holodick calls you, tell him “thank you for your opinion, but my child is not taking this test.” If he continues to pressure you, tell him you REFUSE to have your child take this test and the discussion is over. If he continues, tell him you will contact an attorney.
This is exactly why I have tried to give guidance to all superintendents and heads of school in Delaware, but obviously some feel they can interpret the state code however they want. Fair warning to all of you. If I hear about it, I publish it.
Updated with that little thing called THE LAW: http://delcode.delaware.gov/title14/c001/sc04/index.shtml