Last night, the Red Clay Consolidated Board of Education voted unanimously not to renew the charter for Delaware College Preparatory Academy. The Delaware charter school serves students from Kindergarten through 5th grade. But they will be closing at the end of the year. Will they go quietly into the night? Or should we expect some pushback like Moyer and Reach attempted to do last year? My guess is on the latter. At the meeting, Delaware College Prep Head of School Angela Dennis gave public comment asking the board to keep the school open. Another teacher gave a public comment as well. The Board had no discussion before the vote. Many folks in the audience came just for the Delaware College Prep decision, and they were not happy about the decision.
Rumors had been swirling over on Kilroy’s about this type of action as far back as last March. I wrote about the Red Clay charter committee’s recommendation for non-renewal last month. In October, the Delaware Auditor of Accounts found Delaware College Prep had some suspicious financial abuses regarding Board President Yardise Jones but nowhere near the level of abuse at Family Foundations Academy and Academy of Dover.
It looks like another Delaware charter is one for the books. Tomorrow, we find out about Delaware Met. Will any other charters get yanked this year? With the Smarter Balanced Assessment scores not counting for last year, I would tend to doubt it unless something goes terribly awry at one of them in the next six months.
Red Clay’s board did renew the charter for Delaware Military Academy as well as approving their modification request to increase their enrollment. But only after they made the head of school promise that this was contingent on funding to build additions to the school. Commandant Anthony Pullella said yes.
All the media attention has been on Delaware Met, but another charter school may face the charter revocation knife in less than twelve hours! The Delaware Department of Education is the charter school authorizer for most of the charters in the state, but three of them fall under the watch of the Red Clay Consolidated School District: Charter School of Wilmington, Delaware Military Academy and Delaware College Prep. The last of those is on formal review, and the odds are in favor of Delaware College Prep getting their charter revoked at the Red Clay board meeting tonight.
If this happens, and Delaware Met goes down at the State Board of Education meeting tomorrow, that will be five charter schools shut down in the past few years: Pencader Business School, Moyer, Reach Academy for Girls, Delaware College Prep and Delaware Met. For a state with anywhere from 22-25 charters (it is getting hard to keep track with the openings and closings), this is an abysmal track record. Delaware doesn’t have the charter chains like many other states. Most of them are “mom and pop” charters. Most of these are serving children with needs greater than other charters.
The inner-city charter experiments are clearly not working. Sure, folks can say East Side is a resounding success, but when you look at their Smarter Balanced results, they weren’t much better than their traditional school district peers. I am not saying I agree with using standardized test scores as a measure of success or failure, but for the sake of argument, their perceived “growth” blew up with their SBAC scores. The problem is also the charters who do “perform” well. This is another illusion cast upon our state because of their enrollment practices. We all know who those players are but nothing ever changes. So we continue this game of Russian Roulette with our Wilmington students. We are rolling the dice with them and the results are horrible.
And yet, the charters with some of the most egregious financial abuses in our state stay open. Academy of Dover and Family Foundations Academy collectively wasted over $300,000 in taxpayer funds for personal use. Their schools are still open. Their former leaders are not in prison for outright theft. But we will bounce students around Wilmington through choice and charter openings and closings without any regard to the amount of instability this inflicts on our districts, our communities, and most of all, the students.
The Red Clay Consolidated Board of Education, as well as voting on an opt-out policy for the district, will also look at the renewal of two charters authorized by Red Clay: Delaware Military Academy and Delaware College Prep. Delaware College Prep has been plagued with issues for years. Will the Red Clay board recommend charter revocation at their December board meeting? The Delaware Department of Education gave them a rating of “Falls Far Below Standard” on their financial framework for the 2014-2015 academic year and the Delaware Auditor of Accounts found severe financial mismanagement at the school. The Red Clay Charter School Accountability Committee report does not bode well for them…
Updated, 6:45pm: Kilroy is on it! Red Clay Charter School Accountability Committee recommending now renewing Delaware College Prep’s charter!
Charter Schools authorized by the Red Clay Consolidated School District go through charter renewals, modifications, and formal reviews through Red Clay, not the Delaware Department of Education. Both Delaware Military Academy and Delaware College Prep are up for charter renewal this year. Delaware College Prep was in the news very recently when the State Auditor found some financial abuse going on by the school leader. Kilroy’s Delaware has raised several red flags about this school in the past six months. They are also on probation status based on their formal review last year for academic performance. Here is their charter renewal application:
And the exhibits and other information that are mentioned in the application can be found here:
Interesting that they have no parent representative on their school board as of October 1st, but they are “actively looking”. Here is the agenda for this portion of the Red Clay Consolidated Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, 10/21/15:
Last year, we saw Moyer and Reach Academy close. Two years before that, Pencader Business School closed. Will we have two more Delaware charters close this year? Delaware College Prep and The Delaware Met? And what will fill the void? New charter applications in Wilmington have a moratorium until at least 2017. What I can see is more charters submitting modification requests to increase their enrollment. In the meantime, keep an eye out on Delaware College Prep. Just because the DOE doesn’t cover this is not an indicator that Red Clay won’t hold them accountable. I would love to see their reaction to the State Auditor report!
How about those apples? I actually found a huge technicality in the DOE reporting system for bullying and the DOE fixed it in record time. Contrary to popular belief, things at the Red Clay charter schools are NOT as rosy as the past couple years of bullying and discipline reports provided by the Delaware Department of Education would have you believe. I was very puzzled when I saw, for two years in a row, none of these three charters had their individual reports come up on the DOE School profiles website. I emailed John Sadowski, the Program Manager for Climate and Discipline at the DOE this morning and advised him of this. As of 12 noon, the reports are now available.
I’m not sure what happened, and it didn’t change the Annual bullying report I posted this morning, but it does show some things parents would not have seen before this fix. I would like to believe this happened because of the odd nature of Charter School of Wilmington, Delaware College Prep and Delaware Military Academy being the only charters in the state authorized by a school district. In this case, the Red Clay Consolidated School District.
Using Delaware College Prep as an example, this is the only information parents could see for them on the School Profiles page of the DOE website:
|Number of Reported Offenses (2014-15)
|School Crimes (Title 14, Delaware Code, §4112)
|Department of Education (DOE) Offenses
|All School Safety Policy in Place
|Suspensions and Expulsions
|Number of Suspensions
|Number of Expulsions
|Count of Students Suspended/Expelled
|September 30 Enrollment
|Percent of Students Suspended/Expelled
When you hit the tab for details in both these sections you get to see a breakdown for this data as you can see in the below reports. But before 12 noon today, it didn’t come up for the three Red Clay charters while it did for every other public school in the state. I put up both the reports for Red Clay, before and after so you can see the difference.
Red Clay Consolidated Combined Report 2014-2015, 6:59am, 10/7/15.
Red Clay Consolidated Combined Report 2014-2015, 12:25pm, 10/7/15
Charter School of Wilmington Combined Report 2014-2015
Delaware College Prep Combined Report 2014-2015
Delaware Military Academy Combined Report 2014-2015
So what got me all interested in Red Clay charters and these reports? It had a lot to do with this article. I knew the student was suspended for many days over suspected drug activity. I wanted to be sure Charter School of Wilmington reported it right to the state since that was part of the issues at the time. I believe they did, because it shows 20 students were suspended from the school for a total of 118 days.
I don’t believe this was an intentional mistake on the DOE’s part, but oversight and making sure all the reports came up would have been prudent. I’m glad they fixed it though and parents can see what actually happens in terms of reportable offenses at these three schools.
With the current issues Delaware College Prep is going through, knowing they have had 18 fights and a violent felony might be something the Red Clay Consolidated Board of Education may want to know about. Although I am curious what the two Delaware DOE offenses are for Delaware Military Academy with nothing checked off in the sections for that category. Maybe they aren’t done fixing it…
Delaware State Auditor Thomas Wagner released a report today and Delaware College Prep and Kuumba Academy showed significant discrepancies regarding reimbursement of funds to school leaders. Thomas Edison Charter School and MOT Charter School, also included in the inspection, came through with flying colors. For Delaware College Prep, there was a “party loan” over $11,000.00 involving the Board President. For Kuumba, the Head of School, Assistant Head of School and a custodian were overpaid and the report alleges violations of state code in procuring contracts without any bidding process.
This tells us the seven charters that were under investigation by Wagner’s office. Family Foundations Academy, Academy of Dover, Providence Creek Academy, Thomas Edison Charter School, MOT Charter School, Delaware College Prep and Kuumba Academy. I have a sneaky feeling Delaware Met could fit into this category in the future based on events currently happening there.
More to come on this unexpected development. Congrats to Thomas Edison and MOT for doing the right thing. Kuumba and Delaware College Prep… there are no words! To the members of the General Assembly: House Bill 186 needs to pass first thing in January 2016. The charter financial fraud in our state must pass. All Delaware Republicans need to open their eyes to this mismanagement and outright theft of state funds and do the right thing.