For a few months there, I had a great source at the Delaware Department of Education. When Delaware MET went down at the end of 2015, there was a lot I didn’t publish about what was going on there. You will find out why shortly. I’m glad I trusted my gut and didn’t send Wilmington into chaos mode. The below emails, between Dave Morgan and myself, not only shed a lot of light on Delaware MET, but also the Delaware DOE itself. Different names are thrown around in these emails. Going back and reading these is always fun! The last email between Dave Morgan and myself is particularly enlightening given that DAPSS is finally under formal review. The incompetence at the DOE is plain to see in these emails. I wish I could have met Dave in person. I probably did but didn’t know about their secret alias with me. I’ve had a few suspicions over the years, but have been unable to prove it. Some parts of these emails I redacted for a few reasons. That’s my business! Continue reading Untold Tales: Delaware DOE, Dave Morgan, & Three Days That Scared The Hell Out Of Me
A year ago today, I received an anonymous email indicating Delaware Met was closing. The Wilmington charter school opened a month before and it was a disaster from the first day. While the school didn’t voluntarily close, it was on the drawing table that weekend. After confirming this information with a couple other people, I posted the story. Shock followed shock as the public found out everything about the school. The fights, the bullying, the special education problems, the teacher problems, the board problems, and so on. For the first time, since “David Morgan” never got back in touch with me, I am releasing the email I received that day.
I didn’t think David Morgan would respond, but he did.
It would be about a month and a half until I heard from David Morgan again. By that time, Delaware MET was well into formal review. I googled the hell out of the name David Morgan but I couldn’t find any trace of this person anywhere in Delaware. Does anyone want to see more Dave Morgan emails? I’ve tried to reach “Dave” since our last communication in early 2016, but there has been zero response. Let me know!
Tamara Varella worked at The Delaware Met as part of A.J. English’s mentoring team. She reached out to me and asked me to share a post she wrote on Facebook about her time at the school. She offered some insight into what went on at the school from a very different perspective. I think most people are in agreement that Delaware Met was cursed from the onset, but could it have been saved at some point?
This post is to all of my family, friends, followers, current/past/future clients. Thank you to everyone that has checked on me, prayed for me and even slightly noticed my drastic pull back from social media the last 4 months. I more than appreciate you! The DE MET School closed last week, literally 5 months after opening its doors. Back in September I was asked by my client, AJ English to help him transition his after school mentoring program to a full-day in-school program at the Delaware MET Charter School. When I went to the school and saw how great the need was I knew I could not walk away and turn my back on “Our Kids”. I made a conscious decision to put my business and whatever plans I made for my future on complete hold because I personally felt it was warranted and would require that level of dedication. For the last 4 months AJ, Cheris Monique and I have been literally pouring out our heart, tears and soul every day ministering to the students at the MET. It just so happens that the majority of students at the MET were the At-Risk, troubled youth no one wanted to deal with let alone play a role in shifting their lives. Regardless of what you read in the paper or heard in the streets, the students at the MET were not animals or just numbers tied to funding! They were our babies that needed direction and more importantly someone to care enough to show them love and correction. The way God used our team, English Lessons, during this time was miraculous. We have countless testimonies of students changing, improving grades, being respectful to adults, restoring relationships w family members and most importantly getting to the root causes so students could be made whole. Our in-school fight prevention rate was insanely high as we were able to resolve issues, restore respect among peers and instill a level of respect for each person involved in a disagreement that was brought to our attention prior to an altercation. School administrators had never seen this done before. The work we did transcends school walls and was felt in the streets of Wilmington as our interventions involved predominantly “street issues”. Students come to school with issues and problems that the average adult would not be able to handle AND go to school and learn!!! From being hungry to almost getting shot the night before, to fear of getting jumped when they get home, to getting kicked out the house and I could go on and on. If you have not viewed Monique Taylor-Gibbs testimonial of the state of our children in DE Schools I beg you to click the link below or look at my last post.
I’m sharing all this not to gloat but to put a call out to everyone taking the time to read this….. Our kids need US!! Not a new system, not a new program, not a bunch of hype and empty promises. Our kids need YOU!! We won’t see a change in our community, the city of Wilmington or even our state until YOU show up!!! YOU have what our kids need. Your story of overcoming, your story of a shady past and bad decisions, your story of being told u would be nothing but proved them wrong, your story …. which comes with the ANOINTING TO BREAK THE YOLK. This generation is a different breed. They only want to hear and receive from those who can relate. I could go on and on abt the system and how they failed our kids but that would be a waste of time.
Please come back to the HOOD, ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVES AND GET INVOLVED!! Thank you to both AJ and Cheris for allowing me to be part of the team. Thank you to all my clients that were patient and understanding. For those of you who were upset about my not doing my workshops, I promise I’ll make it up to everyone! Please keep praying for me as the closing of the school and worrying about the students has me hurt and saddened. This whole experience has caused me to shift internally …. Not clear yet on what that means… But it is definitely time to get back to business. See you all soon!
PLEASE VIEW: Link to Monique’s testimony abt the state of DE Schools
Or you can access it on my last Facebook post.
The Delaware Met shuts its doors three days earlier than expected. Yesterday, the Delaware Met closed it’s doors to students for good. After threats to teachers and administrators including arson (burning the school down), property damage, and physical violence, the school shut down. Delaware Met’s official last day is January 22nd, this Friday. But the students, obviously not caring about any type of instruction the next few days, decided to coerce the school leader into giving them three days off by their actions.
Most of the board members resigned last week. There was talk about a potential lawsuit, but even the school’s own attorney didn’t think it was a good idea. And so ends the five month saga of the Delaware Met. Opened in August, closed in January. The school is under investigation by the Delaware Auditor of Accounts for potential financial issues. It is not known if their management company, Innovative Schools, is also part of that probe. Should First State Montessori Academy get their modification approved for an increase in their enrollment and going to 8th grade, the plan is to take over half of the property at 920 N. French St., where Delaware Met is now.
The Delaware Met had their charter revoked last month by the State Board of Education after violations of pretty much everything. The biggest violation was the lack of correct IEPs for the school’s 59 students with disabilities. Violence, including a student having their hair caught on fire, a student going to the hospital due to head injuries, and numerous fights led to a lot of police activity at the school. While finding one thing to blame on the school for their demise would be difficult, it became more than obvious this was a school that should have never opened in the first place.
Yesterday, students at Delaware Met got to leave school early…again… With only a few weeks left of school at the Delaware Met, apparently something is going on with their heater system because students are reporting the classrooms are VERY cold. What happened next could only happen at this school where the bizarre and the jacked up seem to be on a collision course every day… Continue reading New Delaware Met Principal Reached Boiling Point Yesterday
The Delaware Met and the Delaware Department of Education are having an information session for parents of Del Met students. The purpose of this meeting is to give parents options after the charter school closes on January 22nd. On December 17th, the State Board of Education revoked the charter of Delaware Met. This was an unprecedented decision in Delaware to close a school down in the middle of the school year. This is a very good idea, and I am glad to see the DOE and the school working together to make the best transitions possible for the students of Delaware Met.
Very interesting! The Delaware Met is having a “special” board meeting tonight. Oddly enough, their initial agenda had an action item entitled “Discussion on Halting the Closure of the School”. Now that action item is gone from the agenda. For a board that meets so often in “special” board meetings, they sure don’t take the time to update their board minutes! And having NO board meeting in November, in the middle of their formal review, has to be the stupidest idea I have ever seen in my life! Unless they were counting their formal review meetings and public hearings with the Charter School Accountability Committee as board meetings…
Here is their updated agenda which does not reflect what was on the original:
On December 17th, the Delaware State Board of Education revoked Delaware Met’s charter. Over 200 teenagers, in 9th and 10th grade, will have to find a new school after January 22nd. Most will go back to their feeder districts. Some may go to charters. Some could even drop out. Even though I wrote a lot about the fall of Delaware Met, I truly feel bad for these kids.
I hope whichever district or charter ends up receiving these kids, that they take a very thorough look at what these students will need. And not just academically. We know over 60 of these kids have IEPs. We know some of them are “troublemakers”. But at the end of the day, they are scared. They are facing a very uncertain future. If any of them gained trust with the Delaware Met, it is going to be twice as hard for them to begin again at a new school half way through the year.
It is incumbent upon the DOE and State Board of Education to make sure these kids transition as best they can. They made the decision to open Delaware Met and they delivered their final verdict. The last thing we should want for these kids is for them to drop out and call it quits. They need to know they will be accepted, no questions asked. I am not saying it will be easy for any receiving district or school. But compromise and allowances need to be made for these kids. The Del Met kids will also have to realize their new schools aren’t the free-for-all Delaware Met was.
Instead of students being somber about their charter revocation January 22nd, they decided to do something else yesterday. This week, the Delaware Met received a new leader in the form of Denise Barnes, a former middle school assistant principal from Appoquinimink. Yesterday, the students took full advantage of the recent decision by the State Board of Education to shut down the school by misbehaving and “jumping”, a slang term for causing fights. The school had no clue how to handle the unruly students, so they shut down at noon. This was not a planned and scheduled day. They just said “School’s over, time to go home.”
Why would the charter, with a model that focuses on personal relationships called “Big Picture Learning”, allow this behavior to continue. And with all the problems, why would they hire a person from Appo to lead the school? Appo and Delaware Met are two completely different worlds. I’ve heard that even though the students had issues with former school Leader Tricia Hunter Crafton, she at least had their respect. She knew how to connect with the students. But as the school has gone through a few “leaders”, the students are running the school.
Delaware Met closes for Christmas break on December 22nd. When they come back in January, they will have a few weeks before they close for good. Who is monitoring what goes on there between now and then? Is anyone? It is painfully obvious that whoever the authority figures are now do not know what they are doing. Are these students even learning anything these days? And what about all their internships? Is that even happening (which was the whole purpose of the school)? The school bragged about their hiring of A.J. English and his mentoring team with English Mentoring. What is going on with that? What is their much vaunted “school climate team” even doing there? The school has bragged about how things have turned around, but just this week alone there was an emergency room visit for a student who got stitches after a chair was thrown at his head, and then the mini-riot yesterday that forced the school to send everyone home without parental notification. Apparently, the DOE was unaware of the stitches incident until well into the State Board of Education meeting the next day. As if not telling the DOE about the stitches thing would have stopped the State Board from shutting them down!
As the Delaware Auditor of Account’s office investigates the school’s finances, many are wondering about what they will find. I would assume they are looking at how funds were allocated, especially special education dollars. Their budget submissions to the DOE during their formal review showed a lot of funds moving around. And if there was any misappropriation of federal dollars, that’s big time! I would also guess they are looking at Innovative Schools role in this unprecedented disaster. How was money spent during the two-year planning period? Did Innovative take advantage of the apparent inexperience of their board of directors? And will we ever find out the mystery of the bleeding meat served at lunch to students?
Don’t get me wrong, I think the State Board of Education made the right decision in shutting them down. But with that decision also comes the responsibility of making sure things run right until that closure. By shutting them down, the State Board is saying they don’t trust the school to make the right decisions for their students. So if they didn’t trust them before their decision, why would they trust them now to do the right thing? With everything going on there, someone needs to look out for these kids.
Alison May with the Delaware Department of Education release the following press announcement about the historic mid-year closure vote for Delaware Met.
For immediate release
Contact Alison May at (302) 735-4000
DELAWARE MET CHARTER REVOKED
DOE announces path forward for students and families with school closing on January 22
In response to the Delaware Department of Education and State Board of Education’s action today revoking the charter for the Delaware MET charter school in Wilmington at the end of the second marking period, the state announced that its staff will meet with MET students and families in the coming weeks to help them determine their best educational options for the second semester of the school year.
The school will close on January 22, 2016. The state will assist the school’s 206 students and their families in moving to other schools for the rest of the academic year. The children may return to the district schools in their home feeder patterns or choice into another district or charter school that is accepting students. The receiving schools would receive prorated funding for the returning students.
As they look toward next year, families also may fill out the state’s School Choice application for another district or charter school for 2016-17. The application deadline is January 13, 2016.
Families with questions should email Kamilah.Laws@doe.k12.de.us or call 302- 257-3635.
All documents related to the formal review, including committee reports and school responses, are available here.
Delaware Met is finally up, at 5:52pm. Jennifer Nagourey with the Charter School Office is going over the reasons why they are on formal review. Talking about staffing, school discipline, training for staff, criminal activity, lack of an organizational capability, financial viability, and so forth.
Secretary Godowsky said as he looked at the information presented. Talking about special education, school culture, etc. While he is encouraged by the school’s hope to improved, he is disappointed they didn’t use their two year planning period effectively.
Secretary Godowsky agrees with the Charter School Accountability Committee decision and requests assent of the State Board of Education to revoke Delaware Met’s charter and the school to be closed by the end of this marking period, January 22nd.
Dr. Gray is giving the motion. First, Seconded. Discussion. Heffernan: “It’s a mess. There is no excuse for not being ready.”
Dr. Gray is talking about a charter school closure in mid-January. She is asking how it happens? Nagourney is explaining the DOE reaches out to parents to explain the closure process. Heffernan said the feeder schools have to take them back. Deputy Secretary of Education David Blowman (for now) is explaining January 22nd would be a natural break for the students since it is the end of the marking period.
Heffernan is asking why this happened. He said in looking at their updates, they were more worried about recruiting students and he didn’t see any real planning for other stuff until this past August. Blowman is saying it is very difficult to open a new school. He thinks there needs to be another look at how they approve schools.
The question is being asked about if the funding will follow the students back to their feeder schools. Blowman said it is the state’s intention to make that happen. Blowman is talking about how 59 out of 59 IEPs were out of compliance. The staffing levels at a maximum got to 3 1/2 to 4 even though they were eligible for 9 units based on the number of special education students on IEPs. There wasn’t enough staff to cover their needs. Blowman is saying an IEP isn’t just a document, it is a federally binding document that governs the services a student with a disability gets in the school.
Melendez is talking about the safety concerns and other students coming to the school. Blowman said at the end of the day, the CSAC was not convinced the climate was getting better. Coverdale is saying a Del Met student is not a Cab Calloway student and the starting point in building relationships with these students is harder when kids come from trauma.
Heffernan is saying this is a very severe action to take but what are the other options. He said he could never figure out how many students left the school throughout this process. Two members of the Del Met board are in the audience. Coverdale is saying he isn’t convinced the kids will be better off in their feeder pattern schools. Blowman said the final meeting with Del Met was 4 1/2 hours long and he is stressing their recommendation was the students will be safer in their feeder schools. Those students would be better served for the remainder of the school year. He said it was not an easy decision to make.
Godowsky said there will be discussions with charters in the area about students potentially choicing into them as well. Heffernan can’t understand how Del Met miscalculated. Heff is asking about how the funding issues even work. He said the funding will be prorated. Nobody knows how much staff is left that are certified teachers. Gray is saying some students who were in alternative schools may not be able to go back to their feeder patterns. Nagourney said Charter School Office is working to make sure no students fall through the cracks. A member of the audience named CEO Hope said “I’ll take them, I’ll take them.”
Donna Johnson is saying many students were misinformed and thought they would have to sit home until the end of the school year based on comments at the 2nd public hearing. Dr. Gray is asking about the written response to the initial public hearing and who wrote that response. Innovative Schools wrote the response. She is asking where the official response is from the school’s board to address the deficiencies in the school. Nagourney said she got something from the board today but it was after the official public comment period. Godowsky is bringing it home and saying every single area of review was a serious problem. He said he came to this conclusion in the best interest of the Delaware Met students.
The Delaware State Board of Education is getting ready to vote…
Gray reads the motion, four yes for revocation, one nay (Coverdale). Delaware Met is done as of January 22nd.
*This article has been corrected to reflect the actual vote of 4-1, not 6-1. Board member Whittaker was absent, and I want to say Melendez or Bunting were not there for the vote.
You would think, facing the State Board of Education this week and hoping for a miracle that your charter may not get revoked in the middle of the school year, that you would do everything possible to stop the cycle of violence at your school. This is obviously not the case with the Delaware Met. But then again, this is a school like no other because no charters in Delaware have ever had their charter revoked mid-year. This will most likely happen tomorrow. But I’m sure this is small comfort for the student who had a chair thrown at his head on Tuesday. This resulted in a trip to the emergency room and stitches. With all the additional support this school has put in place: a new principal, school climate officers, discipline staff, and mentors, you would think someone would be able to prevent this pattern of behavior. But no, not at the Delaware Met. I don’t know if these students can afford to wait until January 22nd for this school to close.
It is becoming painfully obvious that this school does need to close. As I’ve said numerous times, you can’t put a Band-Aid on a wound that needs a tourniquet. I am changing this article to reflect that Kendall Massett and the Delaware Charter Schools Network did actually encourage the school to reach out to other charters. As well, DCSN did contact other charters in an attempt to help Delaware Met. I truly don’t know what happened from there, but we are where we are now. I can say this though, there will be no situation where Kendall negotiates a deal where another charter essentially takes over the school. I would have to assume that with Innovative Schools huge role in this school (more so than any other charter they have provided support for in the past), that could get VERY complicated. My apologies to Kendall for my earlier comments!
Tomorrow, we will know the fate of Delaware Met. The odds are in favor of charter revocation effective at the end of this marking period. The big question then becomes this: where will the students go? The last thing these students need is more chaos and uncertainty. But does Innovative Schools care about that? Not at all. They care about their bottom line, not the students.
Can someone please tell me why Innovative Schools gave a tour of the school to Las Americas Aspiras Academy during the school day? Yes, Innovative Schools MUST get a new tenant for the building. Regardless of the fact that students and staff in the school are probably having a great deal of anxiety and pressure over the pending decision by the Delaware State Board of Education. Regardless of the fact that Innovative Schools is just as responsible, if not more, for what happened at this school. For a charter school management organization, they really suck! I will have MUCH more to say about Innovative Schools…
In the public hearings and public comment for Delaware Met, I have yet to find any parent going nuts about all the police activity there. I have to believe at most schools parents would be up in arms about this stuff. If I were a parent of a Del Met student, I would be asking some serious questions. Instead, they are acting like the school is the victim. I’m sorry, but if the school doesn’t know how to act in certain situations, whether they just opened or they have been around for twenty years, than they are the ones at fault. They KNEW exactly what their student population looked like over the summer and they failed to adequately do something about it until AFTER the fact.
The school’s explanations for the police visits are good, in the sense that they acknowledge what was going on. But they failed to prevent it.
Last Monday, December 7th, the Delaware Met had their final formal review public hearing. Numerous students spoke out in support of the school, along with teachers, board members, staff, and parents. Upon reading the transcript, I could not find one negative comment about the school. Every single speaker, and there were many, wanted the school to stay open. Many acknowledged the issues but said those situations are getting better. Do you think the Delaware Met should close or stay open?
The public comment period ending at 11:59pm last evening. To read through the entire 82 page transcript from the public hearing, please read below:
When things went south at Delaware Met, it kept going and going and going. Like the Energizer Bunny, the Wilmington Police Department kept going and going and going, right to the Delaware Met. To make arrests, stop fights, collect loaded BB guns, and so forth. Here is a list of all the times the police came to the school, the nature of the complaint, and the result:
Wow. That is all I can really say about this. Wow. And yet all these parents are begging to keep the school open…
Tomorrow is the last day to give public comment which you can do here: https://form.jotform.com/52888685884178?
I received an email from someone who went to the Delaware Met public hearing tonight. They wished to remain anonymous. They sent me a very good indication of what the crowd was saying: Save our school!
I went to the MET school public hearing tonight.
All reports I’ve heard: from the News Journal and a student there, were horrible: one kid setting another’s hair on fire; one kid’s head banged into a wall and left a hole in the dry wall; frequent police calls; etc. In response, the Head of School quit; the Board recommended closing, and then changed their minds; and the DOE is recommending closing the school on 1-21-16.
But tonight was a love fest. Only one person from the school’s board spoke; though the guy from the big conglomerate was in the audience.
I was at the hearing from 5:00 – 6:30 and they were still going strong when I left. I didn’t count the number of speakers — probably at least 20. They were mostly students and parents. A couple of teachers spoke, one of whom started work 6 days ago. Several of the girls were crying; the parents were praising the school, and angry with the State Board. All thought the school was the best thing ever!
Most commanding was Councilmember Hanifa Shabazz, who eloquently and angrily “demanded” that the DOE let them know where these 225 students were going to school in January. She and another parent asked to at least extend the closing till the end of the school year.
A common theme was that the kids had grades of F till they came to this school, and now got Bs. There was also talk about good relationships between students and teachers at the school. Some students said if they had to go back to a public school, they would probably fail or drop out, or get into trouble again.
None of this addressed the “crime in the school” issue, or the fact that there have already been so many transfers out that the head count is way down, and that could affect financial viability.
If the DOE can’t close a seriously struggling school like this – they can’t close anything.
But those opposed to the closing have an excellent point – how could the school be approved and accept so many students, without the assurance from the State that it could function effectively? Can remedial support solve these problems? That is one of many questions.
Thank you for sending this to me “anonymous”! What frightens me the most about all this: no one is talking about special education and how students with disabilities are not having their Free Appropriate Public Education. For those who don’t know, it’s called FAPE. It means when you receive special education, you also get FAPE. But if your IEP isn’t even done, or the school isn’t accommodating your IEP, you are not getting FAPE. It’s very easy for a crowd to slam the DOE and State Board over “where is my child going to go now” and “this school is so much better”. I encourage all these parents and community members to read about Delaware Met’s final meeting with the Charter School Accountability Committee. Seriously. Read it. These are some key things that make a school work, and Delaware Met isn’t even doing that. I get the whole community thing and helping each other out. But this school is dangerous to leave open. We don’t even know who is running things there now. Is it A.J. English and his mentoring company? Pritchett and Associates? Innovative Schools? Teachers are leaving, and there aren’t many certified teachers left in the building. It also doesn’t make fiscal sense to send all that money to the school in February when the bulk of the staff aren’t even there anymore.
I completely understand parents being worried about what happens with their child. I’ve been there, a few times. And it sucks. Bad. But I would rather move my child than keep him in a school that is falling apart. No matter how much he may love it, I know at the end of the day I have to look out for his best interests. Delaware Met parents, I have written about MANY schools on this blog. Many charters. And trust me when I say that NONE have been anywhere close to the level this school is at. This is a tragedy beyond measurement. I blame the DOE and the State Board for many things that I feel are wrong in public education. But this is one time where they actually got it right.
There is a serious conversation that needs to happen in regards to what oversight the DOE has over charter schools from the time they approve them and when the doors open. But at the end of the day, the Delaware Met’s board and staff are the ones that failed this school. Not the DOE, not the State Board, and not the students. They had a job to do, and unfortunately, they didn’t do it. You can’t put band aids on a gaping flesh wound. It may stop the bleeding temporarily, but it doesn’t heal the wound. Your children deserve much better than this.
After last week’s recommendation by the Delaware Charter School Accountability Committee to revoke the Delaware Met’s charter effective January 22nd, 2016, the school’s leader has decided to resign. Tricia Hunter Crafton submitted her resignation on December 3rd. As well, the board appears to be in turmoil and an emergency board meeting was scheduled for 12/4/15. Good luck finding this on their website though. It doesn’t look like they have been doing much on there at all. In fact, they didn’t even have a board meeting in November! One of the board members reached out to me anonymously and explained how frustrated they are with everything going on.
This train is in motion, and barring a miracle, I don’t think anything will stop this school from closing down. The decision will be made by the Delaware State Board of Education on December 17th. Meanwhile, surrounding districts and charters are planning for an influx of new students. Some schools are already balking at taking these students, even though it is in the students’ local feeder pattern. These students need to find a school fast, and any district or charter that receives them needs to do so with welcome arms and be very proactive in making sure these students needs are met. For the special education students, these schools need to be on top of this. These students have already missed a lot of time, and they need help.
As well, I am very curious what happens with the building. Delaware Met sub-leases the school from Innovative School Development Corporation who leases it from a company called Charter School Development Corporation. That company bought the building from the State of Delaware who had bought the building from Bank of America who acquired the building in the MBNA merger back in 2006. This is prime real estate. First State Montessori Academy is right next to it, and down the street is the Community Education Building, which currently houses three charter schools. This is all in downtown Wilmington. In fact, the building is right next door to Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn’s office! The bizarre part with this whole funky real estate deal was that Innovate Schools donated $1 million dollars to the Charter School Development Corporation prior to leasing the 920 N. French St. location from them for Delaware Met.
Hunter Crafton joined the Delaware Met last Spring. In the third week of September, she went out on maternity leave and returned in mid-November. She was only back at the school for a few weeks before quitting. While she is leaving, I am hearing some of the board members are gearing for a fight of some sort. I don’t think this is going to be as easy as the Delaware DOE seems to think.
I knew things were bad at Delaware Met. I knew things I was unable to confirm officially. But the reality, and other things I didn’t know about…
Below are just a few of the things said during Delaware Met’s final formal review meeting with the Charter School Accountability Committee on 12/1/15. This is a must-read! If you ever want to open a school, I would highly recommend doing the opposite of what Delaware Met did, and you should do great! Below these quotes is the full meeting notes.
Ms. Ogden also noted that the school was not prepared for the unannounced monitoring visit, as there were active files on the table and a flash drive was lost in the first room the DDOE staff monitored. She also added that, during the DDOE monitoring visit, an event occurred which set off the fire alarm and resulted in evacuation from the building and no access to the special education resource room on the second floor where the active special education files were stored. Ms. Ogden stated that “the second floor was condemned.”
She added that the lessons plans are for middle school, more specifically early middle school, although The Delaware Met is a high school.
Mr. Blowman commented that the School Leader should be able to go out on maternity leave without the school falling apart. He noted that these issues point to massive weaknesses in the school’s organizational model.
Ms. Nagourney requested clarification whether the Board took action during meetings that were not publicly noticed.
Ms. Massett said that wanted the record to reflect that the school did not reach out to the charter community for assistance.
She specifically noted that the list stated that a bullet was found in one of the classrooms and asked the school why it did not contact the police in that instance.
She indicated that she was fearful about safety in the school when reading about BB guns and tasers.
However, she expressed disappointment that the school listed two calls for severe student disruption despite seven different instances leading to nine arrests being listed in the information provided by WPD.
She identified several incidents, including a student’s hair being set on fire, an assault, weapons being brought to the school, near riots, and threats toward staff members as severe disruptions.
And when a school fails to meet multiple standards and fails to create a safe and appropriate environment in which students can thrive, it warrants serious action.
The motion carried unanimously.
Just kidding Kendall! But seriously, the more I am hearing about this Delaware Met meeting, the more I can’t wait to see the transcript! Meanwhile, both Avi with Newsworks and Matt Albright with the News Journal covered this big news today as well. One clarification which I am now hearing about. The school did not have most of their population as Moyer students. There were about ten of them I am now hearing. According to Avi’s article, if Godowsky and the State Board shut it down, the students will have the choice to go back to their district feeder schools or other charters. But back to Kendall, from Avi’s article:
School safety also emerged as a major theme. Wilmington police have visited Delaware Met 24 times since the school year began and made nine arrests, according to the testimony of state officials at Tuesday’s meeting. Last month, in response to a CSAC request for information, school officials said local police had only visited Delaware Met six times.
That discrepency irked Kendall Massett, executive director of the Delaware Charter School Network and a non-voting member of CSAC.
“It’s not the number of times the police came, it’s that they need to be honest about it,” Massett said.
Massett said she “absolutely support[ed]” the committee’s recommendation to shutter Delaware Met.
I supported this recommendation before it was even made! One important thing to take note of is the timing. The way charter school funding works, they get their next big chunk of funding in February. By shutting the school down in January, this would prevent them from getting those funds and squandering them if they knew the school was going to shut down at the end of the year. Even the DOE issued a press release on this:
The Delaware Department of Education’s Charter School Accountability Committee today recommended the revocation of Delaware MET’s charter in January because of academic, operational, governance and financial problems at the Wilmington school.
A public hearing is scheduled for 5 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Carvel State Office Building at the corner of 9th and French streets in Wilmington. Public comment will be accepted through December 11. After reviewing the full record, Secretary of Education Steven Godowsky will present his decision regarding the school’s future to the State Board of Education for its assent at the board’s December 17 meeting.
Issues considered by the committee include:
Educational program, specifically:
o Fidelity to the school’s approved curriculum and instructional program, including the Big Picture Learning instructional model, use of technology, participation in various coalitions, and implementation status of project-based learning. Lessons plans submitted to CSAC also were found to be out of alignment with the state’s academic standards.
o Special education services, including the results of a recent monitoring visit by the Department of Education’s Exceptional Children Resources staff that found the school was out of compliance with all 59 of its students’ Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).
School culture, specifically safety and discipline concerns
Governing board and leadership capacity, specifically lack of compliance with open meeting laws
Financial viability, specifically due both to decreased student enrollment and the school’s budget not reflecting full compliance with programmatic requirements, including special education
Delaware MET, which opened this fall, was placed on formal review by the State Board of Education on October 15.
Should Secretary Godowsky and the State Board follow the committee’s recommendation to revoke the charter, the school would close on January 22, the end of the second marking period. The state would assist the school’s 210 students and their families in moving to other schools for the rest of the academic year. The children may return to the district schools in their home feeder patterns or choice into another district or charter school that is accepting students. The receiving schools would receive prorated funding for the returning students.
As they look toward next year, families also may fill out the state’s School Choice application for another district or charter school for 2016-17. The application deadline is January 13, 2016.
I feel bad for these kids. I truly do. It is one thing to have a school not service you and give you a proper education. Delaware Met is another thing altogether! I really hope the State Board of Education and Godowsky do the right thing here. Perhaps the State Board won’t be so quick to approve so many charter schools all at once and will really look at the wisdom of that decision. Perhaps it is time to take a fresh new look at the whole charter school application process. Because it isn’t just Delaware Met. Yes, the spotlight is on them, and they made the most unwise decisions. But other new charters are experiencing severe growing pains. First State Military Academy is now going on their third special education coordinator. I’m not sure if they made their IEP compliance deadline as a new school, but I don’t like what I’m hearing in terms of the school’s issues with understanding the IEP process and what they feel are appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities.
One thing that will become a huge problem in the future for all schools is the concept of personalized learning. If you have a personalized learning program at your school, the IEP is covered under a federal program called IDEA. For those who may not know this, the decisions of an IEP team, covered by federal law, trumps the online learning system. As an example, if a student is required to do 15 out of 20 math problems based on their IEP, than the school needs to honor that. You can’t say the computer score is right and you have to go by that. Unfortunately, the state standardized assessment is another issue. But for unit tests and quizzes, and even homework done on the computer, these schools need to contact these companies like Schoology and learn how THEIR system can accommodate students with IEPs, not the other way around.
As for Delaware Met, they had plenty of time to get it right and it comes down to very bad choices. I’m sure they knew their head of school was pregnant when she got the job last March. Knowing that, why would you not plan for the eventual maternity leave? Sorry, I’m just getting really tired of hearing that excuse. I have to wonder how much training and professional development teachers really got at this school. Positive Outcomes has the same Big Picture Learning program, and they haven’t had the issues Delaware Met is experiencing. And they are a school with about 60% of their population having IEPs. I’m sure the school will play the blame game on the districts and other charters for failing to send them information about the students. But given the issues with the staff and Innovative Schools, I have to wonder how much effort was put into actually requesting those records. We can’t assume everything coming from the school is the Gospel truth. I caught Innovative Schools in at least three lies at their first Charter School Accountability Committee meeting.
At the end of the day, it is about doing the right thing, and Delaware Met failed. I have no doubt the intention was there with many of their board members, but this needs to be a lesson learned for those wanting to start a school without the experience to back it up. First State Military Academy and many other schools are using models that are strongly suggested by Innovative Schools. Perhaps it is past time Innovative Schools has a state investigation and audit to see how useful the services they are offering Delaware charters truly are and how much is wasteful.