In the next round of Delaware charter schools that have salaries over $100,000, we have an eclectic mix that include two Kent County schools and three New Castle county. Two are military schools, one has a pseudo-religious theme, one is a first responder school, and the other has a unique partnership with Delaware State University. In my eyes, if you are going to have a charter school, make it different from the schools around you. And these charters certainly fit the bill! Two of them, as you can see by their demographics, are on my radar of what I view as skewed special populations in some areas. One of them, however, could disappear by the end of June if they don’t get their student enrollment up very soon! Delaware Military Academy is authorized by Red Clay Consolidated School District. ECHS and the two FSMAs opened up after the News Journal came out with their salary article in 2014. Continue reading
At a recent basketball game between Delaware Military Academy and A.I. DuPont High School, a fight broke out when DMA or students in the stands allegedly used racial slurs including the “n” word. As a result, the A.I. team has been suspended the rest of the season while the DMA players seemingly have not been punished for instigating the incident. I do not condone using force to resolve issues. If there was fighting, then certainly the A.I. players should be punished. With that being said, the use of racist slurs should NOT go unpunished. Details are sparse on this incident and I did reach out to Red Clay Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty and Delaware Military Academy Commandant Anthony Pullella to see if they can confirm what actions took place. As of this writing, I have yet to receive a response from either of them.
Apparently, this is not the only incident involving charter schools within Red Clay and Red Clay high schools. Several parents have suggested there was an incident between Charter School of Wilmington and Cab Calloway and the incident with DMA is not the first time racial slurs were said by DMA players.
Without “actual” documentation, much of this is hearsay. However, when enough parents start talking about something, expect a lot of noise. I don’t think this matter is going to quietly go away. For the current school year, DMA has a population of African-American students of 5.8% while A.I. DuPont has 36.1% according to the Delaware Dept. of Education website.
Updated, 10:42am: The News Journal covered the team’s suspension but not a single word was written about the alleged racial slurs.
Updated, 10:55am: The incident did not involve actual assault but players from A.I. rushing to the student seats at the DMA home game. Their coach had explicitly informed them to stay in their seats. Red Clay closed the investigation last week but it was reopened as of today. If anyone has firsthand knowledge of racial slurs being used at this game, please contact the Red Clay Consolidated District Office and Delaware Military Academy.
Updated, 11:00am: I have not received any response to my request for information from Daugherty or Pullella.
Updated, 12:34pm: Red Clay Board of Education member Adriana Bohm put the following message on Facebook:
In regards to the AI/DMA situation and based on information I received I requested the case be re-opened and it was reopened this morning. If folks heard the “N Word” and other racially derogatory language being used at the game please file an official complaint and write a letter to the Red Clay School Board. The email address is RCBOARDMEMBERS@redclay.k12.de.us. You may also message me so we can talk.
Updated, 1:27pm: I heard back from Red Clay Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty. I will include my initial request as well as his response:
Several people have reached out to me this morning in regards to a fight at a DMA basketball game. What I’m hearing is the AI team has been suspended the rest of the season. I’ve also heard the catalyst for this fight was the use of racial slurs by DMA players that have gone unpunished. Can you confirm any of this? This is under the assumption you would not know or be able to control what kind of punishment would occur for DMA players.
Dr. Daugherty’s Response:
We have investigated this incident for several days. We have interviewed coaches, administrators, security personnel, and parents of players from both teams who were at the game. None of those persons interviewed reported hearing any racial slurs. The decision to forfeit the remainder of the season (one game) and the playoffs was made because of the players actions at the conclusion of the game. The account of the incident in today’s News Journal is accurate. And, you are correct in that Red Clay is not responsible for the discipline of DMA students.
I have yet to receive a response from Commandant Pullella at Delaware Military Academy. There appears to be some confusion on whether the alleged racial epithets were coming from DMA basketball players or students in the stands.
Updated, 2/23/17, 4:28pm: I have updated this article to reflect that the alleged racial slurs came from Delaware Military Academy students in the stands, not their basketball players. There have been several reports about a hostile attitude at the game towards the A.I. DuPont High School team.
Matt Albright with the Delaware News Journal just wrote an article on Delaware Military Academy looking to expand. During their charter renewal process, Delaware Military Academy (DMA) asked for a modification to increase their enrollment from 566 cadets to 715 over the next five years. To do so, they would need additional facilities to hold the students. They need capital funding to do this. Delaware charter law explicitly states charters in the state do not receive capital funding. Another Delaware charter, Odyssey, was highlighted in the News Journal a couple weeks ago for wanting this as well. Albright wrote:
The school has a plan for how to expand, but it does not know yet how it will pay for it. This is a common concern for charter schools because they do not get capital funding from state government like traditional schools do. That means charters must stretch their budgets if they want to build new facilities or make major renovations.
That is the way the law was written Matt! Come on, you know this. So why are you pandering to the charters? I don’t see you asking citizens to vote yes in traditional school district school referendums. This is just a big advertisement for the legislators. This is how the charter community works. They get the News Journal to write stories about what they are sorely lacking, right before the legislative session begins, in the hopes it will become an “issue”. If I were the Red Clay board, I wouldn’t approve this modification if the school does not have the ability to hold the additional students and doesn’t have the funding available. This is very poor planning on DMA’s part. Crying poor after they submit a modification but before it is even approved shows poor judgment.
A recent bill which passed in the Florida House of Representatives would allow charters in the state to get 40% of the district’s funding for capital costs. The capital funding part was just a part of a larger bill, but the bill had no controversy until the capital funding section was added. Other highlights of the bill include:
The proposal would create the Florida Institute for Charter School Innovation to help new charter schools. It would also make it easier for top-performing charter schools to replicate themselves in high-need areas and specify that charter schools receiving back-to-back Fs would be automatically closed.
This is something Commandant Anthony Pullella, the leader of DMA, is already pushing for.
Pullella isn’t calling for the state to instantly start giving charters as much capital money as it does traditional school districts. But he does believe schools should be able to earn some assistance if they prove they are effective.
He proposes, for example, a graduated system in which a charter could earn 25 percent of a traditional school’s capital funding after five years of proven success. It could progressively earn more the longer it continues to show it is successful.
I could easily see some of the legislators in Delaware trying something similar to what the Florida House just passed. In addition, other parts of the Florida charter bill are taking shape in Delaware. We are seeing this with the Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities. As well, the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee recommended an organization to oversee all the Wilmington charter schools.
Charter schools were required to be models of innovation that local districts could emulate. But the problem with the perceived success Pullella talks about is the fact that this is based on standardized test scores. This is the barometer of all public schools success in Delaware. There is also the question about the school population and how charters select their applicants. Any school can be a success if the application process is flawed and only the best and the brightest are allowed in. This is something quite a few charter schools in Delaware have issues with. Including the biggest: Charter School of Wilmington, another Red Clay authorized charter.
But the big kicker is this: what happens if the school closes? Since charters are considered corporations and they are not state-owned, the property would revert back to that corporation. Any funding a state kicked in would be lost forever. Something Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams brought up in the News Journal article as well:
“What if the school closes? Does the state get the building? It’s kind of a gray area,” she said. “DMA is very popular with parents. But they knew coming into this that that kind of funding was not available to them.”
Chances are we will see that exact situation play out in exactly one week when the State Board of Education will most likely revoke Delaware Met’s charter and have them close after this marking period ends. While the school received no capital funding, they did receive $175,000 as part of the Delaware Charter School Performance Fund. Money from this fund can go to capital costs with very little oversight. We are now seeing, after twenty years of charters siphoning off more and more local school district dollars, Delaware charters wanting to change the playing field even more in their favor. Even though they get tons of money from the Longwood Foundation, they still want more. Based on an illusion of success called standardized test scores. And as usual, they find a public spotlight in the form of the News Journal.
When folks say I am anti-charter, I’m not. I’m all about following the rules. If it isn’t Family Foundations Academy squandering over a million dollars, or Delaware Met’s self-nuking a month after they opened, its stuff like this that drives me crazy about charters. They brag about how great they are and act like they don’t have any money. But DMA apparently had extra money to spend when they went through their own investigation with the Delaware State Auditor’s office a few years ago. And lets not even get into special education at a lot of these charters. They know exactly what I’m talking about, right guys?
I fully expect to see someone, possibly a Republican State Rep. or Senator, to introduce some crazy legislation like this in Delaware during the second part of the 148th General Assembly. The big difference between Florida and Delaware is that the Republicans don’t hold the majority in the First State. My recommendation to Delaware charters: stop whining about what you don’t have and looking for short cuts. You know where to go to get that kind of money, so give the DuPonts a call. Or one of the numerous charter-loving “foundations” or “non-profits” out there. But stop asking an already cash-strapped state for more money. And stop expecting to get more from the local districts. Because at the rate you are “expanding” and “growing”, you are getting more of the local share of school district money than you ever were. But what happens when those districts reach the breaking point, and they are no longer able to pass referendums? Look at Christina as a model of this. Cause if you don’t, you will end up shooting yourselves in the foot.
The one thing charters in Delaware do much better than traditional school districts is parent engagement. I don’t think anyone will contest that. But please, stop brainwashing these parents into reaching out to the media to get your way. The bizarre cult-like fascination with some Delaware parents and charters is bad enough as it is.
As for the News Journal: please stop with your charter loving articles. Yes, you write about the bad too. But you try to bring issues up not because they are truly newsworthy, but because you are getting calls from the charter lobbyists who also happen to be aligned with your biggest advertisers. It’s called bias, and it is well-known throughout the state.
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)|
|Suspensions and Expulsions|
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…