For Immediate Release:
August 19th, 2016
Henry Clampitt, a Hockessin resident in the suburbs of Wilmington, DE, joined the Board of Directors at Gateway Lab School. Clampitt previously served as a board member for the top-rated but controversial Charter School of Wilmington. He is also a very vocal public speaker at Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education meetings. In a sense, Clampitt has gone from one of the highest-rated (as measured by standardized test scores) schools in the state to one of the lowest. While this hasn’t been officially announced by the charter school known for serving high populations of special needs students, he does appear on the list of their Board of Directors as shown in the below graphic. It is unknown when he officially joined the board since their board meeting minutes have not been updated even though they have had two official board meetings since then.
As a boisterous supporter of Delaware charter schools, Clampitt served on the Enrollment Preference Task Force in Delaware and supported charter schools abilities to pre-test students prior to enrollment. He also serves as a member of the Legislative Advisory Committee for the Delaware Charter Schools Network, a lobbyist organization that advocates and protects charter schools in Delaware. He received a certification from the Delaware Department of Education for Citizens Budget Oversight Committee and Board Member Finance Training. In addition, as per his LinkedIn account, Clampitt received his real estate certification from the Delaware Department of Professional Regulation. In addition to his job at Strategy Services, Inc., Clampitt keeps himself very busy with his support of charter schools.
A source, who wished to remain anonymous but did allow me to use their alias “CherryPicker2016”, said the following about Clampitt’s new role:
I think Clampitt will be a wonderful addition to Gateway Lab School. He has the charter school expertise and wherewithal to serve on a charter school board. He knows his way around charter schools given his time at Charter School of Wilmington. I believe any board member is a good thing, whether they are publicly elected or not. Why wouldn’t Gateway want a fervent charter supporter like Clampitt?
Another source, who also wished to remain anonymous but also allowed me to use their alias of “Erece Desiul Blup” had this to say:
This guy talks and talks. I hope Gateway invested in some good audio recording devices for their board meetings and have a lot of memory on their servers. They are going to need it. Perhaps this means he won’t be going to as many Red Clay board meetings. That would be super!”
I did advise Mr. Blup that this blog will be very interested to hear what Mr. Clampitt has to say at future Gateway board meetings.
Rumors swirled months ago that Clampitt may be attempting to run against Red Clay Board Vice-President Kenneth Rivera next year, but nothing came of that. Additional rumors, based on a fake Twitter account, suggested that Clampitt was using an alias to post on a local blog in support of charter schools, but that has never been 100% substantiated. That particular anonymous commenter gave a farewell post on the local blog a while back indicating they would no longer be posting there, it was time to move on, and something to the effect of “the lawn sign is down”. The commenter has not been back since.
Ironically enough, Clampitt served on the board at CSW during a tough time in the public spotlight. In December of 2014, CSW was named in a complaint from the American Civil Liberties Union against the Red Clay Consolidated School District and the Delaware Dept. of Education. The complaint alleged that CSW, along with other charter schools in the state, were furthering discrimination in the state by allowing charter schools to use selective enrollment preferences in their admissions processes. The Red Clay Consolidated School District is Charter School of Wilmington’s authorizer. At that time, Charter School of Wilmington had a .2% population of students with disabilities, 6% African-American students, 2.3% low-income students, and .1% English Language learners. Since Clampitt left their board, CSW was able to raise those student populations. As of the 2015-2016 school year, they jumped to .5% students with disabilities, 6.8% African-American students, 3.7% low-income students and .2% English Language learners. At the same time as the ACLU complaint, Clampitt served on the board during an era of “non-transparency” as “Cherrypicker2016” put it, and the board was criticized by their authorizer for not putting board minutes and financial information on their board site as required by Delaware state code.
During this time, Gateway Lab School was in the midst of their own turmoil. They were up for charter renewal with the Dept. of Education. The initial recommendations coming out of the committee were to close the school over low standardized test scores, but a public outcry from parents of the school, other charter school supporters, legislators, and concerned citizens and organizations prompted the Delaware State Board of Education to put the charter school on probation. This reporter did comb through the hundreds of pages of public comment during this process and was unable to find any letters of support for the school from Clampitt or Charter School of Wilmington.
In an October, 2015 Delaware Charter Schools Network newsletter, Clampitt was chosen as the “Parent Spotlight” recipient. When discussing education politics, Clampitt did not recommend this for everyone.
Education politics is a challenging topic. I would say that parents should only get involved in educational politics if they can keep focused on the issues rather than on the people behind them. The political process is not for the faint of heart.
When asked in the same newsletter what he would do if he had a million dollars, Clampitt responded with:
Well, let’s be clear that this would be “the million dollar windfall” I have been waiting for. When it arrives, I would like to use it to help endow a fund for the expansion of CSW so that more students could be enrolled and enjoy this excellent high school experience.
Clampitt did not elaborate if this imaginary CSW expansion would entail changing their enrollment preferences. But after Clampitt left the board at CSW, their board did begin to talk about these topics in a new light. When asked about this very topic during one of the Enrollment Preference Task Force meetings, their board minutes from October, 2014 reflect a response from Clampitt as:
Some students, possibly due to a bad day or other life experiences, do not make it to the specific interest through the rubric.
At the next meeting of the task force, Clampitt said:
Assessments are an important tool to gather necessary information on an applicant, using interest as an example.
In February of 2013, Clampitt volunteered his services to the now closed charter school, Pencader Business School. He attempted to train their newly constructed board prior to their charter revocation by the State Board of Education.
This blog would like to congratulate Mr. Clampitt for furthering his voluntary efforts on charter school boards. While this blog may not always agree with charter schools, this blog does feel it is important for certain charter school board members to serve on charter school boards. Charter schools are autonomous of many rules and regulations traditional school districts are subjected to, so this blog feels it is necessary to point out the difference between non-elected charter school board members and publicly elected district board members. Mr. Clampitt has a very fine and distinguished career serving on charter school boards.