Innovative Schools Screws Delaware Met!!!

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…

Innovative Schools Has Not Been So Innovative With Delaware Met

Innovative Schools does many different things as a charter management organization.  For the Delaware Met, they do Human Resources, Academic, Facilities, Financial, Management Consulting, Operations, and School Models (Big Picture Learning).  For these services, Delaware Met has paid Innovative Schools around $380,000.00 just in FY 2015 alone.  At most charters, this work is handled by 2-3 people: the school leader, a principal, and a business manager.  So what does this say about Innovative Schools and the developments at Delaware Met?

Other schools Innovative Schools has been involved in with in a financial capacity are Academy of Dover, Delaware College Prep, Delaware Military Academy, Family Foundations Academy and Providence Creek Academy.  What do all these charters have in common?  Investigations by the State Auditor’s office for financial abuse, usually with procurement cards.  If Innovative Schools is keeping track of the finances at these schools, how is it all five of them have had individuals abusing finances for their own personal use in some way?  Two of the schools they handled finances for where shut down: Moyer and Reach.  I truly believe the DOE and the State Auditor’s office may want to take a very strong look at Innovative Schools and what role they have played in Delaware charter schools.

For Delaware Met, it seems more and more like Innovative Schools is running the board, not the other way around the way it should be.  Don’t be fooled, Innovative Schools is making all of the decisions.  We can’t just blame Delaware Met, Innovative Schools has played an even bigger role in the failure of this charter that just opened two months ago.  Why is there no School Resource Officer in the school even though it is budgeted in to their 2016 budget?  That could solve a lot of the issues there.  What is Innovative Schools doing?  It seems as if they are holding the school hostage and limiting what they can do.  If the school needs them, Innovative Schools makes more money, pure and simple.

What Happened To Innovative Schools Operations Manager At Delaware Met?

It seems Jemeul Anderson is no longer the Operations Manager for The Delaware Met.  This role is through Innovative Schools.  As announced last night, The Delaware Met is up for formal review consideration at the Delaware State Board of Education meeting tomorrow.  According to Join Delaware Schools, a job posting went up yesterday for an Operations Manager at The Delaware Met.  Just click on all jobs, go to administrative, and then look at the last entry, posted 10/13/15.  Innovative School’s website still has Anderson listed as the operations manager for the school.

The tension concerning this school is way past the boiling point.  With Anderson already gone, who is overseeing the management and operations of this school?  The rumors coming out of this school are getting more bizarre by the day.  Delaware State Rep Kim Williams reported on Delaware First State about a letter coming from the school on September 29th concerning a student leaving, but they are now saying the student can’t leave because it was after the September 30th count.  I will continue to pray for these students…

On Monday evening, founding board members Adriane Anderson-Strange and Jillian Wattley resigned from the Delaware Met board.

Updated 12/16/15: The above crossed out part did not happen, I was given erroneous information.

Innovative Schools Bold Plans For Education In Delaware

Innovative Schools started as a charter school management organization, but they are trying to get bigger.  They have already infiltrated Seaford School District with their Delaware New Tech Academy, and they have plans to get even bigger by 2020.  In the application for Delaware STEM Academy (opening next fall), Innovative Schools comes right out and says what these plans are.

Innovative Schools Plans

All of these “partnerships”, like this Alliance of Model Schools, and the BrINC program run by four school districts, is it for the students or a way to solidify those in power?  Do we really need charter schools within actual school districts like Seaford is doing?  Sorry Innovative Schools, this is just more Rodel inspired Vision.  I think we are all getting a bit sick of all this because we have yet to see the results of all these partnerships…

With NO charters set to open past Mapleton (whatever happens with their change to Discovery and their move to Dover) and Delaware STEM Academy next fall, and a one to two year turnaround for charter application, how is this going to happen?  Does this mean we should expect a flood of charter applications coming in to the Delaware DOE in the next few months?  Where are we going to put all these new charters?  Wilmington is stacked to the brim.  Dover is starting to get a bit crowded especially if Mapleton/Discovery gets their major modification approved.  I can picture a drive to get more charters into Sussex County.  Doesn’t mean I agree with it, but I can see it happening…

The Funky Real Estate Deals For 920 N. French St., Home of Delaware Met

Last March, Larry Nagengast with WDDE wrote a very good article on Innovative Schools.  It is no longer on the WDDE website, but a pdf of it is floating around on the internet.  In this article, which delved into many things with Innovative Schools, Nagengast wrote:

But Delaware Met, like many charters, did not have the funds to purchase the building outright.

According to Swanson and Childs, Innovative Schools approached the Charter Schools Development Corporation (CSDC), a nonprofit based in the Washington, D.C., area that finance and develops charter school sites and had an interest in entering the Delaware market. Innovative Schools contributed $1 million to CSDC, which then purchased the building from the state. (The actual purchase price was not given on New Castle County property records.) CSDC is leasing the building back to Innovative Schools, which is subleasing it to Delaware Met.

The leasing arrangement, Swanson says, provides a measure of protection for CSDC in the event Delaware Met does not succeed because Innovative Schools, as a charter manager, would be in a position to secure another school as a tenant to use the space.

The New Castle County property records shows it purchased the building from the state for $10.00.  But this website says that for all the sales of this building, so that can’t be correct.  Why would Innovative Schools “contribute” $1 million in 2012 to a company that then bought the building for Delaware Met, and then Innovative Schools subleases it to Delaware Met?  Looks like that leasing arrangement was a good idea for CSDC.  Too bad there is a moratorium on any new charters until 2017 or so.  This is going to be VERY interesting to watch.  More to come, and I’m pretty sure there may be some more mainstream coverage of this in the next day or two…  Meanwhile, I just hope all of this is not too toxic for these students who have been shuffled around Wilmington charters…

Delaware Met Paid $380,000 To Innovative Schools Over Two Years…For What?

Now that the Delaware Met is closing down a month after it opened them, many in Delaware are asking “what the hell happened?”  Don’t worry, I’m in that same group.  In all my time doing this, I never got a lead that turned into something solid within hours, much less a lead that announced the closure of a charter school that no  one seemed to be any the wiser about their difficulties.  But my big question surrounds their management organization: Innovative Schools.  What did Innovative Schools actually do that warranted them receiving $380,000 since July of 2013?  And why were there employees being paid since July 2013 as well when the school didn’t even open until two years later?

From July 2013 until March 2014, we see salaries going out twice a month ranging from $3,245.19 to $4,110.59 (only once for this one, ironically, 12 days before Christmas).  Then in March, it bumps up to around $5,400 a month, but then back down to $2,700 in June.  Who was getting paid these funds?  And for what?  Meanwhile, Innovative Schools had over $380,000.00 in 26 months on their tab.  That’s some serious coin for a charter that hadn’t even opened yet for the bulk of these funds!  The Delaware Met website, which hasn’t had any board minutes posted (and their only one) since October of 2014, shows 15 board members.  And under the section entitled “School Leader’s Blog”, someone named Tricia talks about how she accepted the position of Head of School in May, 2015.  And good luck finding any staff, they don’t exist on the website.  Now the DOE website shows the Head of School to be Patricia Hunter Crafton, so I have to assume that would be “Tricia”.  But when I emailed the DOE and The Delaware Met for information yesterday, I received an out of office email for Crafton indicating she was out on maternity leave until November.  Nash Childs is listed as the President of their Board, but no relation to Great Oaks Charter School leader Kia Childs.

So who was the Innovative Schools lead for The Delaware Met?  Innovative Schools website lists Jemuel Anderson as the Operations Manager for The Delaware Met.  Now some bell is going off telling me I’ve heard this name before…where…where…where…and then the bell rings!  He was one of the plaintiffs when Moyer tried suing the State of Delaware over Moyer’s closure.  But Jemuel Anderson’s charter school history goes back beyond even Moyer.  He was the topic of many comments over on Kilroy’s a few years ago with the “is he” or “isn’t he” argument going back and forth over whether he was qualified to be a teacher rep on the board based on his lack of certified credentials on DEEDs (the place to look if teachers are certified or not in Delaware).  To go from either a one-on-one para (with the same student) for two years at Pencader to an Operations Manager of The Delaware Met for Innovative Schools seems like a pretty good career jump!  Astronomical I would say!

I’m just going to take a stab in the dark here and ask the obvious.  Could there maybe be some financial issues going on with this school as well?  In which case, the date of their official closure will be very interesting to watch.  If it is after September 30th, what guarantee does the State of Delaware have to ask for that money back?  If it’s already out there that the school is closing, what would happen if every single student left before September 30th?  Would they get no funding which would then force them into bankruptcy?  And it seems like it doesn’t matter if Innovative Schools cut ties with the school.  You know they have to be going “Ka-ching! We got $380,000.00 from a school that was only open a month!  Thank you Delaware taxpayers!”

Meanwhile, more Delaware students that are bounced around from Delaware charter to charter to charter are the true victims in all of this.  A generation of lost charter school students lost in the even greater sea of lost Wilmington children who are lost in the vast ocean called proficiency gaps.