Did The Governor’s Office Just Scuttle The Charter Settlement With Christina In An Act Of Premature Celebration?

In their haste to get the settlement out, did Governor Markell’s office actually blow the whole thing?

Governor Markell’s office let the settlement between the 15 charter schools and Christina School District get out to the public before all parties signed the document.  Markell’s Chief Legal Counsel, Meredith Tweedie, sent an email to State Representative Paul Baumbach yesterday according to Christina School District board member John Young.  Young posted the following on Facebook this morning:

If you needed any proof that the Charter lawsuit against Christina (not against the Governor’s office) wasn’t a shakedown, ask your self this: Why is the Governor’s office, a non-party, disseminating the not-yet-final settlement to legislators before the actual parties that signed it? They are clearly invested in this, and it comes off rotten. Here’s the email (you can see the document on Delaware Liberal):

From: Tweedie, Meredith (Governor)
Sent: Friday, December 2, 2016 7:14:23 PM
To: Baumbach, Paul (LegHall)
Subject: Charter settlement agreement–with some signatures

Good evening Representative Baumbach,

Attached is a copy of the signed Settlement Agreement (actually two copies, but it’s the same document with different signature counter-parts). This will be fully “final” when all of the Charter signatures are acquired, which we anticipate will occur early next week.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call or email me. Otherwise, have a great weekend.

Best regards,
Meredith
2 Attachments

When Christina approved the settlement at their board meeting on 12/1/16, the motion included that the settlement would not be made public until it was final.  No legal settlement is final until ALL parties have signed.  In the settlement on Delaware Liberal the  parents representing the minor children had not signed and two of the charter schools didn’t either.  Even if they publicly stated they would approve the settlement this does not translate to the settlement being final.  Presumed approval is not the same as final approval.  Since this leak from Markell’s office broke the condition of the Christina board’s approval of the settlement, does that render the settlement null and void?

Why would Jack Markell’s office leak a legal settlement that had already caused a great deal of controversy in the state to begin with?  To what purpose?  Why was the Governor’s office even in possession of this document to begin with before all parties signed on?  And even some of those signatures are suspicious based on their authorization in some of those schools.  Last night, Delaware Liberal posted the entire settlement.  I knew this wasn’t leaked from the Christina board because it had the other signatures on it which would not have been on it before or even immediately after  Christina’s board meeting.

According to the above email from Tweedie, there were two attachments, one for Christina and one for the DOE.  What were the stipulations in the DOE settlement?

Markell and Christina… this chapter needs to close fast.  Watching Markell support Christina’s referendum in a video last Spring was like watching a root canal.  The man obviously has no love for the district which spread to his puppets in the DOE during his administration.  Should a Governor target an entire school district?  It almost seems personal for him.  Certain legislators who chair certain education committees in the General Assembly don’t really hide it either.  They are transparent as Saran wrap.  Will Carney carry on this very obvious disdain?  I certainly hope not.  It has been very damaging not only to Christina but the entire education system in the state.

The Peculiarities Of The Charter School Lawsuit

wheelsonthebus

It struck me, as I awoke today at 5:30am, that some things involved with the charter school lawsuit against Christina and the Delaware DOE, that the charters were well aware of a simple fact.

Christina did not pass two referenda in 2015.  As a result, their funding from Christina was going to be less per student than what it had been last year.  With referendum, it doesn’t really kick in until the next school year.  You still have to get the taxes from the people.  So they were all warned.  They knew their payments would be less.  This is why Greg Meece became desperate, searching for needles in a haystack.  Anything to get mo money.  It’s kind of like a scientific experiment.  You want to turn air into gold.  You know it won’t work, but you keep trying.  So Meece began his journey last winter, looking for anything to justify his school getting more money.

He had help.  Of that I am nearly certain.  Someone had to give him something to look for.  Whether he searched out that person or they came to him is a matter of debate.  Meece also knew he had big financial issues coming up if he didn’t get that money.  This school year was the year his long-held dream came to fruition: a K-12 school.  His students would finally become seniors.  But if he was getting less per student, who would pay for these rising costs to run NCS?

Out of all the 15 charter schools who filed suit, NCS has the most to gain.  But do you want to know who will most likely get the most money, if they should prevail?  Saul Ewing LLP.  The attorneys always make out like bandits!

Another thing struck me.  I’ve been very hard on David Blowman through all this.  But if the Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education is the one that sends the charter bills to the districts, and Blowman was attempting to make some type of course correction from previous years, then who was the one sending the prior charter bills?  Last winter, David Blowman and Karen Field-Rogers switched places at the Delaware Dept. of Education.  Blowman used to be the Deputy Secretary of Education.  Field-Rogers was the Assistant Deputy.  Which means she was the one sending the charter bills to the districts all those years.  Or at the very least, signing off on them.  I’m sure I could go back years and years on this, all the way back to 2008 which seems to be this critical flashpoint for the charters.  I’m sure there were others.  Under that theory, if Christina submitted exclusions to the DOE and the DOE signed off on them, the case against Christina is gone.  This is all on the DOE, not Christina.  Legally, it doesn’t matter if the DOE should or shouldn’t have approved those exclusions, the simple fact remains that they did.

Here is another one.  Godowsky didn’t know about this until after the charter bills went out.  So why is Godowsky named in the lawsuit?  He inherited another DOE employee’s mess.  But Godowsky’s job, as per Delaware law, is to either change the formula or have it remain the same, by September 1st of each year.  The local funding formula did not change.  Because e=mc² no matter what the variables are in each part.  So Godowsky didn’t change the formula after September 1st, he changed the amount based on the already existing formula which he didn’t even know about until after it was done to begin with.  There is a huge difference.  I know, I’m defending the Delaware Secretary of Education here, but I do believe in fairness.

But here is the kicker.  If the charters win, they stand to get a bucketload of money, right?  Which would cause Christina to most likely seek another referendum.  Which would give the charters even more money based on the court-approved decision with the exclusions.  But if Christina lost that referendum, the charters would get less money the next year (like what happened to them this year based on the 2015 failed referenda).  Or, if they put Christina into such a financial pickle the State of Delaware had to bail them out, they would then be relying on getting funding from the same entity they sued.  But if the Christina School District went bankrupt, and the state took them over or converted the whole district to charter schools, and the state only gives so much to each district or charter, what would happen to the 15 charters share of local funding if the local district isn’t there anymore?  They would wind up with less money.  Or even better yet, if WEIC goes through and the Christina Wilmington schools convert over to Red Clay before this goes to court, would they then have to include Red Clay in the suit even though Red Clay’s local funding to charters is different?  I don’t think they thought this through long-term.  I can’t believe the “charter school Don” as Kilroy puts it even took this case.

If their “smoking gun” is what I think it is…good luck with that one 15 charters!  Meanwhile, the wheels on the bus go round and round…