Questions About Due Process Surround AI duPont Basketball Team Suspension

A group of parents demanded answers today from Red Clay Consolidated School District officials regarding the suspension of the basketball team from their last game and the playoffs.  As I wrote yesterday, the team was suspended when they got off their bench at the end of a game after they were told not to.  Allegations of racial slurs have been central to this matter but neither Red Clay or Delaware Military Academy have said anything in an official capacity that these epithets came out despite numerous witnesses coming forward on Facebook, comments on Delaware Online, and witnesses that have come forward to Red Clay officials.  Now those parents are demanding the suspension decision be rescinded based on what they are perceiving to be a lack of due process based on policies within Red Clay.  The following letter was sent to the district today.  As well, Red Clay board member Adriana Bohm asked the district to rescind their decision.

**Updated, 4:25pm: According to The News Journal, the district may reconsider the team’s suspension for their remaining game and the playoffs.  Still no response from Commandant Pullella at Delaware Military Academy.

https://www.scribd.com/document/340126552/Appeal

Delaware Racism: It Is Reality And It Is Not Going Away

Racism in Delaware is very real. We saw it clearly with the situation at a Delaware Military Academy basketball game.  Alleged racial slurs were yelled out by DMA students.  When the A.I. Dupont High School basketball team was told to stay in their chairs after the game, members went to go towards the seats where they heard the horrible words.  No adult will come forward about this and use honor instead of protecting their charter school.  Why?

Racism is rampant in Delaware.  Our media, especially The News Journal, does not do enough to curb this.  Every time they post any article about issues that could possibly involve race, the hatred pours out in their comments.  Perhaps they remove these but they have no filters whatsoever to prevent words like nigger being thrown out there.  Don’t believe me?  Check out this comment from their poll last night about the DMA/AI incident:

delawareracism

I don’t condone the use of that word by anyone, whether they are black or white.  It is a word from history that signifies a time when black people were owned by white people.  I don’t believe any race or culture should own the word.  It is ugly and full of hatred.  We all bleed the same blood.  We all smile the same smile and we all shed the same tears.  Maybe because I was raised in a home where the value of respecting others was instilled in me at a very early age is the reason I can’t even fathom this kind of hatred.

President Trump, for all his faults, does not bring out this kind of hatred in people.  It is there and always has been.  There are those who may not like the words but fail to do anything about as evidenced by this comment from a DMA parent:

dmaparent

Fear of retaliation.  I’ve heard those words so many times to justify bad decisions in others.  If you find those words unacceptable then do the right thing and speak up.  What kind of message are you sending your child?  That it is okay for others to say things that are unacceptable in today’s society?  That adults can act just as bad as kids which further perpetuates racism?  Speak up parent!  By hiding things and covering them up, you are teaching your own child that it is okay for these things to happen.  It is not okay.  It is not right.  Your job as a parent is to prepare your child for adulthood and instill in them a sense of right and wrong.  We all want to protect our children, I get that.  But if doing it has a cost that could make anyone think certain things are okay are you really doing your job as a parent?  If administrators allow this to continue, what does that say about the school you chose to send your child to?  Taking away a senior night, which is the first I’ve heard of any punishment for DMA students, is not enough.  If this indeed happened, that would indicate wrong-doing on the DMA team and cheerleaders.  If no racial slurs were thrown out, why a punishment at all?

Schools like Delaware Military Academy, Charter School of Wilmington, and Newark Charter School all have very low African-American populations compared to the schools around them.  Some have even suggested they allow this culture of racism to continue so they get more white students.  This furthers segregation in Delaware, especially around Wilmington.  If these charters truly cared about diversity, they would do something about it.  Instead, we get long drawn-out essays, significant expenses surrounding school uniforms and sports, and specific interests that dissuade low-income families and minorities from even applying.  Despite the many who have called them out on this, our General Assembly turns a blind eye to this and allows this to continue.  Despite federal guidance suggesting any specific enrollment should be designed to let students with the highest needs in.

Did the A.I. DuPont H.S. coach do the right thing?  Many have suggested he did.  By suspending the team for the rest of the season he sent a message that despite what others say reacting to it can only make the situation worse.  But what about those players who are being called one of the most vile words in existence?  The News Journal wrote an editorial and said the coach made the right decision.  However, they did not mention one word about the alleged racial slurs.  To me, that word is meant to strip away the humanity from a person and make them feel like less then a human being.  Even though the above comment no longer appears in the comments of a poll they put up last night they allowed it to go up.  Even by putting a poll up to see if the coach did the right thing without all the information conveyed to those answering the poll, they are slanting the issue.

Delaware is an odd state.  We are a state between the south and the north.  One only needs to look at the riots in Wilmington in the 1960s to see Delaware’s history with race issues.  We still struggle with this in the present.  Generations of hatred against black people still exist to this very day.  But no one wants to really bring it out in the open.  Those of us who try are chastised and told to shut up.  That we have no idea what we are talking about.  But it continues, every day.  Every time we allow any institution to further issues of race, we are allowing the problem to continue.  Any time we allow a school, a building of education, to not have student populations that match the local area, we are letting it happen.

The charter schools I mentioned were a cure for not-so-wealthy parents of white students who couldn’t afford to send their kids to private schools.  They didn’t want their kids in “those” schools so some of our legislators created the perfect situation: schools with predominant white populations and barriers that effectively prevented “those” kids from even getting into that system.  And many parents rushed towards the opportunity.  Attack one of those charters and the parents will come out in full force to defend the school with a “How dare you” attitude.  They will defend these institutions that further discrimination at the cost of their own souls.  They don’t even see they are doing it.

Any person who makes themselves better than another with words designed to hurt someone based on race, gender, disability, age, or social status is discriminatory.  They are racist.  They are advancing their old-world vision on present-day society.  Anyone who fails to speak out about these things happening is living in a fear basket cuddled up in a blanket called enablement.  You are allowing this to continue.  You are just as bad.  If your child was given a hard time at school would you not speak up for them?  Most of us would.  We wouldn’t worry about fear of retaliation because it is the right thing to speak up for your child and advocate for them when they are unable to.  So why would you not speak up when you see your child’s environment is hostile and ugly?  That can be just as damaging as any situation where someone comes after your child.  You are failing as a parent when you don’t speak up about injustice.  If we all did that when we should, there wouldn’t be so much injustice.  It would send a clear message that this will not be tolerated.  It is unacceptable.  We will not be a victim to your cruel words and hatred.

Children are the most susceptible and vulnerable population in this country.  They absorb what is around them.  If parents show racism as issues at the dinner table or use words to describe people that are not good, kids pick up on it and at a very early age.  It becomes part of their personality.  It goes both ways with race.  Putting down the white man in front of your kids can elicit the same behaviors in kids.  I go back to “Remember The Titans”.  If it really went down that way, I don’t know.  It had to have been “Disneyfied” to some degree.  But the message is clear: when we band together we are all one.

I am not afraid to speak out.  I will not stop defending the rights of any human being on this planet.  And you can throw all the stones in the world at me but I will not let your cowardice stop me.  This is why I loathe the use of high-stakes standardized testing in schools.  It is just another system that puts up divides instead of unity.  Far too many parents say “I don’t want my kid going to that school.  Look at their test scores”.  And they cycle continues.  For the Delaware racists, you know who you are.  You know what you harbor in your innermost thoughts.  You may think you are right.  You may go to church on Sundays and count your blessings.  You may believe you have the might of angels behind your beliefs.  But what you lack in humility and grace takes all of that away.  As for media like The News Journal, telling half a story isn’t addressing any issue.  Covering up things that went down and hiding behind “accounts on social media” as if that whitewashes what really went down is not journalism.  It is cowardice.

Almost a day since I broke this story, DMA Commandant Anthony Pullella has not responded to my request for information about this incident.  I can’t say I’m surprised.  Many charter schools like to live in their own bubble and want to ignore the outside world.  As if they are the beacon of society and can do no wrong.  Why shouldn’t they think that?  Our own state government has allowed them to thrive in that belief.  Our legislators can sit in their legislative chambers and condemn actions that took place 150 years ago but when the time comes for them to address the true issues that are perpetuating racism, discrimination, and segregation in our state, far too many of them do nothing.  Especially when it comes to education.  There are those who will fight on these issues, reps like Kim Williams, John Kowalko, and others.  But they do not hold the majority.  All too often, bills are saturated with words that eventually continue Delaware’s backwards slide into racism.  Some don’t even realize this at the time.  Critics of issues involving racism and discrimination are all too often marginalized in this state.  Our issues become back burner because money and power have the influence in Dover, not what is right.  It becomes politics, not morality and doing what is right.

Unless you have been spoken down to like you are less than you are as much as African-Americans have in our very racist state, how can you effectively say you are right?  Have you ever walked in the shoes of someone who has been demeaned and humiliated?  If the answer is no, then kindly shut up.  We don’t want your hatred spewing out of your mouth.  I will never condone violence as a response to hatred.  It does nothing except make the situation worse.  But to point out the potential of violence without addressing why it got to that point is highly irresponsible.

 

 

Racial Slurs Appear To Go Unpunished For DE Military Academy While A.I. DuPont Basketball Team Suspended Rest Of Season

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:

Merv,

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.

Thanks, 

Kevin Ohlandt

Dr. Daugherty’s Response:

Kevin,

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. 

Respectfully,

Merv

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.

Special Education Statistics Part II: Red Clay and Charters Vs Publics #netde #edude @ed_in_de @KilroysDelaware @destateboarded @dedeptofed

So after I did my grades on all the schools for the percentage of the student populations that are special needs, I noticed some alarming trends, especially in Newcastle County in Delaware.  This county has the bulk of the charter schools in this state, and some of the lowest special education populations in the state.

Red Clay Consolidated School District is a very unique school district in this state.  Included in the district are the charter schools that reside within.  Of course, I have to start with my most talked-about charter school, the good old Charter School of Wilmington.  With their underwhelming .6% special ed population.  I know, it’s a “smart” school, with an application process that probably makes Yale or Harvard look easy.  But, many special needs students are smart, some are brilliant.  They just need to be fully accommodated to reach that potential.  I don’t think CSW wants to give that kind of attention to itself.  Or to special needs students.  So what would happen if CSW all of a sudden came to their senses and started accepting a lot more special needs students.  Does that mean other schools would actually drop in special ed?  Schools like A.I. Dupont High School (17.1%), Dickinson (17.5%) or McKean (20.2%)?  We can’t put that much weight on CSW.  So let’s take a look at the other charter schools in the area.  Delaware Military Academy has a 2.8% population for special ed and Delaware College Prep lands at 4.1%.  Delaware College Prep is an elementary school, so we can’t compare that to other high schools.  But to be fair, let’s include Conrad School Of Science (2.9%) and Calloway School of the Arts (2.5%).  These are all the high schools in Red Clay Consolidated.  So what conclusions can be drawn from this?  The bulk of special needs children are served at the public high schools.  There are no charter elementary schools in Red Clay Consolidated.  Why is that?  Would it be too difficult to filter the “good” and the “potential trouble spot” students?  Let’s not forget, the state average is 13.5%.  So the public schools get the majority of the special ed students, thus bearing more of the financial cost through needs based funding.

To accurately see this reality, we would need to look at each school’s federal funding.  Unfortunately none of the schools give a breakdown between the subgroups that fall under federal funding.  The IDEA-B funding that schools receives are what covers special education in schools.  If anyone can provide this information, I would love to see it.

All federal funding for any type of public school in Delaware falls under Title I (for students listed as poverty) and IDEA-B (all special education funds).  Any school district should separate the two in their financial statements.  Charter School of Wilmington does not.  So it is impossible to find out how much they get for IDEA-B funding based on their total actual revenue from federal funding of $83,412.  The same can be said of Delaware Military Academy.  No breakdown on their federal funds, but they did receive a total of $156,301.96, almost twice as much as CSW.  Red Clay does not give an exact breakdown of their federal IDEA-B funding either, but they do give a breakdown of the special education units that falls under needs based funding, so I would have to calculate what that amount comes to.  I will do that and then I will  update this article.  Or again, if anyone wants to provide that information I would be happy to accept it!

The bottom line is a huge enrollment preference that is disproportionately unfair to Red Clay’s public schools. School choice allows parents to switch their children to different schools.  But when the charter schools ask for IEP/Special Education info on the applications, some parents may view this as a positive when the reality is a game.  The charter schools frequently use this information to weed out the undesirables.  So much so that a bill was introduced today by House Rep Darryl Scott to prevent this very sort of event from happening.