The Music Shuffle: Through The Years

I haven’t done one of these in a while.  I spent the better part of tonight writing this.  I hit some tough topics on this one.  A way to purge and look back on my life and remember.  Memories, good and bad, they are what make us who we are. Continue reading

The People Of Delaware Demand Justice Be Served On Patrick Miller!

Enough is enough already.  This guy has been walking around since the 1990s with fraud and abuse of taxpayer funds in his rearview mirror as he walks around like he is the Al Capone of Delaware.  If the Delaware Attorney General’s office won’t act, the people will force them to!

Please sign the Change.org petition at the below link.  I was really hoping Attorney General Matt Denn would take significant action against Patrick Miller but he failed, plain and simple.  Now it is incumbent on incoming Attorney General Kathleen Jennings to reopen the investigations into Patrick Miller, not only at the Indian River School District but also the Indian River Volunteer Fire Company.

Change.org Petition: The People Demand A Full Investigation Into Patrick Miller!

The Hidden Secrets Behind Providence Creek Academy’s Bomb Threat & Audit Investigation

It seems random events are not so random at Providence Creek Academy, the charter school in Clayton, DE. It now appears that the audit investigation into suspected fraud by a former employee was missing a lot of information. Two other employees were also taking funds meant for students for their own personal use. Head of School Charles “Chuck” Taylor covered it all up. Continue reading

Christina, Are You Out Of Your Flipping Mind? You Are Begging For Trouble With This One!

For the most part, staffers who allegedly assaulted students have faced no criminal charges or internal discipline; some have even been promoted.

…illustrates the risk that for-profit schools, which are favored by the Trump administration and new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, may put earnings ahead of student welfare.

“That place was like a prison,” he said. Continue reading

Why Does Our State Auditor Only Find Things Like The Sussex Tech Fraud From Tips? Are There More Sussex Tech Situations We Don’t Know About?

Boom! Jack Wells sent one hell of an email to Delaware State Auditor Tom Wagner today.  This is one for the record books and opens up a whole new ballpark on the question of financial oversight of our school districts and charter schools!

TO: Mr. Thomas Wagner, Auditor of Accounts

This report reveals numerous problems that were “only” revealed because the Office of Auditor of Accounts {AOA} received an anonymous complaint on 1 July 2014. 

While I am concerned about the findings, I am even more troubled why these findings were not identified in the State of Delaware Statewide School Districts’ Construction Projects Attestation Engagements conducted in fiscal years 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.  

Question: Since these reports did not reveal the problems identified in the report conducted by your auditors as a result of an anonymous complaint, can you inform me the purpose of these engagements/examinations?

Comment: Some findings were revealed, however the report ending June 30,2015 states: “Our examination disclosed no instances of noncompliance or other matters that are required to be reported under Government Auditing Standards. Hopefully your answer to my question will disclose what must be reported under Government Auditing Standards.

While I am troubled by these findings, I have to wonder if these findings and others problems are not being revealed by the engagements/examinations that are being conducted each year. Provided below are the number of districts that are audited each fiscal year.

Fiscal Year     # of  School Districts  Audited

2012                   18

2013                   17

2014                   18

2015                   18

2016                   16

I have to wonder if the findings on Sussex Technical are only the tip of an iceberg.

Finally and even more troubling is the fact that audits required by law to verify expenditures of $2.3 billion annually for the education of our children were legal and used for the purpose provided are not conducted.

Amen Jack!  I am dying for these questions to be heard.  But I fear we will only hear the empty vacuum of space on this.

A Delaware Citizen Hits The Bullseye With The Scandal At The State Auditor’s Office

I’ve mentioned Jack Wells a lot in the past few weeks.  He is a good guy.  He has some very strong opinions about the mandated “leave” of Kathleen Davies, imposed by Delaware State Auditor Tom Wagner.  We all do these days.  I have yet to hear anyone say “Wagner did the right thing”.  It just reeks of corruption!  But enough babbling, let’s hear it from the good Jack!

During the last 6 years the Auditor of Accounts has expended $29,500.27 for Lodg-Hotl-Out of State, of this amount Kathleen Davis expended $1,953.01 or $325.50 a year.  Three other employees expended $1,262,55, the Delaware Online Checkbook does not identify the employees who expended the other $26,284.71.

 

The article that appeared in yesterday’s News Journal did not reveal what Kathleen Davis did wrong, it did not contain the above facts nor did the article identify;

a.       Who approved Kathleen Davis travel.

b.       Who approved Kathleen Davis request for reimbursement that have to be supported by invoices/hotel bills.

 

Hopefully The News Journal will, in a very short time write a follow-up that provides the answers to the above questions and  informs the readers if funds were misused.  I would think since two months had passed since she was placed on leave, this could have been determined before the information was released to the News Journal. 

 

The article stated that using the P Card provided more oversight, however when I checked the P Card for this category of expense, it identified the hotel not the individuals.  {Marriott, Chicago received $893.96. FY2016}

 

http://checkbook.delaware.gov/catDetails.aspx?Dept_Name=AUDITOR%20OF%20ACCOUNTS&Spend_Cat=LODG-HOTL,%20MOTL%20OUT-STATE&Fis_Q=FY%202016&Div_Name=AUDITOR%20OF%20ACCOUNTS

 

Over the last several years under Kathleen Davis supervision detail reports have been written on fraud, waste and abuse.  The Performance Reviews on Entitlements reveal big problems, as have audits on the used of Petty Cash in some of our Charter Schools.  The report on DDOE procedures on verification of student enrollment by category revealed a major problem, that DDOE made no effort to verify funds were being used for the purpose they were provided.  The report also revealed DDOE requested Auditor of Accounts conduct a review to verify funds were used for the purpose provided, but AOA refused. {This report was rescinded by AOA, no reason have been provided.}

I find it unacceptable that hundreds of hours are devoted to verify the state is not providing more funding to our children than they earn, while both AOA and DDOE provide NO oversight to verify the expenditure of these funds are legal and used for the purpose the funds are provided. 

 

While I support audits on travel and use of petty cash to reduce fraud, waste and abuse, I find it obscene NO oversight is being provided on the expenditure of 2.4 billion annually the public has provided for the education of our children.  Clearly the lack of oversight on $2.4 billion annually provides opportunities for fraud, waste and abuse, and based on the findings in audit reports conducted under the supervision of Kathleen Davis on the used of credit cards, it is clear we have fraud, waste and abuse. Last year our children with special needs represented 14% of our enrollment, however these children earned 33% of Div. I Regular and Special Education Units and many other units.  Are we sure all this funding is used for the purpose the funds were provided? 

 

Jack Wells

Well said Jack, well said!

Attorney General Matt Denn, We Need You To Do More About Bullying & Abuse In Our Schools

Skyline Middle School.  Anne Gullo.  The Appoquinimink Bus Driver.  Delaware Met.  This is just in the last month.  As these incidents of bullying and abuse become more public, I haven’t seen any official statement from those in power in Delaware on these systemic issues going on.  This is the bottom line: students don’t feel safe.  While the DOE wants to bury students in their latest programs with the University of Delaware about social skills and positive behavior supports, which are also costing the state millions of dollars, the districts or charters don’t implement those things and it is a colossal waste.  They talk the talk and walk the walk, but who are we kidding?  Why are we seeing adults take out their frustrations on kids?

NBC Philadelphia covered the Appoquinimink bus driver.  The district said she wouldn’t be driving their kids anymore.  That’s great.  But more needs to be done.  This kid was being bullied, and he needed help.  Instead of the bus driver, or substitute bus driver (immaterial to me, still an adult in charge of kids) even noticing there was already a situation going on where a kid was getting hurt, she did nothing.  She finally acted, and in a highly inappropriate way, when she was forced to do something as this kid yelled at her for help.  What she did is disgusting and morally reprehensible.

It doesn’t matter if its one person or hundreds.  No kid deserves this.  From other kids or adults.  When I was a kid, we didn’t call it bullying.  We usually called it getting the crap kicked out of you.  There are always going to be reasons for it.  Somebody doesn’t like something the other kid said.  They are jealous over a girl.  A kid is black.  A kid is white.  A kid is gay.  A girl is mean.  A kid has disabilities.  A kid doesn’t believe the same thing another kid does.  Maybe if kids actually enjoyed learning, and were not tied to curriculums tied to standards tied to standardized tests tied to teacher evaluations tied to school report cards, we could put an end to this.  We have more resources than ever before to tackle these issues, but our failure of a Governor ignores these issues.  He assigns people to “serve at the pleasure of the Governor”.  We need to elect leaders and Secretaries who serve at the pleasure of the people!

This is where you come in Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn.  You do not serve at the pleasure of Jack Markell.  You are a publicly elected official.  Prior to your becoming Attorney General, you were the Lieutenant Governor and I watched you chair a very decent IEP Task Force.  I was drawn to you because you spoke succinctly when needed and firm when it was desperately needed.  When you first became Attorney General nine months ago, I saw very positive moves on your part.  The first of which was an Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust, which I have referred many parents to.  I have yet to see any action coming out of this office Matt.  We don’t see any official reports or press releases coming out of there at all.  Has it really come down to Delaware needing a Department of Bullying and Physical Abuse Against Children?

I truly think it is a good thing that parents can take personal action on individual cases in Delaware.  But they are forced to shut up about it in most situations.  That isn’t justice.  It is covering it up.  It is making the bad stuff (for the guilty party) just go away.  Talk to most parents who go through that process, and they would much rather have worked it out with the school earlier.  If there is not a systemic change, nothing will change.  We will see more Skylines, and Appo bus drivers, and Anne Gullos, and Delaware Mets.  We need YOU Matt Denn to become the Attorney General we elected and become a bully against bullying.  We need YOU to take quick action.  We all know schools are underreporting.  We know stuff gets covered up.  We need you to take action when schools don’t.  Since we are becoming a data mad country anyways, why not give parents access to their child’s e-school report.  It’s a digital world now.  When bullying happens, an email goes to parents and they see it.  And I think your office should have access as well.  We need more heroes and less victims Matt.  Kids need YOU to be that hero.  It has to be YOU.

For the citizens of Delaware, we need you to stop with the high-fiving of how great your kid’s school is in certain areas.  We all know what schools are “the best” and we all know why.  Education shouldn’t be a competition, but our Governor has created this environment.  Race To The Top may be over, but don’t think our schools aren’t competing against each other every single day.  It is all about the stupid test scores for them.  You will be seeing them really concentrating on attendance as well because that is going to be another accountability measure for them.  They always seem to do what the DOE wants them to do, but that does not always translate into doing what is best for the students.  As many Delaware parents already know, they will cover their own ass first.  If they are tackling bullying and “social skills” and “positive behavior supports” for the purpose of driving up test scores, they are completely missing the boat.

Parents are going to start organizing as more and more issues become public and transparent.  It is happening already.  And we don’t like a lot of what we are seeing in our schools, the DOE and Governor Markell.  The drums of war are already starting to beat.  We will only be shushed so many times before we start to get really loud.  We will not be disrespected and we will certainly not let our children be disrespected.  We will not be lied to, and we will not be told one thing only to have it change after administrators get together and have a meeting about it.  We are the parents of the students who you want to take meaningless and useless tests.  We are the parents of students with disabilities.  We are the parents of low-income and poverty students.  We are the parents of the bullied and the abused.  We are the parents of those who are punished without due process.  We are the parents of students whose schools think they know about our children than we do.  We are the parents of students who are also taught by parents.  We are the parents of homeschooled kids.  We are the parents who talk to legislators more and more every day.  We are the parents of students who choice out of school districts.  We are the parents of students who were opted out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment and Governor Markell severely disrespected.  We are the parents of youth who are already in prison.  We are the parents of the students who are physically restrained.  We are the parents who raise our children by the standards we believe in not what the state wants us to.  We are the parents who vote.  We are the parents who talk about all of this stuff on social media every single day but give a smile and a nod when you see us and you are none the wiser.  We are the parents of Delaware.

Are There Human Rights Violations Going On At Delaware Met? Parents Need To Speak Up NOW!!!!

I received an anonymous message this morning concerning Delaware Met.  We may be entering a new level of abuse inflicted by this school on their students.  As if everything already happening isn’t bad enough, I am now hearing about issues concerning the school hiring prison guards to “control kids”, multiple suspensions, and issues with confinement.  While these allegations have not been vetted, it follows the alarming trends with this school.  To that effect, I emailed the DOE, Governor Markell, Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn, and some legislators in regards to this.  I also called the Delaware DOE about this and left a message.  I did receive a return call just minutes ago from them and I advised the Charter School Office of the information conveyed to me.  Someone needs to do the right thing and get in there and shut this place down.  There are many students with disabilities in this school and not following, implementing, or creating an IEP for them is a recipe for disaster.  Below is the email I sent out not long ago:

From: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
To:
Nagourney Jennifer <jennifer.nagourney@doe.k12.de.us>; Blowman David (K12) <david.blowman@doe.k12.de.us>; Godowsky Steven <steven.godowsky@doe.k12.de.us>; Markell Jack <jack.markell@state.de.us>; O’Mara Lindsay (Governor) <lindsay.omara@state.de.us>; Denn Matthew (DOJ) <matthew.denn@state.de.us>
Cc:
Williams Kimberly (LegHall) <kimberly.williams@state.de.us>; Kowalko John (LegHall) <john.kowalko@state.de.us>; Baumbach Paul (LegHall) <paul.baumbach@state.de.us>; Sean Matthews <sean.matthews@state.de.us>; Gray Teri (K12) <teri.gray@sbe.k12.de.us>
Sent:
Thursday, October 22, 2015 10:54 AM
Subject:
Delaware Met

Good morning all,
I received an anonymous and very troubling message this morning concerning the Delaware Met.  As I’m sure you all know, this school is under formal review.  But if this message is true, there could be human rights violations going on at this school, in current time.  I know most of us don’t see eye to eye on education policies, but I’m sure we can all agree that no student in Delaware should have any rights violated whatsoever. 
The message I received concerns many of the items already covered in Del Met’s formal review letter, but also issues concerning the hiring of prison guards, multiple suspensions and issues of “confinement”.  The last of these concerns me greatly.  Many of these students may have IEPs and Federal and State law clearly indicates matters of punishment for students with disabilities.  Confinement sounds very serious, and I fear for these students safety. 
I’m not sure who has to get in there, but something needs to be done.  This school is out of control and something beyond a formal review needs to take place immediately if these types of things are going on.
Thank you for your time, and I appreciate any response to this very disturbing situation.
Respectfully,
Kevin Ohlandt
I strongly urge parents of students in this school to go public with what they know.  Do not let this school intimidate you or your child.  If what I am hearing is true, I would highly recommend you do not send your child to this school.  Let the cards fall where they may, but if it is a matter of safety and human rights, please do the right thing for your child.  This is a wake-up call for all of us in Delaware, and I am letting you know I care about your kids.  I have never issued a message like this before, but look out for your kids.  I strongly commend the DOE for doing the right thing with putting this school on formal review, but this has now become a matter beyond them if these events are occurring.  We need to keep our children safe, first and foremost.
Who is actually running this school? Is it Innovative Schools? The Delaware Leadership Executive Director who stated he would farm out the “day-to-day” operations to an intern?  What is going on inside this place?
To that end, parents need to name names and let those with the ability to do something operate out of full transparency so they can get in there.  Schools need to be a safe haven for children, but this sounds more like prison conditions.  I won’t deny there are probably some bad behaviors going on with some teenagers in this school, but if the school is unable to adequately deal with this than the center will not hold.  I heard from another parent of severe bullying going on at this school and the administration not dealing with this properly.  Something needs to be done…NOW!!!!
UPDATED, 12:10pm: This developing situation is being looked at very seriously by the Delaware Department of Education.  As well, I am being told there are two rival gangs within this school and this seems to be the heart of the issues.  Someone is going to get killed in this school if something doesn’t change immediately.  We need all hands on deck here, and parents should be very concerned.  I am begging the school: If you cannot handle this, do not hide.  Don’t think you can wave a magical wand and fix this.  If it is beyond your ability to control, please, just shut it down.  The Delaware Met is not an alternative school.  You do not have the necessary supports to handle those students.  Do the right thing.

Kuumba Academy & Delaware College Prep Leaders Busted In State Auditor’s Report, Thomas Edison & MOT Pass

Delaware State Auditor Thomas Wagner released a report today and Delaware College Prep and Kuumba Academy showed significant discrepancies regarding reimbursement of funds to school leaders.  Thomas Edison Charter School and MOT Charter School, also included in the inspection, came through with flying colors.  For Delaware College Prep, there was a “party loan” over $11,000.00 involving the Board President.  For Kuumba, the Head of School, Assistant Head of School and a custodian were overpaid and the report alleges violations of state code in procuring contracts without any bidding process.

This tells us the seven charters that were under investigation by Wagner’s office.  Family Foundations Academy, Academy of Dover, Providence Creek Academy, Thomas Edison Charter School, MOT Charter School, Delaware College Prep and Kuumba Academy.  I have a sneaky feeling Delaware Met could fit into this category in the future based on events currently happening there.

More to come on this unexpected development.  Congrats to Thomas Edison and MOT for doing the right thing.  Kuumba and Delaware College Prep… there are no words!  To the members of the General Assembly: House Bill 186 needs to pass first thing in January 2016.  The charter financial fraud in our state must pass.  All Delaware Republicans need to open their eyes to this mismanagement and outright theft of state funds and do the right thing.

My Email To Kendall Massett With Delaware Charter Schools Network Over The Scandals & Fraud In Delaware Charter Schools

  • Today at 10:23 PM
To
  • kendallm@decharternetwork.org

Dear Kendall,

I am the writer of Exceptional Delaware, and I would like to know why your organization is objecting to House Bill 186 and other legislation that would provide the essential oversight Delaware charter schools so desperately need.  This isn’t about protecting the finances of these schools, it is about making sure the students in these schools get the best education possible. 

What is occurring in so many of our schools: Academy of Dover, Family Foundations Academy, Providence Creek Academy, Odyssey Charter, Thomas Edison and others is a direct result of financial mismanagement, boards not properly trained in oversight, and allowing administrators to cut the board out of important decisions.  It isn’t the boards that suffer or the admins.  It is the students and teachers. 

If your organization truly represents school choice, then you need to make sure the schools under your purveyance are effectively able to run those schools.  Because we both know the DOE isn’t able to.  You have the backing of millions of dollars and several huge companies, but at the end of the day none of that matters if the charters are involved in all these scandals.  I would ask that you allow transparency to rule the day and that your organization backs House Bill 186 and House Bill 61.  Parents should have choice, but only when everything is crystal clear and out in the open.  It is completely inappropriate for any school to conceal finances or other important matters that can impact children.

I’m sure you don’t like me, and I’m okay with that.  I don’t like a lot of the underhanded tactics I have seen your organization perform, like having parents mass email representatives to block a bill that would actually allow the charters to escape from the financial malfeasances and show why they can be just as good as traditional schools.  I don’t understand the need to protect them, because it always comes out.  If it isn’t me, it will be the next blogger or reporter.  Things are reaching a crisis point with education in Delaware, and serving the will of money over students is not going to help these kids. 

Many people say the entire goal of the education reform movement in the past 10 years has been about the eventual destruction of traditional school districts and the “privatization” of schools, making them all charter or private schools.  I believe this point of view is the goal, but I also know it is a system that will never work.  Because along with that comes the notion of power and people will abuse that.  If you truly want charter schools to survive in our state, than I would strongly consider a different approach.  Because this way, it doesn’t work.  Charters will never take over.  Now it needs to become a matter of co-existence.  The way our schools are funded, with funds coming out of local funds from the traditional school districts does not work.  Fighting for scraps will always cause fighting.  We all need to come up with a better way and stop the fraud, waste and abuse going on in our schools.  For schools that only represent a small percentage of our students, I have never seen such so much chaos and disruption coming from anything in education as I have with the charter school movement.

The next move is yours.  And since I am a firm believer in transparency, I will publish this email.

Thank you,

Kevin Ohlandt