When people think of the Charter School of Wilmington, they think about one of the highest-rated high schools in the state. But beneath the shiny veneer, there is a very dark undertone that is pervasive throughout the school. This became clear to a student who I will call Bill (to protect his identity), and his mother, Michelle (also protecting her identity). Bill’s story is the part about Charter School of Wilmington nobody from the school will admit or own up to: a culture of superiority and class, with very few minorities other than Asians. The very few minorities that are present at the school are few and far between compared to most Delaware schools. For Bill, what happened to him could easily be seen as racial or even class profiling, or both.
Charter School of Wilmington has the following profiles for race: 63.7% White, 26.4% Asian, 6% African-American, 3.3% Hispanic/Latino, .4% American Indian and .3% Hawaiian. For special education they have .2% of their students with an IEP, and no Early Language Learners in attendance. In 2013-2014, no student was held back. For those reading this, if you are not familiar with Wilmington, Delaware, it is a city with racial demographics as follows: 58% African-American, 32% White, 12% Hispanic/Latino, Below 1% for Asian, and Below 1% for Hawaiian. So how does a charter school in Wilmington have such a vast difference in student populations compared to the population of the largest city in Delaware?
While some may call it cherry-picking, others call it enrollment preference, and with CSW, they add the extra layer of “specific interest” for their rigorous academic curriculum. The school was named in an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against the local school district, Red Clay Consolidated School District, along with the Delaware Department of Education.
Bill belongs to one of the above minorities at CSW. But you wouldn’t know it to look at him. According to his mother Michelle, Bill looks as white as most of the students at the school. What sets him apart is the fact that “he doesn’t fit the mold of the typical CSW student.” He does not come from an affluent family, he lives downstate, he doesn’t comb his hair to the side, he drives a pick-up truck, and he doesn’t dress like his peers. Michelle describes Bill as a young man who is very mechanical and always ready to fix something. Bill is, however, a brilliant young man with a 3.2 grade point average, and he was already accepted to one of the state universities with a scholarship. Bill’s mother also gave permission for me to tell Bill’s story.
On March 26th, 2015, everything changed for Bill. What happened after to Bill was a denial of procedural due process and discrimination. Bill’s mother received a call from the school that afternoon at 2:28 pm to pick up Bill. This is Michelle’s accounting of what happened: