Ashley Sabo Wins Red Clay School Board Election! Congrats Ashley!

With modest voter turnout, Ashley Sabo defeated Henry Clampitt and Thomas Pappenhagen for the District C Board Seat.  Unofficial results gave Sabo 1,142 votes, Clampitt 833 votes, and Pappenhagen 152 votes.  I got to hang out at a couple of schools tonight and saw both Sabo and Clampitt.  They were both greeting the candidates.  More districts will be announced shortly.

Exceptional Delaware Proudly Endorses Ashley Sabo For Red Clay School Board

I’ve been a fan of Ashley Sabo going on a year and a half now.  Oddly enough, I first “met” her through a Rodel-Vision conference on Twitter!  Life is funny like that.  But Sabo represents the very best of what a school board member can offer.  She is a compassionate mom and wife, very involved with the community, attends most of the Red Clay board meetings and has for a very long time, gives public comment, is a CASA officer in Delaware (helping out kids in foster parent situations), was very involved in Red Clay’s inclusion policy, and fully supports the most fundamental and crucial of parental rights when it comes to education.

I’ve met and spoken with Sabo many times and she is one of those who just gets it.  She understands that far too many of the bad education policy in Delaware, as well as America, is not good for students.  I wish I lived in Red Clay so I could vote for her, but I strongly encourage all Red Clay Consolidated School District citizens to vote for Sabo on May 9th.

The Red Clay Education Association voted to endorse Sabo for Red Clay’s Board of Education in the upcoming election.  As the largest school district in the state, this is a huge endorsement for Sabo!

Some of the posts on her Facebook candidate page clearly illustrate why she should get your vote in Red Clay!

A year ago I made public comment at the board meeting about the need for more play and hands on learning in kindergarten. I still firmly believe kids, and not just kindergarteners, benefit from LESS rigor – fewer worksheets, less time at their desk – and MORE active learning – greater time using play to learn, more hands on activities. We need to help instil the LOVE of learning in kids!

For the past 3 years I have attended the majority of board meetings, making public comment when issues arose that needed to be addressed. I have attended countless committee meetings working tirelessly to ensure that decisions the district makes benefit all students. I have met with teachers on my own time to hear their concerns about different topics.

I am involved as a parent and will be even more involved as an elected board member.

As a parent of a high schooler in general education classes with no supports, an elementary student in a general education classroom with supports and a paraprofessional and a youngster who would love if there were more pre-k programs I have a wide variety of experience in the world of education.

BUT…. I am not a teacher. They are the ones working tirelessly for our children and they are the ones greatly affected by policy changes. I value their experience and knowledge.

I am committed to listening to our educators – making decisions that not only benefit all students but also help teachers spend more time teaching and less time navigating policy changes and paperwork.

I am beyond thankful for the wonderful teachers in my life and my children’s’ lives.

Next week, there will be a “Meet The Candidate Night” at Café Napoli Restaurant and Pizzeria at 4391 Kirkwood Hwy, in Wilmington on Wednesday, March 29th from 7pm to 9pm.

 

Vaya Con Dios Vo-Tech Vicki?

At last month’s New Castle County V0-Tech’s Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Vicki Gehrt wanted to get the ball rolling early on her contract renewal.  Her contract isn’t up for another six months, but apparently she felt the need to bring it up now.  The board wasn’t too keen on that.  Details are scarce, but it wound up with the non-elected board going in and out of executive session throughout the night.  As Gehrt and friends stayed in one room with Gehrt visibly upset.  Scuttlebutt has it that the board is not too enamored with Gehrt, especially after the Amy Joyner-Francis death at Howard High School of Technology as well as other issues.

Ultimately, the board decided to table any talk of Gehrt’s Superintendent renewal until it is actually up for renewal.  But they do have a board meeting tomorrow night.  Will Vo-Tech Vicki bring it up again?  Will there be more drama with unannounced adventures in executive session?  And will the board meeting be heard for all to hear?  Last month, the board was prepping for the House Bill 61 all school boards must record bill which goes into effect in a couple of months.  But no recording was put up on the website.  This is definitely a to be continued story…

In Today’s Game: Can You Spot The FOIA Violation?

Gateway Lab School, a Delaware charter school that serves a very high population of students with disabilities, held a special board meeting on April 4th, 2016.  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss a due process mediation.  Can you spot the Delaware FOIA violation?  It’s easy if you try!

Oops! That’s a big one! I’ve already filed the FOIA complaint to the Attorney General’s office. As a gentle reminder to all school boards in Delaware: you can discuss student related matters in executive session if it pertains to an issue, but you can’t vote on it in executive session. You need to come out of executive session and vote on it then. Now you can’t, and shouldn’t, say this is for x student’s due process mediation situation. But I would suggest giving a number for all action items at a board meeting. Many boards do this already. You can just say, as an example, “In the matter of 16-322, may I have a motion to vote on this action item?”, or something along those lines. It wasn’t that long ago that Brandywine School District’s board had the same issue which is causing issues for the district now as part of a lawsuit.

As well, I have also requested an opinion from the same office about public comment at public meetings. I have noticed some Delaware charter schools ask public comment to be submitted up to two weeks in advance before a board meeting. I don’t think that is in the spirit of the law. Any member of the public should have unfettered access to a public meeting and have the ability to give public comment without having to give advance notice.

Sorry Gateway! Don’t mean to call you out but if all of your board members have not received the full training on these matters I would definitely get on that!

Interesting Agenda For The Next Christina Board Meeting… **UPDATED**

On September 8th, the Christina School District Board of Education has their next regular public meeting and the agenda released looks mighty interesting.  There are two policy statement proposals up for first reading that look to address issues on the actual Board.

5. Board Policy Manual: Proposed Revision Policy Section #01.07–Policy Statement on Board Meetings–First Read

6. Board Policy Manual: Proposed New Policy Section #01.18–Policy Statement on the Responsibilities of Members of the Board–First Read

To say there have been issues on this board would be an understatement.  But are these potential policies designed to correct those issues or to single out members individually through policy?  As Christina struggles to meet a budget deficit, other items include potential actions to mitigate those losses.  As well, the board could vote on a new opt-out policy for the district which had a first reading at the regular August board meeting. Also on the agenda is an item about an acting superintendent…

UPDATED, 10:50am, 9/1/15: I have heard the two policies concerning the board are by two different members: President Harrie Ellen Minnehan and Board Member John Young (also the Transparent Christina blogger). This will be very interesting indeed!

Budget Projections Place Christina In Jeopardy In A Year If Current Trends Continue

The true financial impact at Christina School District was revealed for all last night, and the most troublesome of these numbers was the bleeding out of students from Christina to charters.  It is a requirement that any district in Delaware be able to meet the first month’s payroll prior to the school year starting, and CFO Bob Silba announced this may not be a possibility in a year’s time.  Board member John Young commented that the district needs to face the reality they could be down from three high schools to two in a couple years.  Projected numbers show over 900 students leaving Christina but their Title I funding basically remains the same and their IDEA funding which comes from students with disabilities will actually go up.

This shows the students leaving the district are not necessarily those in most need: low-income and special needs.  As Christina hemorrhages students, they are left with financial numbers that are in dire straits.  School resource officers are being spread out among schools instead of one located at each, extra pay for extra responsibilities (EPER) has been drastically reduced, and classroom materials has been reduced by over 50%.

Discussion surrounding an interim superintenedent was chaotic at best, with Board President Harrie Ellen Minnehan starting the meeting with a very long monologue about how the board was unified, but the meeting showed they are anything but.  Minnehan referred to herself as “I” several times, much to the chagrin of other board members who felt out of the loop.  As the meeting stretched into the wee hours of the morning today, several board members actually left the board table for long stretches.  Minnehan, unsure of what the board had just voted for, actually said at one point “I guess we just passed a motion.”

Apparently, even public comment was in disarray with Minnehan cutting off a speaker and having the microphone turned off after the 3:00 minute mark for another.  Challenges of board policy went back and forth between Minnehan, Young and George Evans.  This board needs to unify once and for all before it is too late.  This district will be gone in two years time unless they are able to retain students and increase enrollment.

There was much discussion about the district’s  agreement with the Office of Civil Rights over discipline of minorities, which is now two years running.  From the agreement, the district has to have a vendor to oversee it, but the board was very concerned about the costs associated with this and the revelation that the main staff member who was overseeing much of this was placed in a different school.

Current Superintendent Dr. Freeman Williams, who announced he was going on personal leave last week, will be out at least another 11 weeks.  Prior to the meeting, rumors circulated that former Red Clay Consolidated School District Bob Andrzejewski would be appointed interim Superintendent, but members of the board felt they should not rush into a rash decision.  Discussion around qualifications of principals within the district and timing of the temporary hire took center stage.  The board will meet in a special meeting on August 20th to go over the qualifications and will plan from there.

A proposed board policy on parent opt-out passed it’s first read with six “yeas” and one abstention (George Evans, who was the sole no vote on the board’s opt-out resolution earlier in the year).

Christina School District Board of Education President Minnehan Has No Knowledge Of Audit

Within the past ten minutes I also received the below email from Christina Board of Education President Harrie Ellen Minnehan regarding the suspicion of an audit with the Delaware State Auditor’s office.  Once again, there is NO audit taking place based on the article I put up a few minutes ago, but there was DEFINITELY a phone call made to the State Auditor’s office by two board members.  This gets more interesting by the minute!

To
  • Kevin Ohlandt
Kevin,

I have just returned home within the past 20 minutes after being out all day which is why I did not respond to this email earlier, so your time ultimatum was missed.  (I cannot always retrieve Outlook /Christina email on my phone so I don’t bother with it.)

I have no information (of the real/authentic or of the dangerous rumor type) about an audit.  Have not heard anything at all about that and I assume if it were legitimate  we would have been apprised.

Harrie Ellen

Two Christina School Board Members Going Rogue & Making Decisions Affecting The District WITHOUT Notifying The Rest of the Board

This story is gaining traction as the day goes on.  Apparently, two Christina board members made a HUGE decision two months ago without notifying the other members of the board.  While this HUGE decision is not illegal, unless they put it in writing under authority of the board, which I don’t think they did, and because it is not a quorum, it still shows a complete lack of protocol in a school board.  This is something that will affect the district for a LONG time.

It is obvious there are major issues going on, not only with the district, but also it’s Board of Education.  One of these board members has been known to cause issues in the past with transparency to other board members.  Power is a very addictive thing, and those who abuse it should be held responsible and all actions should be brought to light.  Especially when it involves the largest school district in the state.

This is a board of seven, not one, or two, trying to curry favor with elected officials, State Departments, and local business interests.  They need to remember what they are there for, to look out for the best interests of the district, which in essence, means the students of the district.  None of the two board member’s recent actions seem to be for the betterment of students and the stability of the district.  Especially since what they did happened almost two months ago and no one else knew about it…until now…

Capital School District Board of Education Chooses A New Superintendent

Late in the evening, the Capital School District Board of Education went into executive session to discuss the last item on their agenda, the selection of a new superintendent to replace Dr. Michael Thomas who will resign effect June 30th.  The board was in this executive session for 45 minutes.

When they came out, board member John Martin stated he was unequivocally against the choice selected.  He felt Capital had a bold opportunity here and suggested they go back to the drawing board and repost the position.  The motion was introduced and brought to a vote.  Martin voted no, “emphatically”, and members Kay Dietz-Sass, Matt Lindell and Sean Christiansen all voted yes.  The new Superintendent of Capital School District is… Candidate #216.  The official name will be revealed tomorrow afternoon according to Lindell.  They have to notify the other candidates first…