As a protest is forthcoming tomorrow in front of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church due to the termination of the much-loved and respected Head of School Cindy Mann at Padua Academy, the Board of Trustees for the school sent out a letter today regarding their opinion of the firing. They do NOT agree with Father Nicholas Waseline’s decision yesterday.
The controversial decision, based on the firing of Mann because she would not allow Father Waseline to dip into the Padua Academy coffers, has caused a tremendous outcry from students, alumni, teachers, and even the former Head of School.
In a February news bulletin from their website, Father Waseline talks about his plan to pillage Padua’s finances to boost the parish. But what he has done is alienate parishioners, some of whom have sworn to stop giving to the parish until Mann is reinstated:
Excellence in education is recognized as a current and ongoing reality at Padua Academy. It is, without doubt, one of the best secondary schools in the region. Padua Academy retains its identity as a Parish School, even though 97% of the students who attend, and their families, are not parishioners of St. Anthony of Padua Parish. The school is well-positioned for success – it is professionally managed, financially viable and maintains an admissions waiting list. Most of the Academy graduates attend the best colleges and universities in the country and beyond. We are grateful for Padua Academy’s accomplishments and outstanding reputation. The financial corollary of the fact that only 3% of Padua’s students are parishioners is that virtually no financial support from a majority of student families flows to the parish in terms of offertory contributions. When the significant number of Padua students were parishioners, their families were regular financial contributors to the parish. With the current demographics of today’s Padua students and families in mind, the parish has determined that a “Stewardship Assessment” of Padua revenue will be established to restore the offertory income no longer available to the parish and reconcile the value of the Padua campus within the parish portfolio of assets.
I filed a Freedom of Information Act complaint against DelTech Community College on May 10th, 2017. The Delaware Department of Justice issued their legal opinion on the FOIA complaint today. They found that DelTech violated open meeting law with their College Educational Foundation and The Collegewide Criminal Justice Advisory Board.
First, the Attorney General had to determine if these two entities are public bodies. They found both are. Especially noteworthy is their Foundation. Because their Foundation consists of seven members from the college’s Board of Trustees, and four board members represents a quorum, they are a public body that must make their meetings public and produce minutes from each meeting.
…any gathering of the Foundation that includes a quorum of the Board of Trustees, and during which public business is discussed, is considered a meeting of the Board of Trustees to which FOIA’s open meeting requirements are applicable.
I did name other groups at the school, specifically their Collegewide Safety/Security Committee, Ad Hoc President’s Council, President’s Council, and Learning Community Collegewide Steering Committee. Because those groups are made up of staff members, they are not considered a public body thus they are immune to open meeting law.
It’s hard sometimes to win these things. There are ambiguities in state code that can turn a predicted victory into a moment of defeat. But I was very pleased with the outcome of this one and what it means for other such entities floating around Delaware. Time to do some reaching out to other various foundations in the state. For those who think this might apply to Delaware State University or University of Delaware, think again. They are exempt from FOIA law in Delaware.
To read the full legal opinion issued by Deputy Attorney General Carla Jarosz, please read below:
Several Newark, Delaware legislators submitted a Freedom of Information Act to the Delaware Attorney General’s office last Spring. The response to the complaint came out today.
State Representatives Paul Baumbach, John Kowalko, and Ed Osienski, and State Senators Karen Peterson, David Sokola and Bryan Townsend felt the University of Delaware violated FOIA with the posting of an agenda about a change to their bylaws. The Attorney General’s response opined the Board of Trustees at the University did violate FOIA by not posting a specific resolution they would be voting on in the agenda. The AG’s office stated even if the public had some knowledge of what could be happening it still falls on a public board to give notice of the proposed action item on an agenda.
As a result of the FOIA complaint, the University Board of Trustees will vote again on the bylaws at their December board meeting. The AG opinion wants the board to have an open and public discussion surrounding this vote.
I have been hard on Sokola in the past, for what I believe are good reasons. I wish he would demand the same transparency from charter schools. Have you ever seen some of their board agendas? I hardly ever see any action items on them even though they constantly vote on items.