What Is Up With Superintendent Richard Gregg In Christina School District?

Something is up in the Christina School District involving Superintendent Richard Gregg.  The following appears on Board Docs for their next Board of Education meeting on July 10th: Continue reading

DAPSS Qualified Curriculum Director Rips School Leadership In Public Hearing

I heard the Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security Public Hearing the other night was off the hook, but I had no idea!  Today, the Delaware Department of Education Charter School Office released the transcript of the hearing.  Their Curriculum Director, Erica Thomas, went after school leadership over her many attempts to get a better curriculum going in the school but felt she was ultimately stymied in her efforts.

One criticism I received recently was that I am under-qualified to be the Director of Curriculum and Instruction — coming from someone who does not have a degree — a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and experience in various aspects above and beyond that within the educational community — I find this disrespectful because my efforts have been stymied by the lack of educational leadership at the Academy which before I arrived was filled with nepotism and cronyism.

Maybe if the Delaware DOE was paying attention they would have been able to catch that nepotism and cronyism.  It wasn’t exactly a state secret on how bad this school was doing for many years, but the Delaware DOE turned a blind eye until they couldn’t.  But I digress…

I came to this school and stepped up to the challenge to improve things for students. I was told I was going to be given autonomy to create changes. However, through Academy leadership, education best practices were secondary to maintaining personal relationships. Moreover, I was undermined and a culture of distrust and suspicion was created.

As mentioned in her testimony, Thomas came to the school in August of 2016.  This was way after the school had low enrollment and proficiency issues.  Any school turnaround takes time and doesn’t happen overnight.

I came in with a strategic plan implementing LF, Read 180, IXL, many other research-based practices that we’ve put in place, and we will give you in the CSAC rebuttal. I know the Academy is capable of doing a whole lot better than what the achievement scores show, but I was stymied in my implementation of a teaching/learning model through a series of professional development and professional learning communities.

It sounds to me like she was making a valiant effort to improve things.  I’m surprised the school didn’t already have some of these key programs in the school already!

I came to the Academy to raise expectations. I came to the Academy with all of the greatest intentions. I still believe in the school and its mission. The students and staff deserve a whole lot better, but that starts at the very top. It has been made very clear to me that I am not the top. I have taken directives. I have finished tasks and I did as a good soldier would. That’s it.

Wow!  Is that coming from new Board President Margie Lopez-Waite or the vastly under-qualified Head of School Herbert Sheldon?  Or both?  Lopez-Waite comes from the MBNA/Bank of America world.  While she may have performed miracles at Las Americas ASPIRA Academy (or did she just cheerlead the school while others did all the work?), it sounds like she came into DAPSS wanting to run the show.  She may be President of the Board but that does not give her the unilateral ability to do as she pleases.    It sounds like the school tried to make Thomas the sacrificial lamb in this process.  From everything I’ve seen and heard, it sounds like the biggest problem at the school is Sheldon himself!

I find it ironic that someone with an advanced degree in education with extensive knowledge of educational best practices is treated like this but their Head of School basically has a bookkeeping background at East Side Charter School.  It doesn’t seem right.  If charters are to ultimately survive, they need people with deep education backgrounds.  I’m not sure what happened as a result of Thomas’ comments, but she no longer appears on the school website.

Meanwhile, I did receive my FOIA request back from Sheldon.  All he sent was what already appears on the school’s website.  So their huge deficit will have to be discovered another way.

The rest of the Public Hearing is below.  Aside from Thomas’ controversial testimony (which also praised the school), the many public comments were in favor of the school and while many recognized the struggles of the school, it was also urged the State Board of Education keep them open.  Towards the end, the Colonial bomb is dropped by a teacher.  And a big thank you to the excellent transcriptionist at Wilcox & Fetzer who always do a great job with these Public Hearings!

Breaking News: Liz Paige Elected President Of The Christina Board Of Education

With a 4-3 vote, Elizabeth Paige is the new President of the Christina School District Board of Education.  The prior President, Harrie-Ellen Minnehan, received three votes.  Minnehan only held the post for a year.  This is definitely Paving The Way to a New Christina!  Congrats Liz!

With all respect to Ms. Minnehan, I believe Paige will bring a transparency to this board that has never been seen before.  She is a strong voice for this board, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

16 To Watch In 2016: Harrie Ellen Minnehan

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As President of the Christina School District Board of Education, Minnehan is the voice of the board at their meetings.  She holds the gavel!  With recent events concerning priority schools and the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, the Christina Board will be in the spotlight quite a bit in the coming months.  The biggest matter facing Christina right now is what happens if the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission does not pass.  The State Board of Education votes on the redistricting plan on January 21st, and if it passes it goes on to the General Assembly.

If, at any point, the plan fails to move forward, the DOE will pounce on Christina’s priority schools.  They are already gearing up for it.  But Christina has dire matters on its plate.  The first is their precarious financial situation.  They could be in serious financial trouble if they don’t pass their next referendum attempt, the third in the past two school years.  As well, there is the issue with what appears to be an acting Superintendent stepping a bit outside of his comfort zone on district matters.  Bob Andrzejewski already made this list, and not for good reasons.  Since then, the Christina board voted down his request to join the BRINC Consortium in a 4-2 vote.  But as of last week, it appears Andrzejewski is submitting grant applications to the Delaware DOE without the knowledge of his board.

As the face of the Christina Board of Education, Minnehan will be the voice behind how to reign in Bob A, as he is often referred to in Delaware education circles.  It is essential that the board make Bob A understand they are the deciding authority in the district.  Minnehan will play a large part in how that is done.  The last thing the district needs is an acting superintendent going rogue.  The board will begin a search for a permanent superintendent in February.

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