Family Foundations Parents AND Teachers, It’s Time To Tell The Truth!!!!!

Anyone even remotely associated with Family Foundations Academy needs to bear all about this school, and now would be the time to do it.  If you know of any problems there such as financial mismanagement, bullying issues, abuse, harassment, special education issues, test manipulation, anything, please be honest and let the Delaware Department of Education Charter School Office know what’s really going on there.  Children are the victims of the outright fraud and manipulation perpetrated by the Heads of School there.  In the end, it doesn’t really matter who spent more on school credit cards for personal use.  It’s not right, and anything else that has gone on there needs to be brought to the surface.  This message is also for teachers, former teachers, staff members and any board member that wants to come clean.

Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and the Delaware State Board of Education will make a decision on the charter renewal of Family Foundations Academy at the January 15th State Board of Education meeting.  They are also extending public comment until the end of the day on January 12th.

As per the charter school office website:

On December 18, pursuant to the approval of the Family Foundations Academy Board of Directors to waive the 60-day time period for a decision on its renewal application, the Secretary of Education deferred the decision to allow for necessary due diligence on potentially serious allegations of financial mismanagement.  The Secretary of Education will announce his decision at the January 15, 2015 State Board of Education meeting, to be held at 1:00 p.m. in the Townsend Building in Dover.

Under the original renewal process timeline, the deadline for public comment was Friday, December 12 and the record closed prior to the December 18 State Board of Education meeting. Since the timeline for FFA’s renewal has been extended, the DOE will also extend the timeline in which public comments may be submitted and materials may be added to the record. The new deadline for all public comment and new materials will be Monday, January 12, at 11:59 p.m.

All public comment and new materials may be submitted to the Charter School Office by email at infocso@doe.k12.de.us. Public comments may also be submitted through an online form.

 

Gateway Lab School Saved In Close State BOE Vote No Thanks to Pat Heffernan! @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @RCEAPrez @Apl_Jax @ecpaige @nannyfat

As everyone assuredly knows by now, Gateway Lab School was saved from closing at the end of this school year in a 4-3 vote yesterday at the Delaware State Board of Education meeting.  What you may not know is what was said during the discussion prior to the vote.  Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy all but said the public outcry over the school’s possible closure saved the day for them.  More specifically, the amount of comments made from the Delaware General Assembly trying to save the school with a very high population of special needs children.

What shocked me though was board member Patrick Heffernan’s immediate attack on the school.  Half an hour earlier he had voted yes for the renewal of Delaware Academy of Public Safety’s charter renewal.  Questions were raised about the upcoming academic framework all schools will have based on the upcoming Smarter Balanced Assessment.  For this reason, Heffernan voted yes for their charter renewal, despite the fact the school had some academic issues based on the prior DCAS scores.  So why would he not be consistent with Gateway Lab School?

In commenting on the school, Heffernan said “I know we’re seeing some good things going on there now, but I think the information we have in front of us shows that this has not been a very well-run school.”  While not acknowledging the administration and structure for a school of this type would be run very different than a traditional school, Heffernan proceeded to base all his arguments for closure based on comparisons to traditional schools.  Even Mark Murphy publicly stated it would not be fair to do so.

His wife, Debra Heffernan, a State Representative in Delaware, served on the IEP Task Force in Delaware, and she pushed for discussion about standards based IEPs, but nothing came of that out of the task force.  The Heffernans have publicly commented about their own special needs child in the past, so I am very curious why they are judging special education so harshly and are trying to get special needs parents to blindly accept the Common Core State Standards.  Research has shown these standards are not “one size fits all” and that children with special needs do not perform relative to their regular classroom peers on these tests.

While three members of the state board voted no, Heffernan, Melendez, and Board President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray, the majority voted yes, and Gateway is saved.  On the school’s previously titled Save Gateway Lab School, Head of School Catherine Dolan wrote the following:

Dear Gateway Gladiator Parents/Guardians,

Mark Murphy, Secretary of Education, recommended a Conditional Renewal and the State Board voted to support him. We get one year to show major improvement.

Gratefully,

Catherine Dolan – Head of School

While some were confused over what this renewal meant for the school, Executive Director of the State Board of Education commented this morning on a Facebook post:

Actually the action taken today was the renewal of the charter for Gateway, which is a five year renewal, however they were renewed with a condition to meet standards on an alternate academic framework by the end of the 2015-16 school year. If they are not meeting standards at that point then the state would pursue revocation through formal review.

Delaware State Representative Trey Paradee, of the 29th District, wrote the following:

Schools like Gateway and Positive Outcomes fill a very special and necessary niche: to help children who have not been able to find success in a traditional classroom setting. The parents of children who attend these schools are fiercely supportive of them and are grateful that they exist. To judge the students and teachers at these schools by the same standards that are applied to the traditional public schools is ludicrous. Hats off to the teachers who step up to the challenge of teaching at Gateway, Positive Outcomes, and the schools that serve a disproportionate number of disadvantaged children.

Meanwhile, I’m sure Gateway Lab School parents, students and teachers are breathing a collective sigh of relief as their school has been saved.  As the Smarter Balanced Assessment is mere months away, schools in Delaware are all worried about the ramifications this already controversial tests will have on their own academic framework.

DE Charter School Network Connections With Family Foundations Academy Disaester

The embattled Head of School for Family Foundation Academy, Sean Moore, is also the treasurer for the Delaware Charter School Network.  On the Charter School Accountability Committee (CSAC) is Chuck Taylor, who is the President of the Governing Board of the Delaware Charter School Network.  Taylor is listed on the CSAC Voting Committee as a “community member” and “former charter school leader”.

It is obvious there could be a large conflict of interest with Taylor and Moore serving on the same board.  Taylor, in my opinion, should have recused himself from dealing with this school’s charter renewal, especially in light of the forthcoming financial improprieties that will be coming out shortly.  But the very fact Taylor is listed as “community member” and not his true role, and the fact that Kendall Massett, the executive director of the DE Charter School Network is allowed to ask questions during a charter renewal committee meeting is suspect in itself.  The DE Charter School Network is a non-profit company whose mission is to support the charter schools in their network.  But it is obvious they have way too much influence at the DOE.  If they want to act like union reps, they should call themselves that.

Things keep piling up against Family Foundations Academy, the charter school in Wilmington, DE that is up for charter renewal.  Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy will make a decision at the Delaware State Board of Education  meeting on Thursday, December 18th.

During the schools initial charter school renewal meeting on October 14th, the board and heads of school were grilled by the CSAC, and you can see where, in my opinion, Chuck Taylor crossed the line.  It’s a lengthy read, but goes into a lot of what has been already released.  But don’t think this is the end for Family Foundations, there will be more coming.

I’ve written the DOE gave Family Foundations Academy a pass while Gateway and Reach were given a trip to the guillotine, but I don’t think things are looking too good for this Animal House charter.

Mark Murphy & Governor Markell Targeting Gateway & Reach! Making Room For Priority Charters?

In a shocking article yesterday, Kilroy’s Delaware announced the Delaware Department of Education and Secretary of Education Mark Murphy were targeting Gateway Lab School and Reach Academy For Girls.  Both these schools have struggled for many years with reaching the proficiency ratings from standardized testing.  My thoughts and predictions on this are below the DOE announcement from yesterday:

CHARTER SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY COMMITTEE ISSUES RECOMMENDATIONS ON REACH ACADEMY, GATEWAY LAB’S FUTURES

Secretary Murphy to make decision at December 18 State Board of Education meeting following public comment period

The Delaware Department of Education’s Charter School Accountability Committee today recommended not to renew Reach Academy and Gateway Lab School’s charters at the end of this academic year because of poor academic performance at both schools.

A public hearing is scheduled for December 10 in Wilmington with public comment accepted through that date as well. After reviewing the record, including public hearing transcripts, public comment and the CSAC recommendations, Secretary of Education Mark Murphy will make his decision regarding the schools’ futures at the December 18 State Board of Education meeting.

Should the Secretary and the State Board accept the committee’s recommendations and decide not to renew the charters, the state will assist families in finding other schools for the next academic year. The children may return to the district schools in their home feeder patterns or fill out the state’s School Choice application for another district or charter school. The application deadline is January 14, 2015.

Reach Renewal Information/Timeline
· Renewal report (April 2014)
· Academic Performance Review (September 9, 2014)
· Organizational Performance Review (October 1, 2014)
· Financial Performance Review (October 1, 2014)
· Renewal application (September 30, 2014)
· Public hearing transcript (October 8, 2014)
· Initial CSAC meeting (October 15, 2014)
· CSAC initial report issued (October 22, 2014)
· School response (November 7, 2014)
· Final CSAC meeting (November 17, 2014)
· Final CSAC report issued (November 24, 2014)

· Public hearing and close of public comment period (6 p.m., December 10, 2014, 2nd floor auditorium, Carvel State Office Building, 820 N. French St., Wilmington)

· Decision by Secretary Murphy at State Board of Education meeting (1 p.m., December 18, 2014, Cabinet Room, Townsend Building, 401 Federal St., Dover)

Gateway Renewal Information/Timeline
· Renewal report (April 2014)
· Academic Performance Review (September 9, 2014)
· Organizational Performance Review (October 1, 2014)
· Financial Performance Review (October 1, 2014)
· Renewal application (September 30, 2014)
· Public hearing transcript (October 8, 2014)
· Initial CSAC meeting (October 14, 2014)
· CSAC initial report issued (October 22, 2014)
· School response (November 7, 2014)
· Final CSAC meeting (November 17, 2014)
· Final CSAC report issued (November 24, 2014)

· Public hearing and close of public comment period (6 p.m., December 10, 2014, 2nd floor auditorium, Carvel State Office Building, 820 N. French St., Wilmington)

· Decision by Secretary Murphy at State Board of Education meeting (1 p.m., December 18, 2014, Cabinet Room, Townsend Building, 401 Federal St., Dover)

In other recommendations, the committee supported renewal of the following charter schools: Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security, EastSide Charter School, Family Foundations Academy, Las Américas ASPIRA Academy and Odyssey Charter School.

According to last year’s September 30th Unit Count report, Gateway Lab School is home to almost 60% special education students.  Out of that population of 122 students, nearly 28% were listed as in intensive or complex categories.  It is very easy to see why this many students with disabilities would struggle with standardized testing, something the DOE, Murphy and Markell seem to ignore.  Rigor and special needs don’t mix well, never have, never will.  But the DOE, in its continued arrogance, seems to think these students will just magically rise to the occasion.

The timing is also very suspicious for this announcement.  A month and a half before the Christina and Red Clay Districts have to announce their intentions with the priority schools and the already soon-to-be-closed Moyer charter school was given the hangman’s noose, two other charters seem to be given a death sentence as well.  This is a lot of realignment in one county.  Reach has been a thorn in the DOE’s side for years, but Gateway is different.  Closing Gateway would send a crystal clear message to the special needs community that no one is safe from scrutiny in Delaware.  I’ve commented before about the very high population of special needs children in the priority schools, and now this.  It would not be surprising if a very huge charter school housing special needs children in Newcastle County became a reality.  There has already been a Facebook announcement of a planned charter school of this type for Kent County, in addition to Positive Outcomes.

The DOE is shifting the landscape to further their own agenda.  So far, nothing has been able to stop them in their endless quest to harm public education in Delaware.  No task force, union, PTA, or other groups have stopped them in anything since Governor Markell began his authoritarian reign.  They are making all their decisions based on DCAS scores which no longer mean anything since that is not the state assessment anymore.  Furthermore, many students at Gateway would most likely qualify for the DCAS-Alt assessment.  The DOE could care less because to think otherwise would show a level playing field.  If Rodel and Markell say to do it, they jump.  And yet, Delaware College Prep gets a pass even though they have not met proficiency in four years.  Yes, their charter is not up for renewal, but they must please someone in the DOE and the Governor’s office.  This just proves the DOE will use data and manipulate it when it suits their needs.

I anticipate the parents at Gateway will cause a huge ruckus over this announcement.  This needs to be a warning sign to EVERY special needs parent in Delaware that has children in our public schools.  The DOE does not care about disabilities.  They do not care about anything that could affect your child.  It’s all about serving their masters and corporate profit at student’s expense.  They are moving so fast with decisions, the public can’t digest yesterday’s announcement when another one comes.  This throws everyone off track and stops the negative chatter because nobody can keep up with it all.

I will say this once more: We need to make a stand against Governor Markell and the DOE.  We need to do this now.  If you are in agreement, let’s start planning now.  We will only get one chance before things change so much we will be helpless to stop it.  Yes, I can be very argumentative about these things, but how often have I been wrong since I started this blog?  Come January 1st, I predict Markell will announce the priority schools will become charter schools, effective August 2015.  The student populations that don’t go to the feeder schools of the six priority schools, Gateway, Moyer and Reach will all transfer to the new charter school chain in the CEB Tower in downtown Wilmington.  If they do not make a new special needs charter school in this building, these students will go to their feeder schools where the DOE will use the data from Smarter Balanced to judge those schools as failures.  Eventually, they will replace every single school with charter schools while Rodel, the Vision Network, the DuPonts, Delaware Community Foundation, Governor Markell, select members of the DOE, many legislators, and the millionaires of Delaware become VERY rich, more than they already might be.