Odyssey Back Under Formal Review For Racist Comments From Board Members

Odyssey Charter School is back under the formal review knife by the Delaware Department of Education following Blue Delaware’s explosive article the other day about board members making racist comments during a recent board meeting.

The Delaware Department of Education released the following statement today:

In response to complaints received by the Delaware Department of Education regarding Odyssey Charter School’s governance, Secretary of Education Susan Bunting is placing the school on formal review. Formal review is an investigatory process that will allow the Charter School Accountability Committee to determine whether the school has violated terms of its charter and probationary conditions of its charter renewal, including Conditions 1A and 1B. Additionally, Bunting condemns the discriminatory statements regarding Academia Antonia Alonso Charter School allegedly made by board members in a recording of a board meeting publicly released.

The Delaware State Board of Education has to vote on Bunting’s recommendation, to the best of my knowledge, which I assume they will tackle at their next meeting this month.  I predict they will approve it given the shenanigans their governance has gone through in the past year.

To be fair, it is the AHEPA idiots on their board that are the problem at this school.  It isn’t the education students are getting.  It isn’t even the school leadership.  It is the bizarre almost cult-like behavior of the AHEPA section of their Board of Directors.  Here is the bottom line: the AHEPA nuts have to go, period!  Anyone, in this day and age, fully knowing the board meetings are being recorded as required by Delaware state code, who engages in vocal crap like this deserves to be kicked off the board.  What an idiot!

For those who read about this from The News Journal or Delaware Online yesterday, they were late on the story and appeared to get their lead on this from Blue Delaware.  Did they credit Blue Delaware?  Hell no!  They always leave bloggers out in the cold.  Such is the way of The News Journal!

Updated, 3:43pm:

Apparently the school has issued a statement to parents regarding the 2nd formal review the school has been placed on in less than a year:

Communication from Joe Wolcott Board President, Denise Parks Head of School and Riccardo Stoeckicht, Campus Operations Manager

2/7/2020

Dear, families, students, and staff of OCS,

Today Secretary of Education Susan Bunting notified the OCS Board that the Department of Education is placing the school on formal review. Formal review is an investigatory process that will allow the Charter School Accountability Committee to determine whether the school has violated terms of its charter and probationary conditions of its charter renewal.

This is a painful process for the entire OCS community and we deeply regret the circumstances that have led to this formal review. The Board is taking the essential first steps to address accountability, heighten inclusivity awareness and provide sensitivity training to better serve our diverse community. We will continue to keep you informed of new developments.

As we continue to move forward and embrace change our focus will always be on the success and well-being of our remarkable student body.

Joe, Denise, Riccardo

 

Odyssey Audit Report Out! Lots Of “Can’t Explain” Financial Issues Going On!

The Delaware Auditor of Accounts office released the Odyssey Charter School Agreed-Upon Procedures report today.  The work was done independently by the Santora CPA Group.  The full report can be seen below.

The report shows a good deal of financial expenses that could not be explained by Odyssey Charter School.  The AHEPA gala, meant to raise funds for Odyssey, netted over $72,000 in cash donations.  The charter school only saw over $52,000 and AHEPA kept the rest.  Almost $10,000 in earmarked expenses had no justification or reason for what they were.  The Delaware Department of Education asked Odyssey to explain this as part of their formal review.  An AHEPA conference in July of 2018 had over $3,800 in unexplained expenses.

The report confirmed the Board President, Dmitri Dandalos, who was also the President of the local AHEPA , unilaterally decided on Chatham Bay continuing construction of the Ithaka Learning Center.  This was after a feasibility study determined it was not worth it to open up the early learning center.  This cost an additional $154,217.  The Board voted to pay this in executive session but it was noted in the report that the resolution to pass it in open session had no explanation of what they were paying.  But since Delaware charter schools do not get capital expenses and, therefore, no money from the Bond Bill, it doesn’t really matter in terms of the legality of it all.  Except it should.  Perhaps our legislators can fix that.  Even though it isn’t technically state money, it should still be accounted for.

Some of the expenses listed in the attachment section of the report can be easily explained.  One of the vendors of the school, The Schoolhouse 302, does professional development for the school.  My biggest question about that is why administrators from other school districts are doing a side company.  Those administrators are Joseph Jones, the Superintendent of New Castle County Vo-Tech, and T.J. Vari, a district administrator in Appoquinimink.  And if they are doing this professional development during school hours, why are they getting paid for that and their duties as administrators for their respective districts at the same time?  But I digress…

This report is riddled with expenses spent by Odyssey but did not agree with the amounts reported.  That is a very serious issue.  Last night I was viciously attacked by someone on Facebook for daring to write something bad about Odyssey.  No, I don’t think the school should be shut down.  I don’t have an issue with the education they provide their students.  From what I have heard, it is top-notch.  My issue is with the organizational end of the school.  How the board operates and how they spend taxpayer money is a big issue.  And it isn’t just Odyssey.  It is many charter schools AND districts in Delaware.  Odyssey just happens to be in the hot seat for this right now.  So is Christina School District on some levels.  My biggest problem is how there is no oversight over these things coming from the state.  Why does it take putting a school on formal review before the truth comes out?  Is there no one watching things at the granular level before it blows up?  Like I said, it’s not just charter schools.  It is districts too.  Both need to be watched very closely.  The charters get caught for it more but districts are doing shady crap too.  We all know it.  They know it.  It’s just a matter of time.

I am glad this report got out before the State Board of Education decided on the school’s charter renewal tomorrow night.  If I were the State Board, I would vote to keep Odyssey on probation until their actual renewal at the end of the school year! (special thanks to the friend who explained this could be a viable option!)

Explosive Public Comment For Odyssey’s Renewal, McGuiness Fails To Deliver

Public comment sent to the Charter School Office at the Delaware Department of Education indicates the AHEPA members of the Board of Directors over at Odyssey Charter School STILL haven’t learned the lesson that put them on formal review in the first place!

This prompted Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams to file Freedom of Information Act violations against the Board of Directors not once, but twice!

Sounds like AHEPA has some explaining to do!

Meanwhile, Delaware State Auditor Kathy McGuiness has failed to deliver the audit investigation into Odyssey Charter School.  They informed the school it was “anticipated” by December 15th.  It is now December 18th and the State Board of Education is making an important decision about this school in two days at their monthly meeting.  Once again, missing information.  But hey, let’s give McG a big break because I’m sure she is really busy socializing around Delaware for every opportunity she can get to let folks know she is Kathy McGuiness and some useless facts about the Auditor of Accounts office!

My prediction: further probation for Odyssey Charter School until all the facts come out on this stuff!

AHEPA Member Harasses Odyssey Whistle Blower Over Formal Review, Today Last Day For Public Comment

1934226_10208377923034552_6774516718266308220_n (2)

At the final Public Hearing for Odyssey Charter School’s formal review, public comment was given by Jennifer Ballas indicating a prominent member of the AHEPA organization publicly harassed her at Odyssey’s last public board meeting after she spoke out against AHEPA.

After I spoke at the last public board meeting, I was attacked by AHEPA member who threatened and tried to intimidate me, and things that Mr. Manny Kanas, who used to be AHEPA Board President, said, I was a loud mouth, disrespectful, rude piece of useless flesh that is a total puppet to Dr. Nick.  He told me I was stupid.  And he wanted me to go away.  And that the cat had my tongue, even though I did not have the time to quickly respond to him.  And that scorned women are the worst.

It can be tough to be a whistle blower.  You put yourself in the direct path of those who don’t like change.  Who don’t like the truth coming out.  This Manny Kanas person who used his bully pulpit in an attempt to humiliate and intimidate a woman who is devoted to the success of children at Odyssey, is a coward.  A pathetic man who is clearly all about control and holding onto a relic of the past that is not welcome in the 21st Century.  I have nothing against the concept of AHEPA.  I don’t have any issue with any group or culture formed to promote education.  What I do take issue is what the Wilmington chapter of this organization has become.  And their treatment of women is deplorable.

Even former DSEA President Mike Matthews gave public comment at the public hearing.

And the fact that so many have gotten up here tonight and said without the AHEPA majority, the school will fail, you just told those hundreds of teachers at that school they are failing.  And I reject that on its face.  This is arrogance and hubris that has led us to the point where we are today.

Today is the final day to submit public comment for Odyssey Charter School.  All comments must be received by the Charter School Office at the Delaware Department of Education before 4pm est today.  Public comment can be emailed to infocso@doe.k12.de.us and MUST be done today.  If you are against the practices of an outside AND private organization controlling a tax-payer paid public school, please let your voice be heard urging Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting and the State Board of Education to reject outside control of a public school board.  I’ll be submitting mine!

In the meantime, all the public comments from the meeting Monday night are below.  It is very easy to see who is cheer-leading for AHEPA and who is speaking out for the truth.

The final decision regarding the formal review for Odyssey Charter School will be at the July 18th State Board of Education meeting at the Townsend Building in Dover at 5pm.  It will be a very interesting decision!

As Odyssey Gets Ready For 2nd Public Hearing, AHEPA Emails Sound Like The Handmaid’s Tale…Blessed Be The Fruit!!!

As the clock ticks for a decision on Odyssey Charter School’s formal review, the final public hearing will be tonight.  Meanwhile, the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), which is the primary reason the school went under formal review in the first place, is begging their membership to come out in support of AHEPAn control of the school’s Board of Directors.  So much so they are beginning to sound very desperate.  I would urge the Delaware Secretary of Education and the State Board of Education to use a grain of salt when they read the public comments submitted to them.


From: AHEPA Wilmington Chapter 95 Office of the President <ahepawilm@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, Jun 30, 2019 at 11:10 PM
Subject: CALL TO ACTION/PLEASE READ CAREFULLY/AND EMAIL IMMEDIATELY!
To:

image.png
Good evening Brothers,

We need to FLOOD the DOE with emails regarding the AHEPA Family’s involvement with the Odyssey Charter School.  We MUST retain control for the school to continue to grow with the mission and vision of its pioneering creators!  Below, please find instructions on what should be done IMMEDIATELY.  In addition to yourself, share with family members and friends so that we inundate the DOE email box with supporting emails.

Click on this link:   https://delaware.gov/help/degov-contact.shtml
Enter your name, email, etc.
In the drop down for Category, enter Education
Subject: I support the AHEPA Family majority on the Odyssey Board…..or pick your own subject.  But make it stand out that you support the AHEPA Family
Enter your information in the body information
Submit

Share this with your friends and relatives.  Have your spouse do it too!  We need to impact their inbox!

And don’t forget!  We need you AND your VOICE and the Carvel State Office Building in downtown Wilmington next Monday, July 8th at 5pm.  You must sign up to speak, so please be there before 5!!!

Fraternally,
Michael Klezaras III

President


That was solicitation for the public comment.  Notice the use of the word “brothers” in the above email.  I guess “sisters” don’t get this email.  But I digress…

The following email was sent out yesterday to AHEPANs for public comment at the public hearing tonight at 5pm.


From: Michael Kirifides < mkirifides@gmail.com>
Date: July 7, 2019 at 1:44:14 PM EDT
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Subject: Fwd: CALL TO ACTION/PLEASE READ CAREFULLY/AND EMAIL IMMEDIATELY!

Dear Friend of AHEPA,
I would like to extend this invitation with urgency to support the local Chapter #95 of AHEPA in governing the Odyssey Charter School. There have been unsubstantiated allegations from a few individuals whose complaints have triggered the Delaware Department of Education to request that AHEPA cede its governing authority over the Odyssey Charter School. Without question, in time, the allegations will be disproved, yet the DoE has been pressuring the local AHEPA to relinquishing its governing majority to the few who are in hostile opposition to AHEPA. As a community, we are coordinating a grass roots response to the Charter School Accountability Committee during the public hearing on Monday July 8th at 5 pm being held at the Carvel State Office Building, 820 N. French Street, Wilmington, DE 19801.
Thank you in advance,
Michael Kirifides

 

From a “few individuals”.  Those “few individuals” sure put the spotlight on a lot of individuals, didn’t they Mr. Kirifides!  Is that spotlight “hostile” or just making sure the school board follows the laws of the state?  Didn’t know it was hostile to point out financial fraud!  I hope this formal review puts the AHEPA brotherhood in their place!  “May the Lord be!”

***Editor’s note: If you haven’t read or watched “The Handmaid’s Tale”, the references to the religious quotes will be lost on you. For those who do, doesn’t AHEPA sound very much like Gilead?

Delaware DOE Releases Final Odyssey Formal Review Report

Today, the Charter School Office at the Delaware Department of Education released the final report for the formal review of Odyssey Charter School.  While Delaware media covered a good deal of this, there is some new information.  In addition, the Odyssey Board of Directors sent out two letters to the Odyssey Community from the Wilmington Chapter of the AHEPA organization regarding their role with the Ithaka Learning Center that has been the center of a lot of allegations of financial shenanigans at Odyssey. Continue reading

Exclusive: The Truth Behind The Closure Of Design Thinking Academy

Urban

Shocking documents, never seen before by the public, give a shocking look at what led to the closure of Design Thinking Academy.  As usual, it is not based on academics but adult decisions and a corrupt board of directors. Continue reading

Odyssey Charter School Responds To Their Formal Review With Letters To Parents, Students and Teachers

After the State Board of Education put Odyssey Charter School under formal review last night, school leaders wrote a letter to the Odyssey community with a response.  In addition, I got my hands on the school’s response to Leroy Travers, the leader of the Charter School Office over at the Department of Education!

State Board of Education To Decide If Odyssey Will Get A Formal Review

While it doesn’t appear on the agenda for their meeting this Thursday, it is expected the Delaware State Board of Education will vote if Odyssey Charter School will get a formal review.  This gained a lot more traction based on an email that went out from school leadership to interested parties last Thursday. Continue reading

Odyssey Charter Board Gets Stern Warning From Delaware DOE As Wagons Circle Around AHEPA & Their He-Man Woman Haters Club

The ongoing saga with Odyssey Charter School continues!  As the AHEPA members of the Board continue to do whatever the heck they want, attention is being drawn to their stunts by more than just Odyssey staff and parents.  The spotlight on the school is not good as members of the General Assembly and the State Board of Education are giving complaints to the Charter School Office at the Delaware Department of Education.  But the DOE isn’t the only state agency looking into the many conflicts of interest from the Odyssey Board of Directors as evidenced by the below email from Charter School Office leader Leroy Travers: Continue reading

Kendall Massett’s White Privilege

We can’t celebrate successful schools that don’t celebrate diversity, period.

During the State Board of Education meeting tonight, a fascinating conversation took place concerning diversity at Newark Charter School.  While Delaware Charter Schools Network Executive Director Kendall Massett did not say a word during the talk, she did something that exhibited a distinct brand of white privilege that had to be seen to be believed.  Lucky for me, I saw it. Continue reading

State Board of Education Approves 7 Charter Schools For Renewal, Newark Charter School Gets 10 Year Renewal

Tonight, in a half hour part of their monthly meeting, the Delaware State Board of Education approved seven Delaware charter schools to be renewed. Continue reading

Campus Community Head Of School To Lead Charter School Office At Delaware DOE

The Delaware Department of Education has finally announced the new leader of their Charter School Office.  Leroy Travers, who served as the Head of School at Campus Community, has been chosen.

Travers came to Campus Community in 2013 as Principal.  After a couple of years, he became their new Head of School.  Travers comes at a very interest time at the Department as seven charter schools are going through their renewal process this fall.

Over at Campus Community, according to their website, it looks like long-time Curriculum Director Heidi Greene is their new Head of School.

This is the longest I’ve seen the Charter School Office without a leader in my almost four and a half years of blogging.  Former leader Denise Stouffer left the DOE on June 30th to take over as Head of School at Providence Creek Academy.  The role had been vacant until today.

I know Leroy Travers and have found him to be a good guy.  Anyone who knows the history of this blog knows my son once attended Campus and there were issues with his special education there.  But I will say Travers walked in at the tail-end of that and the hornet’s nest was already swarming.  So I bear no ill will towards him for any of that.  I sent him a congratulatory email.  I sincerely hope he lends more transparency coming from the charter school side of things at the Delaware DOE.

Prior to his time at Campus, Travers was an Assistant Principal at Laurel Middle School from 2009-2013 and was a 4th grade teacher at Laurel Elementary School from 2000-2009.  Travers received both his Bachelors Degree and Masters Degree in Education, School Leadership.

Leaderless DOE Fails To Deliver On Charter School Transparency & The Big Plan For NCS

When you don’t have a leader going on a fifth month is it any wonder the Charter School Office is going to Hell in a hand basket?  As the authorizer for seven charter schools under renewal this year, the Delaware Department of Education can’t even follow their own timeline.  It seems like things are going on behind the scenes with Newark Charter School during all this. Continue reading

Delaware DOE’s Big Plan To Steal Kids From Traditional School Districts & Send Them To Charter Schools

There are a finite number of students in Delaware schools.  Sure, the number enrolled steadily grows over the years, but there are only so many schools.  We know in Delaware that some districts are having lower enrollments thus creating lower capacities in those buildings.  The Delaware Department of Education really doesn’t care about that.  But if they can make sure charter schools grow, let’s do it!  Let’s take a look at the Delaware DOE’s plans for the huge grant they just got! Continue reading

Clueless DOE Can’t Even Support The Charter School Community Now!

Typically after a blogger posts something about the Delaware Department of Education they act pretty fast in trying to get something website related fixed.  Not the case with their Charter School Renewal section of their website.  I had to hunt last month’s State Board of Education agenda to find a document showing when the Charter School Accountability Committee meetings and public hearing will be held.

Last night I put up a screenshot of their charter renewal web page.  It was blank.  It looks like they did go into it today to modify the already blank page.  How does a blank page get modified?

Uhm, okay…

So like I said, I did find a timeline somewhere else.

Let’s see…today is October 15th.  Looks like there are two public hearings tonight.  There are three tomorrow night.  Two last week.  But what the heck is the public supposed to comment on when there are no renewal documents available?  Are they supposed to say “I’m drawing a blank on why I love/hate this charter school?”  This is an insult to the charter school crowd.  I believe this is also a violation of State Code, Title 14.  But what do I know? (more than the DOE these days)

Get  with the program DOE!  You are growing more incompetent by the day!  If you are having technical issues, put a note on the page.  We know you went on that page today!  Did DelawareCAN/Atnre Alleyne hack into the DOE’s website last week too?  And why are they having public hearings before the first CSAC meetings?  Typically it is the other way around.  Secretary Bunting, it is time to wake up now!  This shouldn’t be THIS easy for me!

I will update this if the DOE gets around to updating their non-transparent website or they modify the blank page again.

Charter School Office At Delaware DOE Throws Transparency Out The Window

Good luck finding out any information on the many Delaware charter schools that are up for renewal this December.  Turns out the Charter School Office scrubbed that part of their website on Thursday.  This same office has also gone without a leader since July 1st, three and a half months after Denise Stouffer left the role for Providence Creek Academy.

While I’m sure the DOE will call this a simple technical error, that is one big error!  How do you empty a whole webpage?

I checked this page today because I knew the Charter School Accountability Committee would be holding their first meetings with the many charter schools under renewal this month.  The last thing I wanted to see was a blank page.

So which charter schools are up for renewal? Delaware Design-Lab Design Thinking Academy, First State Military Academy, Freire, Greak Oaks, Kuumba, Newark Charter School, and Positive Outcomes.  Maybe when the Charter School Office gets the email tomorrow morning about me writing this blog post they will restore the page.

The Charter School Office leader position has been posted twice for recruitment.  Does nobody want this job or is the DOE looking for someone in particular?  My bet would go to the former.  I’m sure any applicant would know that just having the role would put them in my crosshairs.  Which is fine as long as you are transparent and aren’t doing the shady charter school cover-up stuff that would cause me to write something bad about you.

We saw a charter school collapse this fall while the Charter School Office remained without a leader.  And now we should expect that office to deal with seven charter renewals?  Sounds like Secretary of Education Susan Bunting’s idea of the DOE as a support organization is a bit of a misnomer.  I see it as not-so-organized chaos.

Delaware Design Lab Submitted A Modification To Change Their Name To Design Thinking Academy

Updated, 9/25/18: The title of this article has been changed to reflect that the school did submit a minor modification request to change their name.  This was approved by Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting at the end of August.

As announced by Jessica Bies with the News Journal last week, Delaware Design Lab High School is now Design Thinking Academy.  The charter school did submit a major modification request last year to decrease their enrollment but they never submitted a minor modification request to change the name of the school. Continue reading

What Is Going On With Gateway’s Board Of Directors? Did They Violate FOIA & Their Own By-Laws?

The Gateway Lab School Board of Directors went through a radical shift between their July and August board meetings.  Four board members disappeared but nothing was found in the minutes or audio recordings stating those board members resigned.  As well, changes to their by-laws might have been done illegally. Continue reading

Herb Sheldon Out At DAPSS Until Further Notice

As of Thursday, August 30th, Director of Operations Herb Sheldon has been placed on leave until further notice at Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security.  The notice to staff did not indicate whether it is a paid or an unpaid leave. Continue reading