Nick Manolakos’ Journey At Odyssey Comes To An End. What Is His Next Move?

Dr. Nick Manolakos, the long-time Headmaster of Odyssey Charter School is no longer serving in that capacity.  What he does next may not be what many folks expected to happen. Continue reading

Vo-Tech Vicki Sticking Around Another Couple Of Years

It looks like New Castle County Vo-Tech Superintendent Dr. Vicki Gehrt has renewed her contract for another two years.  Last summer, Dr. Gehrt wanted to start the process early for her contract renewal, but the board didn’t really want to jump the gun.  This reverberated into a tumultuous board meeting where the board was going in and out of executive session while Gehrt was visibly upset.  But it appears whatever issues were going on have been ironed out and Gehrt will be sticking around the vocational New Castle school district.

I have to wonder who else may have had their eyes on the prize?

Former Dover High School Principal Dr. Edney Moving To Early College High School at DSU

Dr. Evelyn Edney, the Dover High School principal, is finishing up her last days at Dover High School and has taken on the position of Principal at Early College High School at Delaware State University.  Last winter, supporters of Edney were very upset her contract wasn’t renewed with the Capital School District.  They came to board meetings demanding transparency on the issue.

It sounds like Edney has secured a new position, albeit in a much smaller charter school.  Please read the press release from Early College High School on Edney’s new role:

Dr. Fleetwood Gets His Contract Renewed At Charter School of Wilmington

Just announced by the individual running the Change.org petition: Dr. Thomas Fleetwood of the Charter School of Wilmington was given a new contract as of 1pm today.  After allegations surfaced that school leader Sam Paoli would not renew Fleetwood’s contract because the teacher called Paoli out on his bullying and intimidation, it appears Paoli doesn’t have total control after all.

This has probably been a rough couple weeks for Paoli getting called out on all this stuff.  But the results of this probably aren’t leaving the best impression with the Board of Directors.  Will they make a change?

Charter School of Wilmington Leader Dr. Paoli Under Fire In Change.org Petition To Restore Dr. Fleetwood’s Contract

The ongoing story about Charter School of Wilmington’s leader, Dr. Sam Paoli, continues.  Last week, stories emerged about the leader and his bullying and intimidation towards students.  This caused a great deal of controversy.  Now it is revealed his attitudes are not just isolated to students.  A Change.org petition to renew a very beloved teacher’s contract is currently under way.  Dr. Thomas Fleetwood has been at the school since the beginning, and students are extremely offended his contract was not renewed.

Some students feel Paoli did not renew his contract because Fleetwood challenged Paoli on the bullying and intimidation we are now learning is directed towards anyone who disagrees with him.  I would have to ask this: why is Paoli the sole deciding factor on faculty?  Wouldn’t this be a board decision?  In most schools, it is the boards who make these types of decisions.  A school leader can make a recommendation, but it should be the board.  I don’t have an answer to this, and if anyone from the Charter School of Wilmington board wants to advise on this, please let me know.

In 2013, Dr. Fleetwood won an award from the Delaware Charter School Network called a “Dedication Award” for his achievements in teaching high school students.  The article on this quoted a parent as saying “he sets a high bar for all of his students, and provides real-world experience that inspires his students to pursue careers in the medical profession.”

The convergence of student and faculty issues with Paoli is something the CSW board should take an immediate look at.  Schools need leaders, not dictators.  In the comments on my articles last week about a discipline incident, as well as other exchanges outside my blog, it was overwhelmingly clear there are major issues with Paoli as the leader of CSW.  Most said he is not a fit leader and bullying and intimidation is common practice with him.  All eyes are on the board at CSW to see what happens next.

Capital Board of Education Meeting Tonight Draws A Huge Crowd To Support High School Principal

The Capital School District Board of Education meeting tonight was a packed house, in spite of very icy roads in Dover, DE.  Most of the crowd was there to support the Dover High School Principal, Dr. Evelyn Edney.  Edney’s contract was not renewed by the board in the November executive session of their board meeting, despite a recommendation to renew by Capital Superintendent Dr. Michael Thomas.

There were about fifty public comments submitted, but Board President Kay Dietz-Sass limited the comments to a maximum of three minutes each for two blocks of fifteen minutes each.  Edney’s supporters claimed her non-renewal would set back race relations 50 years in the capital of Delaware.  Some gave exact details of how much a potential lawsuit would cost the district.  Edney, an African-American, was supported by several members of the Dover community.  The board did add another fifteen minutes at the end of the evening, allowing an additional half hour of public comment.

In an article in the Dover Post from December 17th, 2014, a teacher at the high school said in the 12/10 Capital Board meeting “Under her leadership, she has gotten Dover High School out of the state’s partnership zone program, met average yearly progress (AYP) goals and increased graduation and attendance rates,” he told the board. “She is a leader that puts the students first and I am asking that the DHS contract be put back on the agenda for February 2015 and revisit the decision, giving more time for community input.”

Many of the commenters at tonight’s board meeting demanded to know why Edney’s contract was not being renewed.  Dietz-Sass told the commenters they could not discuss personnel issues based on laws protecting employees.  One commenter asked which law this was, to which Dr. Thomas told the commenter he would check with the Board attorney and would get back in touch with him.  Another commenter actually said he was going to start a petition to disband the school board and would give it to Governor Markell.  I don’t think the Governor has that kind of power over a local education agency school board, but they are welcome to try.

In terms of allegations of Edney’s race playing a factor into the decision, that would be tough to prove given that Capital has many African-American principals.  I do think the board should give a valid reason to Edney why her contract wasn’t renewed, but I don’t think members of the community should make it into a bigger issue.  There could be a multitude of issues beyond a track record of improvements for the high school.  That should be between Edney and the Board.  Just my two cents…

For more information on the Dover Post article from 12/17/14, please go here: http://www.doverpost.com/article/20141217/NEWS/141219820?template=printart

Will Odyssey Charter School Headmaster Swim Downstream?

My mole in the Delaware charter school community has informed me Odyssey Charter School Headmaster Dr. Nick Manolakos has applied for the position of Head of School at Providence Creek Academy in Clayton, DE.  This would be an interesting move for Manolakos.  Does this mean all Providence Creek kids will be required to learn Greek?  From the parents I know at this school, they will be less than thrilled at that prospect!

From the Odyssey Charter School PTO Facebook page, there is now a Move On petition to renew Manolakos’ contract at Odyssey. So I went to check the link, and sure enough, there it is: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/renew-dr-manolakos-ocs?source=c.em.mt&r_by=12008808

Renew Dr. Manolakos’ OCS Employment Contract

To be delivered to OCS School Board

Petition Statement

The Parents of Odyssey Charter School strongly urge that the Odyssey School Board renew Dr. Nick Manolakos’ employment contract immediately. The OCS Parents want to ensure Dr. Manolakos remains the leader of our school as we grow into a full K-12 school.
There are currently 284 signatures. NEW goal – We need 300 signatures!
Petition Background

Odyssey Charter School is an outstanding school with high academic performance and a supportive community of students, families and faculty.

This is in no small part due to our leader, Dr. Nick Manolakos. The OCS Parents highly value the culture he has created, the leadership he has demonstrated and the academic achievement he has driven.

Because of this, the OCS Parents do not want to lose Dr. Manolakos. Therefore the OCS Parents want the OCS School Board to renew Dr. Manolakos’ employment contract.

Thanks!!
Jen Ballas, PTO Board Rep
Kate Klemas, OCS Parent at Large Board Rep
Shelly Towler, PTO President