16 Very Tough Questions With Capital School District About In-School Alternative Placements

A month ago, I posted an article about an In-School Alternative Program the Capital School District Board of Education would be voting on at upcoming board meeting. When I read the contract and heard the board audio recording, I had several questions about the program.  I do understand the Christina School District runs the same program but I had some concerns for it in Capital’s middle schools and high school.  Continue reading

Dan Shelton’s Bizarre Psuedo Maybe Endorsement For Ralph Taylor Is Causing Many To Scratch Their Heads

It’s a rule of thumb in elections: You can’t endorse candidates if you work in a state agency.  When that candidate is on the school board who hired you and can fire you, that endorsement is clearly a conflict of interest.  The 31st State Rep. District primary race has been a popcorn eating event for weeks now.

Enter Ralph Taylor, a Capital School District Board of Education member running for the 31st State Rep. seat against incumbent Sean Lynn for the Democratic ticket.  Today, he posted the following on his Facebook page:

While Shelton does not come out and say “I endorse Ralph Taylor” it certainly comes across as an endorsement.  Especially since it is two days before the Primary.  The fact that the Capital Board of Education has allowed Taylor to use the microphone at board meetings to promote his campaign has not been ignored by attendees in the room.  One attendee, who wished to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, said the following: “Taylor shouldn’t be using his seat on the board for political purposes.  It gives the impression of vote for me or else.”

I wholeheartedly agree.  Shelton’s short of a full endorsement definitely dances on that fine line between a reference letter and an endorsement.  Is Shelton aware Taylor is using this as leverage in his campaign?  I did ask the Taylor campaign on the Facebook post if this was an endorsement or a reference letter.  The campaign responded it was “a note of support”.  The campaign also asked if I was being “petty again”.

It is a given that district employees are not allowed to promote campaigns for school boards.  The same is true for using state time to promote a candidate in elections.  This is just weird.

Proposal Floating To Have State Board Use Charter Performance Framework For Potential State Takeover Of School Districts

All hell broke loose at Smyrna High School’s auditorium tonight.  The Chair of the School District Consolidation Task Force talked about a recommendation for state takeover of struggling school districts. Continue reading

Capital School District Salaries Over $100,000

The Capital School District is in the middle of Kent County where the capital of The First State lies.  Even their middle school, Central, boasts itself as being in “The Heart of Dover”.  Their enrollment has pretty much been flat over the past four years.  The district has two middle schools, one for 5-6 and one for 7-8.  Potential plans may change that in the future, but this also causes a bit more administrative positions than most school districts.  Superintendent Dan Shelton is going on his 3rd year in the district.  He replaced Dr. Michael Thomas who retired at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.  Capital is one of the districts in the state with the largest percentage of low-income students.  As notated in the article on Caesar Rodney, the competition between the two districts is well-known in Kent County! Continue reading

Delaware ACLU Planning To Sue State Over Education Funding

In a shocking announcement, the Delaware American Civil Liberties Union wants to sue the State of Delaware over education funding.  But the announcement was not made by the ACLU but rather a Capital School District Board of Education member at their meeting last evening. Continue reading

Delaware School Safety Report Shows Severe Limitations In Our Schools For Controlling Violence

If we are to have a chance to reduce and reverse this type of behavior, it is necessary to begin early and to start in the home. Efforts must be made to reach out students and to provide them with positive new directions in elementary school. Several committee members pointed out that “middle school is too late.”

“If joining a gang is the only way to survive, the kids will join gangs,” one committee member said, adding, “A lot of teachers don’t know who gang members are. You, as a teacher, should know how to interact with kids and parents because kids and parents may not have the ability to interact with us.”

The committee discussed the possibility of cell phone bans in schools, but public schools in Delaware have not done so because parents want to be able to reach their children by phone.

These were just a few of the topics discussed in the Special Committee on Public Safety.

School safety.  Two words that mean so many things to so many people.  To some, it means making sure every single student and staff member is protected from violence.  To some it means reporting requirements.  Many think of Sandy Hook or Columbine.  Others think of a mounting problem that can never be corrected.

Earlier this year, in the wake of two very violent deaths in Wilmington, a group was formed by Senator Robert Marshall.  Marshall is the Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee.  He formed a group that met twice to discuss school safety issues with various topics introduced.  Out of these meetings, Senate Concurrent Resolution #83 formed a Special Committee on School Safety.  The final report was given to the President Pro Tempore of the Delaware Senate and Governor Markell yesterday.

The below report has a great deal of information.  It is very long but it is worth the read.  Take the time to read it.  Every single word.  Whether you are for or against School Resource Officers or Constables in Delaware schools, it is important to know what is happening out there.  It affects every single citizen of this state.  Issues in schools can explode outside of schools often, but issues outside of schools are brought into schools all the time.

The one thing I took out of this report is there are no easy answers.  Issues around funding and legality are some of the biggest obstacles to making schools safer.  Trauma plays a huge role in our high-needs schools.  Family issues outside of school are one of the biggest obstacles to safe schools.

There was one recommendation coming out of the final report that I didn’t see discussed anywhere in the meeting minutes.

Provide funding for the Delaware Department of Education to conduct a voluntary, statewide survey among students, parents, and teachers to get their thoughts on improving the learning environment and ways to make our schools safer.

It can’t be a report on education in Delaware without the Delaware Dept. of Education inserting something they want, which usually involves them getting more money.  One important thing to take note of in this report is that Delaware Senator David Sokola and State Rep. Earl Jaques were both listed as members of this committee but neither went to any of the meetings on it or bothered to assign a designee to attend in their absence.

The parts about Senate Bill 207, which I also issued severe problems with, were echoed by many in regards to future under-reporting of incidents in schools.  I thank God the House added an amendment to the bill that still requires mandatory reporting to the Delaware DOE.  But there is one line about Senate Bill 207 in the final report which will give any Delaware citizen severe anxiety.

Dan Shelton, former Principal in Christina S.D., is new Superintendent for Capital School District

According to the Dover Post, the new superintendent of the Capital School District is Dan Shelton.  Shelton served as the Principal at Smith Elementary School in the Christina School District.  More details can be found in the article by Dover Post’s David Paulk:

http://www.doverpost.com/article/20150618/NEWS/150619811