State Board of Education Meeting on Thursday Promises To Be One For The Ages! Charter Decisions & Teacher Regulations!!!

The Delaware State Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Thursday June 18th at 1pm.  Not only do we have four charter schools awaiting the final decisions of their formal reviews, but we also have more teacher regulations again and more information on the State Review of Educational Opportunities (SREO).  The last is an initiative announced by Governor Markell back in March.

The four Delaware charters under formal review are Academy of Dover (Financial and Academic), Prestige Academy (Enrollment and Academic), Freire Charter (Enrollment, became review of their special education services as well), and Delaware Design Lab High School (Enrollment).  Freire and Design Lab have met their enrollment figures.  Academy of Dover has entered into a settlement agreement with Mosaica who they owed a $2 million judgment to).  The academic portions will need to be satisfactory to Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and the State Board when they make their decision.  The Charter School Accountability Committee recommended probation for all four schools.

You can read all about the meeting.  Just click on certain items, like the regulations, and you can see all the pdfs for them.  One of them has numerous letters from teachers.  All can be seen here: https://eboard.eboardsolutions.com/Meetings/ViewMeetingOrder.aspx?S=190001&MID=388

Final Public Hearings For Freire, Prestige Academy and DE Design Lab Tonight At 5pm, Academy of Dover Tomorrow At 6pm

The Charter School Accountability Committee at the Delaware Department of Education is holding the final Public Hearings for Freire Charter School, Prestige Academy and Delaware Design Lab High School tonight in the 2nd floor auditorium at the Carvel Building in Wilmington at 5pm.  Academy of Dover will have their final public hearing tomorrow night at the main Delaware DOE building across from Legislative Hall at 5pm tomorrow in the 2nd floor Cabinet Room.

These are not public hearings where the schools are on trial.  Rather, it gives the public time to give comment on these schools official formal review proceedings.  There is a transcript which is put on the DOE website a couple days after.

I anticipate quite a few of the community members near the new Freire sight to protest this school’s location again.  For Academy of Dover, God only knows what will come out at this hearing!

Last Chance Meeting For Academy of Dover, Prestige and DE Design Lab On Wednesday, Freire Will Be Saved By Jack and Murphy

On Wednesday, June 3rd, at 1pm, the four Delaware charter schools under formal review will have their final Charter School Accountability Committee meetings.  The meeting will be held at the Townshend Building in Dover, home to the Delaware Department of Education.

It remains to be seen if Academy of Dover will be able to overcome the odds and save itself.  The key for Delaware Design Lab and Prestige Academy will be their current enrollment figures.  Freire has already met those figures, and at last count was at 93%.  All they needed was 80%.  Prestige will also need to prove if they are worthy enough academically.

This is the major problem with the DOE holding any school accountable for academics at this point in time.  DCAS is over, and Smarter Balanced is here, at least for this year.  Schools should not be double penalized for last year’s DCAS scores.  They shouldn’t be punished at all for standardized test scores.

Academy of Dover has to prove they are financially viable with a $2 million dollar judgment staring them in the face.  They face the academic battle as well.  But the even more dangerous threat for them is one student.  One student with autism who represents the severe danger of this school staying open.  One student whose mother will stand up for him and reveal all.  Blue Ribbon status won’t be enough to save Academy of Dover.  But one student…one student could shut them down for good.

The fate of them all will be decided on June 18th, at the State Board of Education meeting…

Academy of Dover, Freire, DE Design Lab, & Prestige Academy Get Their Initial Formal Review Meeting Reports

What do these Delaware Charter Schools have in common: Academy of Dover, Freire Charter School of Wilmington, Prestige Academy and Delaware Design Lab High School?  Not only are they all under formal review, but the Charter School Accountability Committee came out with their initial reports in the last hour!

We start the show with Academy of Dover.  Having attended this meeting, it is missing some crucial moments, but that’s okay.  I’m sure it will all come out in the wash!

Next up is Freire Charter School of Wilmington.  Not even opened yet, and they are already up for formal review.  But they do have a get out of jail free card if they decide to use it….

Prestige Academy sure does have a lot going against it right now.  Academic and enrollment are not good reasons to have a formal review placed on your school!

Last, but not least, is Delaware Design Lab High School.  They already received a new lease on life last year with a modification to reduce their enrollment.  They can only use this trick once.  Will they get their enrollment up?

It’s very sad when 18% of the charter schools in the state are under a formal review.  Actually, make that 23% if Red Clay puts the formal review screws on Delaware College Prep.  The final reports, after public hearings tomorrow and Wednesday will be issued two days after the final committee meetings on June 5th.

Formal Review for Freire, Prestige Academy, DE Design Lab & Academy of Dover

At the State Board of Education meeting today, four Delaware charters, two of which have not even opened yet, were all put on formal review.  Two were for enrollment, one was for enrollment and academic issues, and the last was for academic and financial issues.

Freire and Delaware Design Lab High School were put on formal review for low enrollment.  As per Delaware state code, an approved charter school must have 80% of it’s fall enrollment by April 1st.  Freire had a major modification approved to reduce their enrollment cap from 336 to 224 at last month’s State Board meeting.  As of April 1st, they were at 78 and today they are at 92.  Delaware Design Lab is going through the same growing pains as well.  Other charters scheduled to open next year have the following enrollment percentages- Great Oaks: 100%, First State Military: 94% and Delaware Met: 81%.  Freire could ask for a one-year extension to open, but they would have to do so by 5/12.  Delaware Design Lab already was granted a one-year extension last year, which can only be done once.

Prestige Academy was placed on Formal Review for low enrollment as well as academic reasons.  Out of their 225 enrollment cap, they were at 59% as of 4/1 with 186 enrollments, and today they are at 190.  Their academic percentage of proficiency also went down 17% between the 2012-2013 year and the 2013-2014 year, from 56% to 39.1%.  What muddies the waters on this formal review is the framework for Smarter Balanced won’t be available until January for all schools.  For all three of the enrollment formal reviews, Executive Director of the Charter School Office at the Delaware Department of Education Jennifer Nagourney said “Funding drives academic programs.”  And the schools funding is based on enrollment figures.

Academy of Dover, also in the hot seat for academic reasons definitely has some major financial issues going on.  Like Family Foundations Academy, they are being audited by State Auditor Tom Wagner’s office.  This also explains why the financial part of their performance framework has not been updated on the DOE website since last fall.  The school’s auditor noticed some financial irregularities and it was sent to Wagner’s office.  They couldn’t put anything up while the audit investigation was going on.  Nagourney did share there is a litigation matter going on with the school but she was unable to give any details.  I asked her specifically if the litigation had anything to do with former Head of School Noel Rodriguez resigning last fall, and stated she wasn’t sure of that.  She did state the auditing issues began an the same time Rodriguez resigned.  I’m sure there is much more to the story about Academy of Dover than what we are hearing, and I’ve already put some feelers out there.

Academia Antonia Alonso was taken off probation status, Odyssey Charter is complying with their required meeting with the Public Integrity Commission and will meet with them later this month, and Family Foundations Academy submitted their first monthly report to the charter school office as a condition of their probation status given by the State Board of Education last month.

After the meeting, I spoke with Nagourney and David Blowman, the Deputy Secretary of Education, along with Matthew Albright of the News Journal, Avi Wolfman-Arent with Newsworks/WHYY and Larry Nagengast with WDDE for a q and a on these issues.  The big question which the DOE was not able to answer was why these enrollment figures are so low.  The question was asked if the charter market in Wilmington is saturated.  but the fact that two other charters opening next fall makes this a difficult issue.  Blowman explained that a change in enrollment deadlines coupled with a first count of funding based on enrollment figures based on a 5/1 count seems to be causing problems this year.  When asked by Wolfman-Arent about any “ghost” schools, where an approved charter never opened due to low enrollment, Blowman and Nagourney did not know of any.

And yes, I was shocked to be invited to this impromptu media gathering!

Prestige Academy: Formal Review for Enrollment & Academic, Academy of Dover: Academic & Financial, Freire & DE Design Lab: Low Enrollment

The four Delaware charter schools being considered for formal review have a multitude of reasons for this potential designation.  Prestige, Freire and Delaware Design Lab all had very low enrollment figures by the April 1st deadline.  Prestige had 59%, Freire had 35%, and Delaware Design Lab had 46%.  Prestige Academy is also under the hot seat for academic performance.  Academy of Dover is in trouble because of both financial reasons and academic performance.  From the Delaware State Board of Education Agenda for tomorrow’s board meeting:

Details

The Department of Education will request the Assent of the State Board of Education to place the following charter schools on formal review

Academy of Dover:
The issues for the formal review include concerns relative to compliance with their charter, financial management, financial oversight, and academic performance.

The Secretary will announce his decision, and if necessary, will seek the assent of the State Board of Education to place the charter school on formal review. If the State Board assents, the formal review will be referred to the Charter School Accountability Committee for review and report.


Delaware Design Lab High School:
As of the April 1 enrollment deadline, the charter school had enrolled only 137 out of 300 students, or 46% of the approved enrollment. The issues for the formal review include concerns relative to compliance with their charter and financial viability.
The Secretary will announce his decision, and if necessary, will seek the assent of the State Board of Education to place the charter school on formal review.   If the State Board assents, the formal review will be referred to the Charter School Accountability Committee for review and report.

Freire Charter School:
As of the April 1 enrollment deadline, the charter school had enrolled only 78 out of 224 students, or 35% of the approved enrollment.  The issues for the formal review include concerns relative to compliance with their charter and financial viability.
The Secretary will announce his decision, and if necessary, will seek the assent of the State Board of Education to place the charter school on formal review.   If the State Board consents, the formal review will be referred to the Charter School Accountability Committee for review and report.

Prestige Academy:
As of the April 1 enrollment deadline, the charter school had enrolled only 186 out of 315 students, or 59% of the approved enrollment. The issues for the formal review include concerns relative to compliance with their charter, financial viability, and academic performance.
The Secretary will announce his decision, and if necessary, will seek the assent of the State Board of Education to place the charter school on formal review.  If the State Board assents, the formal review will be referred to the Charter School Accountability Committee for review and report.

The Probationary status of: Academia Antonia Alonso – All conditions have been met, and the school has demonstrated financial viability.

The Secretary will announce his decision, and if necessary, will seek the assent of the State Board of Education to discharge the charter from probation.   If the State Board assents, the charter school will be removed from probationary status and restored to good standing. 

Prestige Academy, Freire, DE Design Lab, and Academy of Dover All Getting Formal Review

On the agenda for the Delaware State Board of Education meeting on Thursday, April 16th, it states under the charter section “Formal Review of a Charter School”.  I was curious which one it was and opened up the tab, and found that four charters are going to be put on formal review.

Details

The Department of Education will request the Assent of the State Board of Education to place the following charter schools on formal review
(Specific Information will be provided by the DOE by 4/14)
  • Academy of Dover
  • Delaware Design Lab High School
  • Freire Charter School 
  • Prestige Academy
The Department of Education will request to remove Academia Antonia Alonso from probationary status

Academy of Dover, Delaware Design Lab, Freire and Prestige Academy are all getting this designation on Thursday.  I imagine DE Design Lab and Freire will go under review for enrollment.  I’m guessing they are not at 80%.  As for Academy of Dover and Prestige Academy, I have some guesses.  Academy of Dover had some financial problems last fall when Head of School Noel Rodriguez “resigned”.  The DOE still does not have the financial part of the school’s performance framework on their website, over six months later.  Prestige Academy had their December board meeting at a restaurant/tavern and their website is a mess.  It would seem very late in the year for these schools to go under formal review for academics.  Anyone out there know anything specific?

The Delaware DOE website has no mention of this, probably because the State Board of Education meeting would be the official announcement, but their notes do say information will be forthcoming tomorrow.