If The Delaware General Election Were Held Today… Take The Polls!

One Month Until The Delaware Primary! Your Guide To The Candidates!

The Delaware Primary election is one month away!  And there are plenty of statewide and district races for Delaware citizens to vote on.  I would go so far as to say the Primary is just as important as the General Election this year.  The heat is on! Continue reading

Auditor Forum: Davies Shines, McGuiness Blunders, & Williams Rants

Last night, the Kent County Democratic Committee hosted a forum for the Democrat candidates for State Auditor at the Kent County Levy Court in Dover.  The well-attended debate was clearly won by candidate Kathleen Davies. Continue reading

DSEA Endorses Kathleen Davies For State Auditor

Kathleen Davies received the crown jewel of endorsements today when the Delaware State Education Association endorsed her!

Kathleen Davies has the experience needed to get done the critical work of the State Auditor’s office. With more than 25 years of auditing and accounting experience, Kathleen is the most qualified candidate with the skills needed to serve as a strong watchdog for Delaware’s taxpayers. DSEA members want an auditor who is going to hold state agencies and school districts accountable for taxpayer dollars. We enthusiastically recommend Kathleen for State Auditor and believe she’s the best choice for voters to make on September 6th.

This just adds to Davies’ growing list of endorsements and accomplishments in this race!  On September 6th, vote Kathleen Davies!  There are things going on in this state as I write this that will demand someone with the full capacity and knowledge to do this job.  That is Kathleen Davies.  We need her now more than ever!

Kowalko Endorses Kathleen Davies For State Auditor

Delaware Representative John Kowalko issued the following statement this afternoon:

It is not often that I choose to make an endorsement in a primary election, but sometimes a candidate stands out from the rest and earns my recognition and support. An individual of impeccable integrity, experience and intelligence best describes Kathleen Davies. Ms. Davies stands above the others in my opinion and will administer the affairs and responsibilities of the Auditor’s office with an exceptional consideration for fairness and honesty.

I am proud to endorse Kathleen Davies as the Democratic candidate for the office of State Auditor. Kathleen Davies has more than 25 years’ experience in state auditing with six years as the second-in-command at the Office of Auditor of Accounts. Davies has the expertise to perform independent evaluations of state funded programs. She will work to identify recommendations for process improvements including work to support quality education and to provide recommendations to advance public health and human services. Davies has the qualifications, experience, and commitment to providing transparent public reporting and fiscal accountability.

Representative John Kowalko

I couldn’t agree more Rep. Kowalko!  There is only one choice for State Auditor in both the Primary AND the General Election, and that is Kathleen Davies!  To see what Davies is all about, please go to her campaign website.

OMG! Electing Kathy McGuiness As State Auditor Would Be Like Putting A TFA Teacher As Secretary Of Education! Don’t Do It!

I just caught part of the Delaware United forum with the candidates for State Auditor and Attorney General.  I heard Kathleen McGuiness babbling about her qualifications.  She is NOT a certified accountant.  She took some crash course in NY last year to be a “fraud investigator”.  She is a pharmacist and a realtor.  This would be like putting a crash-course Teach For America teacher as Secretary of Education.  She is NOWHERE close to being qualified.

I understand the Speaker of the House, Pete Schwartzkopf, wants her.  As well as other legislators who seem to think she would be the best.  They aren’t basing that decision on any amount of qualification for the office but because Pete wants her.  Because they are friends.  It is Delaware politics at its worst!

For this office, we need someone who is qualified.  We could argue whether that would be Kathleen Davies or Dennis Williams.  For my money, I’m going with Davies.  She worked in the Auditor’s office.  She knows exactly what to do and how to do it.  There would not be a “learning curve” that McGuiness would stumble through.  Williams tends to tick off a lot of people.  I agree the Auditor’s office should be independent of political party.  But Williams already has a ton of burnt bridges which would not be helpful in getting things done.

Yes, there is a cloud with Davies.  Why was she put on leave by Tom Wagner?  I still firmly believe that was due to someone wanting her to shut up.  I have never bought the bogus News Journal article from 2016 suggesting she was inappropriately reimbursing herself for travel expenses.  I believe whatever happened was cooked up, kind of like McGuiness’ auditor campaign over the past year.  I believe we will find out in due time what happened and I also believe it will come out that something was cooked up.  Davies for State Auditor by a landslide!

If you really want to learn about Kathy McGuiness, just Google “Kathy McGuiness” and “Delaware Liberal” to get the scoop.  There is plenty of stuff in there to keep you reading for hours!

** UPDATED ** 7/10/2018, 11:38am ** Delaware Election 2018: Who Filed For State Rep, State Senator, AG, State Auditor, State Treasurer, U.S. Senator & U.S. Representative

This is a list of the FINAL candidates for both the Delaware Primary and the Delawware General Election.  I will be coming out with endorsements in the next few weeks.

Election Day 2018 is four months away.  The Primary is in two months.  Candidates have until this Friday, the 13th, to withdraw and get their filing fee back.

For each elected position, if it is in red it is currently Republican, and blue for Democrat.  If there is more than one person in the same color for each position, that means there will be a primary for that party on Thursday, September 6th.  Winner goes onto the General Election.  If they are unopposed, they won and can sit back while the rest have two more months of campaigning!.  If it is crossed out, that means a candidate dropped out of the race.  Every single seat or position has someone running for it at this point.

Dates to know:

7/10/18: Last date to file for major parties

9/6/18: Delaware Primary

11/6/18: Delaware General Election

Last updated: 7/10/2018, 11:38am

Continue reading

Will Academy Of Dover Survive Charter Renewal?

The Academy of Dover is going through the very laborious charter renewal process with the Delaware Department of Education.  On April 30th, the DOE gave the school their renewal report and AoD had 16 days to respond.  The school had a rough couple years.  Between a very damaging state auditor report on their former head of school embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars, low high-stakes testing scores, a very large settlement with a former management company, and compliance issues, they have had their hands full.  The former assistant principal now leads the school.  A former principal from Town Pointe Elementary School in Capital School District runs the curriculum now.  The board has shifted and received training in areas that caused some of the problems.  Will it be enough?

This charter renewal comes at an interesting time.  The 2014-2015 school year was the first year Smarter Balanced came into play.  As such, the scores from that year don’t really count, but the DOE is using the ratings from the Delaware School Success Framework as a substitute for their Academic Framework.  Let me say from the start, I feel bad for charter schools in the respect that the state assessment plays such a large part in anything going on with the DOE.  AoD has a large population of low-income and minority students who typically fare worse on these tests than other schools.

Other factors that could affect their renewal involve Noel Rodriguez, their local school district, and the scores from the 2015-2016 SBAC.  The former Head of School, Noel Rodriguez, will face charges at some point.  I know of at least one other Delaware charter where the Attorney General’s office recently issued subpoenas about their own similar issues.  Yet another Delaware charter had their board file for insurance claims due to embezzlement at their own school from former leaders.  So something is coming which will put the school in the spotlight when Rodriguez faces charges.  However, this issue already came up in their 2015 formal review and they were not shut down for it then so the DOE should not put them under the same scrutiny twice.

Capital School District, under the new leadership of Superintendent Dr. Dan Shelton, is looking at their own district with their Strategic Plan.  What comes out of that, to improve the district, could affect AoD in the long run in terms of enrollment.  But it should have no bearing on their renewal process.

The scores from the recent Smarter Balanced Assessment for the school will not play into their academic framework since it is not a part of the renewal report, but the impression could taint the process.  Once again, I will stress my opinion these should not even factor into their charter renewal, but the DOE and I do not agree on this point.

I will admit I have softened my stance on Delaware charter schools a bit.  My own experience with them tainted my view a bit.  I still don’t agree with some of their very discriminatory practices up in Wilmington and the only one in Sussex County.  But I believe they are just as much a victim as traditional school districts are with the DOE in terms of very bad regulations, mandates, and accountability.  Academy of Dover and I had a frosty relationship in the past, but that has warmed up a bit in recent months.  Many of the complaints against most charter schools are a result of politics and tainted legislation by people in Dover who should really know better.   I believe the Delaware Charter Schools Network adds immensely to the perceptions against charters.  With that caveat, Academy of Dover has a former State Representative on their board who does carry a bit of clout in Kent County so politics can play a part to help the school.

Many of the issues with Academy of Dover are well-known by the DOE and have come up before in formal reviews.  There really aren’t any new complaints which suggests the school has fixed many of the issues since Noel Rodriguez left.  No school is perfect, but Academy of Dover seems to have turned a lot around in the past year and a half.  Rodriguez controlled the school and left a considerable amount of damage in his wake.

My one concern in the below response from the school is this 11 week Smarter Balanced Boot Camp after school for struggling students.  In this era of high-stakes accountability, schools are under the gun for kids to do well on these tests.  But they can go overboard with this effort.  Calling anything a boot camp with education is a bad idea in my opinion.  It suggests a dire need for these kids to do well on these tests regardless of the cost.  The sooner we can get schools to stop giving in to this very bad proficiency environment, the better things will be in the long run.  It gives the Delaware DOE all the power.  But I also don’t run a school with that kind of pressure thrust upon me so it is easy for me to say that.

I know the school had special education issues in the past, but we won’t know until June how they may have improved.  That is when the DOE issues their special education compliance annual reports.  However, those are usually about three years behind and would reflect the height of the Noel Rodriguez era so that should be taken into consideration as well.  Special education is a hot mess in Delaware overall.  There seems to be a mass amount of confusion between Response to Intervention and true special education.  This is an ongoing issue that will only get worse if we stay in this high-stakes accountability environment.

Dr. Steven Godowsky, the Delaware Secretary of Education will issue his final recommendation to the State Board of Education at their December 15th board meeting where they will vote on Academy of Dover’s charter renewal.

Below is the charter renewal report from the Delaware DOE and Academy of Dover’s response:

 

 

Providence Creek Academy’s Official Response To The Auditor’s Report

Providence Creek Academy wrote an official response to the Delaware Auditor of Account’s investigative report on their school finances which showed outright theft of school funds through purchase cards and the payroll system.  This appeared on the Providence Creek Academy Facebook page today at 7:32pm.

The Board of Providence Creek Academy Charter School wishes to address the January 27, 2016 Inspection Report issued by the State of Delaware Office of Auditor of Accounts, and to clarify information misstated in media accounts of the Inspection Report. At the end of 2014, the Board became aware of potential financial improprieties during the process of terminating an employee in charge of finances for Providence Creek Academy. The Board promptly engaged its outside auditor to evaluate the matter. The Board also self-reported its concerns to the State for it to conduct an independent audit. To the extent media reports suggest the Board was not proactive in addressing these issues once they came to the Board’s attention, or that such issues were only brought to the State’s attention through an anonymous tipster, that is inaccurate. At all times, the Board fully cooperated and worked with the auditors to identify problem areas so that appropriate remedial measures and safeguards could be enacted. The Inspection Report identifies no concerns after December 2014, which makes evident the Board’s commitment to having in place the right personnel, policies, and procedures for handling the finances of Providence Creek Academy.

The comments after this, including ones from myself, are going unanswered… for now…

*Updated 1/28/16: I took out the picture in this post.  I understand the “duct tape the teacher to the wall” picture stemmed from a charity event at the school.  I think it is hysterical and it is a classic picture!  As well, I am also taking out other posts from their Facebook page since they don’t really relate to the auditor matter.  I apologize for any staff members who may have been offended at the school.  My intention was not to offend.

Thomas Edison Charter School DEFINITELY Under Investigation By State Auditor

As I trolled through charter school minutes throughout the day, in-between working on another project, and reading with my son, I got to the last one, Thomas Edison Charter School.  Lo and behold, Thomas Edison is under investigation by the Delaware State Auditor.  While it doesn’t give specifics and why they are being investigated, their July 2015 board minutes give no illusion about this matter.  I first reported this in the Spring, and some folks said I am reading too much into it.  Thank you, I know the difference between an investigative audit and a regular audit.

State Audit Update

Auditors are coming to the school during the week of 07/27/15 to begin the audit.  The auditors are requesting the Board meeting be moved back one week to allow them to meet State deadlines and to report findings to the Board.  The Board did not have an objection to the request.

Back in May, the State Auditor’s office revealed during a House Education Committee meeting on House Bill 186 that seven Delaware charters were under investigation, and they were not light matters.  We already knew about Family Foundations Academy and Academy of Dover.  I soon found out, once again based on board minutes, that Providence Creek Academy was another.  And then in June, I discovered two possible other schools: Thomas Edison and Odyssey Charter School.  The State Auditor’s office isn’t able to verify this information.  While I still haven’t been able to confirm Odyssey, Thomas Edison is definitely number four.  The first three were for financial abuse, involving procurement (purchase) cards and actually opening accounts under the school’s name for personal use.  What has Thomas Edison done to incur this inspection?  I’m sure we will find out soon enough.

Once again, what is the DOE doing about this?  I have yet to hear of any action being taken on Providence Creek Academy and Thomas Edison, even though it is now public knowledge.  Both Academy of Dover and FFA were put on formal review in part due to these kinds of things.  And who are the other three charters?  The wheels on the bus go round and round…

To read the actual board minutes from Thomas Edison’s July meeting, look below:

What Is The Legal Definition Of A Charter School In Delaware?

Is a charter school a corporation?  I’ve heard this question asked by many people in recent years, and the answer is yes.  They are definitely a corporation under legal terms in Delaware.  But they are accountable to the State of Delaware and their issuing authority agent.  For most charters, this is the Delaware Department of Education.  Only three charters in the state are accountable to their authorizing school district, Red Clay Consolidated: Charter School of Wilmington, Delaware Military Academy and Delaware College Prep.

But how does it all work?  This report from the Delaware Auditor of Account’s office gives crystal clear information in legal terms about what a charter school’s responsibilities and obligations are as a corporation.

House Bill 186, Charter School Post-Audit With State Auditor Legislation, Passes Delaware House!

Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams just presented House Bill 186 to the full Delaware House of Representatives, and it passed the House in a 23-17-1 vote.  Every single Delaware House Republican voted no on the bill, along with Earl Jaques.

Rep. Daniel Short brought Academy of Dover’s independent auditor Ms. Baker to testify against the bill, but she gave no compelling reason why the bill shouldn’t pass.  When Rep. Williams asked her how long she has audited Academy of Dover, she couldn’t answer.  Williams asked: one, two, three years?  She still couldn’t answer.

After some back and forth about “interrogating” the witness, backed up by Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, the bill went to a roll call.  All the Republicans voted no, along with Democrats Earl Jaques and Schwartzkopf.  The bill still has to go through the Senate Education Committee, unless the rules are suspended, and it is allowed to go to a vote with the Senate tonight.  The Senate has yet to put their agenda up for tonight’s last day in this legislative session…

I guess Republicans are dead set against charter schools being held accountable.  Not sure why they are on the side of the Delaware Charter Schools Network.  This will be very interesting going forward…