Highlights From The January State Board of Education Meeting

Aside from the controversial Special Education Strategic Plan presentation and Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security going under formal review, what else happened at the January State Board of Education meeting?  This is what goes out to legislators and all those important education folks in the state!

January State Board Meeting Highlights

The State Board of Education held its Regular Monthly Board Meeting on Thursday, January 18, 2018 at 5:00 p.m.

All materials and presentations from the meeting can be accessed on the online meeting platform posted within each month’s agenda as posted on our website (www.destateboarded.k12.de.us ).

  • Here is a direct link to the agenda complete with links and attached documents related to presentations and other items before the Board:  SBE Monthly Meeting Agenda

The audio recording from the meeting is now posted on the State Board website.  An index of the recording with live links by section is copied below.

 

·         Board President, Dr. Dennis Loftus,  discussed his attendance at the Governor’s State of the State address earlier in the day and provided a recap of the key points involving education.  The Executive Director presented her report which included discussion of the latest publication by NASBE which focuses on Early Learning. A link to the publication as well as a few other articles regarding accountability plans across all 50 states according to ESSA plans and an interesting approach to chronic absenteeism. Her posted report called “News Updates and Information” is provided monthly.  There will soon be a link added to the home page for easier access to these reports and local and national articles related to education issues which are provided for review by the Board and public. Ms. Johnson then updated the Board on the work related to the Literacy Campaign and highlighted the upcoming meetings for the steering committee and subcommittees of the Campaign for Grade Level Reading.

·         Secretary Bunting provided a comprehensive report to the Board which included details about several school visits and opportunities to engage with members of the business community and other policy leaders,  meetings with school administrators, educators, and students in which she had been involved throughout the month.  These visits included meeting with the School District Consolidation Task Force Academic and Student Needs Committee where they discussed the state’s EL Strategic Plan. She also had the opportunity to recognize the outstanding achievement of 4 schools for Continued Excellence and identified 15 as Recognition Schools. Recognition Schools receive a banner to display in their school as well as $8,000 to further advance learning at their schools. She highlighted her involvement at the P-20 Council, Governor’s Cabinet meeting, Family Service Council, and the G.E.A.R meeting.

·         The Board received a presentation from the 2018 DE State Teacher of the Year, Virginia Forcucci.  Following her presentation and discussion with the Board they honored her with the SBE Award of Excellence.

·         The Board received a presentation on the Special Education Strategic Plan from the co-chairs of the Special Education Strategic Plan Advisory Council, Dr. Michele Marinucci and Bill Doolittle. Board members discussed the development of the plan and asked questions regarding the goals and metrics within the plan. Additional information and resources from the presentation were provided on the agenda page for this item.

·         Department Regulations

o    Regulation 925: Children with Disabilities Subpart D, Evaluations, Eligibility Determination, Individualized Education Programs  was presented for final action.  There was discussion regarding the comments received from the GACEC and Statewide Disabilities Council as well as the fact that this change was only addressing one aspect of the regulation to align with federal requirements.  The Board was informed that a broader group of stakeholders are currently working on revisions to further update the rest of the regulation and that this regulation may be before them again with more comprehensive changes in the near future. A motion to approve the regulation as presented for final order was made by Mrs. Rutt and seconded by Dr. Whittaker. The motion passed unanimously by voice vote with one abstention (Mr. Rushdan, who was just confirmed to the Board the prior day and not a part of the prior month’s discussion of the regulation).

o   Regulation 501: State Content standards  was presented for final action. The amendments included the addition of statewide K-12 Financial Literacy and Computer Science standards.  The public comment received as well as feedback received through the community engagement sessions held by the Department was shared with the Board. There was discussion regarding the date in regulation for adoption and how that was different from the full implementation date of these standards to be integrated and aligned with curriculum.  It was explained that the date in regulation is the date that the standards would officially become the state content standards and that the implementation of those standards into professional development for teachers and integrated and aligned with curriculum would follow a similar timeline trajectory has was used for the Next Generation Science standards.  A motion to approve the regulation as presented for final order was made by Mr. Heffernan and seconded by Mrs. Rutt. The motion passed unanimously by voice vote with one abstention (Mr. Rushdan, who was just confirmed to the Board the prior day and not a part of the prior month’s discussion of the regulation).

o   Following the approval of Regulation 501, the Board took a moment to thank Mr. Michael Watson, Chief Academic Officer, for his many contributions to improving education for children in the state of Delaware.  It had been announced the prior month that this would be his final State Board meeting before leaving the department.  The Board recognized him for his service and awarded him the State Board’s Award of Excellence.

o   Regulation 1008 DIAA Junior High and Middle School Interscholastic Athletics and Regulation 1009 DIAA High School Interscholastic Athletics were presented to the Board for discussion.  These regulations are out for comment during the month of January and will be back before the Board in February for final action.  The DIAA Executive Director and legal counsel addressed questions from the Board members regarding the proposed changes which dealt with Officials organizations and Foreign Exchange and International Students’ eligibility.

·         The Board received public comment from two individuals commending them on the decision to approve regulation 501 and adopt statewide Computer Science standards for Delaware.

·         John Carwell, from the Charter School Office, presented the Department’s request to place Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security on formal review.

o   At the December 18, 2014 meeting of the State Board of Education, the charter for DAPSS was renewed with the following conditions:

§  1. The school shall attain a rating of “Meets Standard” on the Academic Framework for the 2014-15 school year; and

§  2. The school shall attain a rating of “Meets Standard” on the Financial Framework for the 2014-15 school year.

o   In SY 2014/2015 Delaware implemented a new system of accountability known as the Delaware School Success Framework (DSSF) and was permitted by the U.S. Department of Education to use this school year as the year from which to measure academic achievement and progress.  Due to this waiver, DAPSS was provided an additional year to satisfy its conditions.

o   In SY 2015/2016, Delaware changed the academic assessment for high schools from Smarter Balanced to SAT.  Due to this change in academic assessment, DAPSS was provided an additional year to satisfy its conditions.

o   In SY 2016/2017, DAPSS failed to meet academic standards in three of the four DSSF metrics and showed a decline in both academic achievement and academic growth.

o   As for financial standards, in SY 2014/2015, SY 2015/2016, and SY 2016/2017, DAPSS failed to meet financial standards.

o   In 2015-2016, DAPSS was approved for a modification to decrease enrollment.  Despite this decrease, the school did not meet the 80% requirement for enrollment by May 1st for SY 2017-2018 enrolling only 77% of its projected population.   As of September 30, 2017, DAPSS enrolled 228 of their projected 340 students or 67% of their approved enrollment.   Since September 30, 2017, DAPSS’s enrollment has again declined.  The school currently has 217 students enrolled.

o   This is the third year that the school has shown a decline in enrollment going from 303 students in SY 2015/2016 to 217 students SY2017/2018.  With a 2018 graduating class of 47 students, 49 choice applications, and one withdrawal at the time of this report, it is doubtful that DAPSS will meet the Financial Framework standard this school year.

o   After considering these potential violations of its charter, the Department as approving authority, has determined that DAPSS should be submitted to formal review to determine whether the school is violating its charter and whether there are grounds for remedial measures.  The Department is seeking the assent of the Secretary and the State Board for this action.

·         The Secretary of Education following this outline of performance and concerns regarding the compliance with their charter stated, “Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security appears to have failed to meet the conditions of its charter renewal and should have the opportunity for a rigorous review of the school performance. Therefore, as Secretary of Education, I assent to placing Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security on formal review.   In accordance with 14 Delaware Code Section 511(c), I seek the assent of the State Board of Education to the decision to place Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security on formal review.”

·         Dr. Loftus asked for a motion to assent to the formal review of the charter for Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security.  The motion was made by Mrs. Sorenson and seconded by Mr. Heffernan.  After discussion of the Board which involved discussing the process that is included during formal review the motion passed unanimously by voice vote.

·         The charter office also provided in its monthly update, which was posted on the SBE website for information a timeline for the review of the new application received to open a new charter school in Sussex county called Sussex Montessori as well as the major modification requested for Design Lab HS. The links to all of these were provided in the agenda item online.

·         The Professional Standards Board  had no items to bring before the SBE this month since their January meeting was cancelled due to snow.

·         The Board had no one signed up for general public comment

·         The Board received an update from its Deputy Attorney General  regarding two appeal requests that have had their hearing and are currently in the time window in which either party is able to submit responses to the hearing officer’s recommendation. Both of those appeals will come before the Board for action at the February meeting.

The next regular monthly meeting of the State Board is scheduled for

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The meeting will begin at 4:00 p.m. and the Board will enter Executive Session to discuss two disciplinary appeals and then will return to general session at 5:00pm 

January 18, 2018 – Delaware State Board of Education Audio Recordings

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Pat Heffernan Is The Biggest Jerk In Delaware!

I’ve seen a lot in Delaware education over the past four years.  I’ve seen people say some very brilliant things and I’ve heard very stupid things.  I’ve seen the full range of human emotion, from happy to sad, from angry to depressed.  But what I heard today made me feel many negative things like never before.  How someone could be so blind to reality yet be in such a position of power is beyond my comprehension.  Who is this person? Continue reading “Pat Heffernan Is The Biggest Jerk In Delaware!”

State Board Of Ed Puts DE Academy of Public Safety & Security On Formal Review

Last night, the Delaware State Board of Education unanimously put Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security on formal review for academic and financial reasons.  The 6-0 vote puts the New Castle charter school through a two-month review period where they have to meet with the Charter School Accountability Committee and go through public hearings.  The placement of a charter school to formal review status does not mean they are being shut down.  Putting a school under formal review is the process.  Any decision to leave a school open or shut it down takes place after a formal review and the findings that come out of that.

I knew their enrollment was low but that isn’t the only reason they went under the formal review knife.  Academics played a big part.  This is always tough for me to support because I loathe the use of standardized testing in punishing any school.  With DAPSS, they went from Smarter Balanced to the SAT in a two-year period.  In 2015, the SAT was remade to include Common Core.

Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting will make her recommendation to the State Board of Education at their March 15th meeting and then the State Board votes on that recommendation.  The letter from Secretary Bunting notifying the school of their formal review status, the timeline, and their performance matrices for each category are included below.

Either the Charter School Office was ready for the State Board to vote for the formal review or they are able to predict the future, because the below PDF was created at 1pm yesterday, four hours before the State Board of Education began their meeting!  I would have to say the school’s founder, Charlie Copeland, is not happy about this!

Carney Cremates Christina

If you thought the arrow Delaware Governor John Carney shot through Christina School District’s heart was bad, you haven’t seen anything yet!  Plans are afoot.  And what will be left standing after Carney does his coup d’état will shock everyone! Continue reading “Carney Cremates Christina”

Wali Rushdan Gets Senate Approval For State Board of Education AND Explains His Time At Family Foundations

After a crucial Senate Executive Committee hearing, Wali Rushdan was given a unanimous Senate vote for the Delaware State Board of Education about an hour ago.

The Senate Executive Committee met with Rushdan right before the full Senate vote.  I must give props to State Senator Nicole Poore for tackling the elephant in the room.  She just came right out and asked Rushdan about his affiliation with the Family Foundations Academy Board of Directors. Continue reading “Wali Rushdan Gets Senate Approval For State Board of Education AND Explains His Time At Family Foundations”

Wali’s Wax-On Wax-Off State Board Of Education Nomination

Despite what I reported last evening, the Senate Executive Committee is BACK ON TODAY at 3:30pm.  The meeting was canceled but now it is taking place again.  I don’t understand what all the confusion was.  The Senate Executive Committee will discuss Wali Rushdan’s nomination for the State Board of Education.  If it clears the committee, it will most likely go before the full Delaware Senate for a vote shortly after.

Senate Cancels Executive Committee Meeting, Only Item On Agenda Was Wali Rushdan

The Senate Executive Committee canceled their meeting tomorrow.  The only item on the agenda dealt with Governor John Carney’s nomination of Wali Rushdan for the State Board of Education.  The Executive Committee must clear any nominations before the Delaware Senate can vote as a body for that nomination.  No reasons were provided for the cancellation of the meeting.

Things that make you go hmmm…

Wali Rushdan And Sean Moore

Wali Rushdan and Sean Moore.  Friends.  Members of the same fraternity.  Moore, the former Head of School at Family Foundations Academy, convicted of theft and fraud.  Rushdan, a former member of the board at FFA, now nominated for a seat on the State Board of Education.  Moore, in prison.  Rushdan, an attorney at Fox Rothschild.  Moore and Rushdan.  What did Rushdan know about the situation at FFA?  Why has he erased his term on their board from his biography at Fox Rothschild?  Why was his bio redone the SAME day he got the nod from Governor Carney for the board seat with the State Board?  Did Governor Carney bother to check this matter out and ask the appropriate questions?  Who brought forth this nomination to Governor Carney?  Questions that need to be answered.  Questions our Delaware Senate need to ask right away.

 

Called It! Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security Submitted For Formal Review!

Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security is in a very tight spot.  Very low enrollment is causing Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting to request a formal review of the charter school.  The State Board of Education will consider the recommendation at their meeting on Thursday, January 18th.

A formal review in January.  The timing on this is very interesting.  If a charter school doesn’t have 80% of their enrollment by the Spring, they can go on formal review for that.  They should have gone on formal review for low enrollment for a long time.  But when they failed to hit those enrollment numbers in their September 30th count, that can no longer be ignored.

For Delaware charter schools, this school does have a very unique purpose, to promote public safety and security (thus the name).  It is such an exact niche for students.  Perhaps it was a bit too specific.  Enrollment has steadily been going down for years.  It would take a miracle for them to get their enrollment up to at least 80% in the middle of a school year.  Low enrollment causes charters to lose a lot of money to the point where they are no longer financially viable.

This will be the first formal review in two years.  The last was Delaware STEM Academy who never opened due to low enrollment numbers.

 

Wali Rushdan: How He Could Impact Delaware Education & His Ties To A Charter School Fiasco

A new name came forth recently in Delaware education.  I must admit I had never heard of him before.  Or had I?  But who is he and how could he become a voice in Delaware education? Continue reading “Wali Rushdan: How He Could Impact Delaware Education & His Ties To A Charter School Fiasco”

Paul Baumbach On Status Of Potential School Board Member Removal Bill

I reached out to Delaware State Representative Paul Baumbach on the proposed legislation that would remove a school district board member under certain conditions.  I haven’t seen a bill pre-filed so I thought I would ask the sponsor.  This is what he had to say: Continue reading “Paul Baumbach On Status Of Potential School Board Member Removal Bill”

What Is The Purpose Of A Delaware Secretary Of Education?

In one of the most interesting pictures I’ve ever received, it made me question why we even have a Delaware Secretary of Education.  On Tuesday, Atnre Alleyne (the former Delaware Department of Education employee, the co-founder of TeenSharp, and the Director of DelawareCAN) posted a Facebook memory from a year ago.  The interesting part is the picture he put with it because that was NOT in the original post at all. Continue reading “What Is The Purpose Of A Delaware Secretary Of Education?”

17 Who Made An Impact In 2017: J & His Mom

Out of all the articles I’ve written on this blog in three and a half years, none were more intense than the story about a student named J in the Smyrna School District.  It took a considerable amount of time to write the ten part series about what happened to J in the district.  But I wouldn’t trade that time away for a minute.  While the story wound up having a happy ending, it caused a lot of folks in Delaware to take a very close look at student discipline, zero tolerance, and expulsions.

The Smyrna School district has been tough with discipline.  In my opinion, they have used the heavy hand more often than not.  Case in point: the State Board of Education has two more Smyrna appeals coming up.  In looking at their history of appeals the past few years, Smyrna comes up A LOT!  For J, he is doing well at Smyrna High School and is happy to be back in the district.

To read all about what happened with J in case you were living under a rock last summer, here it is:

Prelude

The Smyrna School District Zero Tolerance Pipeline

Smyrna Board Reinstates J

Five Delaware Charters Renewed, One With Major Conditions & Another Didn’t Have A Complete Record

 

Last night at the Delaware State Board of Education meeting, five Delaware charter schools received unanimous approval from board members.  Academia Antonia Alonso, Early College High School, First State Montessori Academy, and Sussex Academy were approved with no conditions.  For Thomas Edison Charter School, that was a different story.  And for another, the State Board did not get a complete record. Continue reading “Five Delaware Charters Renewed, One With Major Conditions & Another Didn’t Have A Complete Record”

A Kind Moment With The President Of The State Board Of Education

I put this on my Facebook account, but I’ll add more here.

Special shout-out to State Board of Education President Dr. Dennis Loftus. On my way back from their board meeting, my car stalled out at a light at a major Dover intersection. I got out to direct traffic until the Dover Police got there. Dr. Loftus came by and asked me if I needed help. Even though I didn’t, I appreciated the gesture, especially to a guy that is very critical of the Board he is on.

In the end, my transmission fluid dipstick somehow came loose which resulted in a loss of transmission fluid. Since this dipstick is buried behind my engine I’m not sure when or how this happened. My car would not move in the drive position when the light turned green. I didn’t know this when Dr. Loftus drove by. Actually the tow truck driver figured that one out. Luckily, $80 for the tow and $36 in transmission fluid solved the problem. Not something I could really afford now, but it is what it is. It could have been a lot worse. Thank you Dr. Loftus for the offer to help on a very cold night after you had just spent the past three and a half hours at a meeting and probably just wanted to get home to your family.  I suspect that if I had taken you up on the help, it would have meant more time unselfishly given.

As I’ve always said, I won’t write about personal lives on this blog and some of the people I write negative things about on my blog are due to their public stances on education.  But make no mistake, these are some of the nicest people in the world.  With that being said, I have never written anything negative about Dr. Loftus.  But I’m sure he knows what I have written about the State Board of Ed and that I often express a desire to see them as elected officials, not Governor appointed.  It is a bizarre world we live in, but tonight, I greatly appreciated an offer.

More Information On The Atrocious School Board Member Removal Bill

Aside from State Rep. Paul Baumbach, I have yet to hear from one person in support of this legislation.  Zero.  Zilch.  Nada.  But in the 24 hours or so since I posted this story, I have had many sidebar conversations with Baumbach, as well as many other crucial conversations. Continue reading “More Information On The Atrocious School Board Member Removal Bill”

State Rep. Paul Baumbach Asking For Ouster With Pending Legislation Allowing State Board of Education To Remove Local School District Board Members

I’ve seen some insane legislation in my day.  This one takes the cake.  State Rep. Paul Baumbach has put forth legislation which would give the State Board of Education the power to remove a sitting school district board member.  Way to take the local out of local control and hand it over to the state there Paul!  Are you kidding me?  I wish this was some horrible joke, but it isn’t.  How would Baumbach feel if some board could take away HIS power?  This guy is begging to be primaried and removed from office.  You can’t even make this stuff up! Continue reading “State Rep. Paul Baumbach Asking For Ouster With Pending Legislation Allowing State Board of Education To Remove Local School District Board Members”

Gregory Coverdale Resigned From The State Board of Education & Other State Board News

The Delaware State Board of Education has a vacancy!  Board member Gregory Coverdale resigned before the November State Board meeting and it was announced by President Dennis Loftus at the meeting.  His term expired prior to that but he decided to continue his seat until a replacement was found.  Coverdale was unable to continue serving due to work commitments.  Chances are good Governor John Carney will wait until the new year to nominate Coverdale’s replacement.  The 149th General Assembly returns in mid-January.

The State Board of Ed has their next meeting on December 14th, at 5pm.  The big news will be the charter school renewal-palooza with five schools awaiting the big decision.  Public comment on those renewals ended today.  Academia Antonia Alonso, Early College High School, First State Montessori Academy, Sussex Academy, and Thomas Edison Charter School are all up for renewal.  Delaware Secretary of Education will announce her recommendation for each school and then the State Board will vote on each school.

Other items on the agenda for the State Board meeting include an update on the State Board’s Literacy Campaign, a presentation on the DPAS Annual Report, a Regulation dealing with matching Delaware state code with Federal Law concerning visually impaired students, a Regulation about Financial Literacy and Computer Science standards, a few Regulations from the Professional Standards Board on teacher licensure, and a couple of information items about appeals between students and the Smyrna School District.

What is NOT on the agenda is Regulation 225.  For those who don’t know, the Regulation received 11,000 comments which will take some time for Secretary Bunting to review.  She did thank all who submitted public comment.  This information appeared on the agenda for the meeting on Thursday concerning Regulation 225:

The public comment period for proposed 225 Prohibition of Discrimination Regulation closed on December 4, 2017. The Department received more than 11,000 comments, which deserve careful review before a decision is made. Secretary Bunting is asking the Development Team to reconvene in January to review the comments and make recommendations for changes to the regulation. If substantive changes are made, the regulation will be published in the Register again with another 30-day public comment period before any decision on a final regulation is made.

Secretary Bunting thanks, those who shared their feedback during the formal comment period. All comments received will be posted online so the public, as well as committee members, can review them prior to the January Development Team meeting.

I expect a full house with the charter renewals so if you plan on attending I would get there early!  Good luck to Greg Coverdale in his future endeavors!

17 Who Had An Impact In 2017: State Rep. Rich Collins

The first time I heard anyone going off about what eventually became Regulation 225 was State Rep. Rich Collins. A couple of months ago, the Republican State Rep. from the 41st district lashed out against the Delaware Department of Education over the draft for the regulation. He did not like that parental rights were seemingly violated in this gender identity discrimination regulation.  Which started off more controversy in Delaware than I’ve seen in a long time. It probably got more response than opt out did. Which I find to be a crying shame cause I think, in the long run, that is a much more important issue. But I’m biased like that. Not ashamed to admit it. But I digress…

Collins fired the shot heard around Delaware. From there, the regulation continued to find many who opposed it. The final day for public comment on it was today, at 4pm. It is now in the hands of Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting. Will she approve it? Disapprove it? We will find out soon. Perhaps as early as December 14th, the next State Board of Education meeting. I would guess she will hold onto it for a little while. Or maybe Carney just wants it over as soon as possible, one way or another.

The part about Collins’ role in all this was he isn’t a state rep I’ve found to get involved in many education-related things. I guess this one hit home for him in his neck of the woods.

Academia Antonia Alonso, Early College H.S., First State Montessori, Sussex Academy and Thomas Edison All Get Renewal Recommendations But One Has Serious Conditions

All five of the Delaware charter schools have received renewal recommendations from the Charter School Accountability Committee (CSAC). The State Board of Education will decide if they agree at their December 14th meeting. Anyone wishing to submit formal public comment must do so by December 8th. Everything looks good for these charters except for one of them. Which one? Continue reading “Academia Antonia Alonso, Early College H.S., First State Montessori, Sussex Academy and Thomas Edison All Get Renewal Recommendations But One Has Serious Conditions”