State Board of Education Unanimously Votes To Put Odyssey Charter School On Probation

In a unanimous vote, the Delaware State Board of Education placed Odyssey Charter School on probation until June 30th, 2020.  The main takeaway of their probation conditions is removing AHEPA control of their Board of Directors.  This includes all organizations associated with AHEPA as outlined in the below Delaware Department of Education press release based on Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting’s recommendations.

State Board of Education Vice-President Dr. Audrey Noble gave an impassioned speech prior to the vote urging the entire Odyssey Community, including AHEPA, to come together and become unified for the benefit of the school.  She also said she read every single public comment and urged those who supported AHEPAn control of the board to realize their voice was heard but wants the community to come together whether AHEPA has control or not.

Head of School Denise Parks and Board President Josiah Wolcott gave public comment after the vote expressing their thoughts on what a fantastic school Odyssey is.  Wolcott said their board will put together a committee to review the probation clauses.  But the public comment by board member Tami Soltow expressed immense gratitude to the State Board for their decision.  She thanked the board for holding the board accountable and said the students of Odyssey are the most important.

Secretary of Education Susan Bunting today placed Odyssey Charter School on probation until June 30, 2020, allowing the school to remain open only if the school’s board makes changes and recovers funds spent inappropriately, among other changes.

Last month the Delaware Department of Education’s Charter School Accountability Committee (CSAC) recommended placing Odyssey Charter School on probation, requiring conditions be met for the school to retain its charter. Bunting reviewed the committee’s reports, the school’s responses, transcripts of two public hearings and the submitted public comments before making her decision. The State Board of Education assented to her decision in a unanimous vote.

The school has until December to make substantial progress on the conditions, a timeline that is in line with the school’s charter renewal application that begins this fall. Conditions may be included as part of a charter renewal.

Odyssey Charter School was placed on formal review this spring due to governance issues. Tonight, Bunting placed the school’s charter on probation with the following conditions:

-Odyssey’s board revise its bylaws such that

o The majority of members are not members of the AHEPA Family organizations.

o A nominating committee consisting of only the non-AHEPA Family board members nominates potential future non-AHEPA Family board members for the non-AHEPA Family board member vacancies and appoints them through a fair and transparent nomination/selection process.

o AHEPA Family may select its members in its own process that may or may not be open to the public and may or may not include individuals who are not members of AHEPA Family organizations, but AHEPA Family members must be appointed by the AHEPA Family in a manner that provides gender balance among AHEPA Family members.

o Odyssey board officer positions will be annually nominated from the floor; any Odyssey board member will be eligible to be an officer, and each board member has the equal right to nominate and vote for officers unless recused due to conflict of interest.

o A process will be established to nominate and elect from the board each year a vice-president/president-elect who serves one year and serves automatically as president the next.

o The office of president will annually rotate between AHEPA Family and non-AHEPA Family.

o Committee members and committee chairs will be selected and approved by the board in a fair and transparent process, and members/chairs will be reconfirmed at least annually by the board.

o Any authority previously granted under current Article V (Contracts, Checks, Deposits and Funds) Section 1 (Contracts) will be revoked/nullified, and the reconstituted board may grant new authorization if needed.

o The procedure to amend the bylaws will contain a provision to introduce the amendment and vote on the amendment in two separate meetings of the board on different days at least 14 calendar days apart.

o Proposed amendments will be publicized among the Odyssey board, staff and families in writing at least seven days prior to introduction or voting.

o Out-of-state travel funded fully or partially using Odyssey funds, whether directly paid by Odyssey or reimbursed with funds under Odyssey control, will be approved by the board prior to travel.

o As a result of the conflict of interest provisions, AHEPA Family members will be explicitly required to recuse themselves from matters directly impacting AHEPA Family organizations.

-Odyssey Charter School shall recover the following sums spent in a manner inconsistent with the charter:

o $1,597.59 for the AHEPA Conference in Atlantic City, NJ paid out of Odyssey funds

o $91,487.69 used to establish and operate the Ithaka corporation from Odyssey funds

-Odyssey will undergo an investigatory audit with scope of work approved by the Delaware Department of Education and the Auditor of Accounts Office at Odyssey’s expense with any findings to be repaid as recommended by the Auditor of Accounts. The firm must be independent of the auditing firm that does the annual audit of the school and the audit must be complete by January 1, 2020.

-Odyssey will develop a plan for how to improve communication and trust between the board and the Odyssey community, including staff and families.

– Odyssey will develop a plan to strengthen the capacity of its Citizens’ Budget Oversight Committee and increase its access to information.

-Odyssey board representatives and DOE representatives will meet at least once a month to discuss
and evaluate progress toward meeting these conditions with jointly written reports sent to the Secretary and State Board.

Odyssey Charter School is a 1,800-student school that serves students in elementary through high school. It is located on Lancaster Pike in Wilmington.

Find more information, including all related documents, on Odyssey’s formal review here.

Alison May
alison.may@doe.k12.de.us
(302) 735-4006
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Poll: What Will Happen With Odyssey Charter School Tonight?

AHEPA Member Harasses Odyssey Whistle Blower Over Formal Review, Today Last Day For Public Comment

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At the final Public Hearing for Odyssey Charter School’s formal review, public comment was given by Jennifer Ballas indicating a prominent member of the AHEPA organization publicly harassed her at Odyssey’s last public board meeting after she spoke out against AHEPA.

After I spoke at the last public board meeting, I was attacked by AHEPA member who threatened and tried to intimidate me, and things that Mr. Manny Kanas, who used to be AHEPA Board President, said, I was a loud mouth, disrespectful, rude piece of useless flesh that is a total puppet to Dr. Nick.  He told me I was stupid.  And he wanted me to go away.  And that the cat had my tongue, even though I did not have the time to quickly respond to him.  And that scorned women are the worst.

It can be tough to be a whistle blower.  You put yourself in the direct path of those who don’t like change.  Who don’t like the truth coming out.  This Manny Kanas person who used his bully pulpit in an attempt to humiliate and intimidate a woman who is devoted to the success of children at Odyssey, is a coward.  A pathetic man who is clearly all about control and holding onto a relic of the past that is not welcome in the 21st Century.  I have nothing against the concept of AHEPA.  I don’t have any issue with any group or culture formed to promote education.  What I do take issue is what the Wilmington chapter of this organization has become.  And their treatment of women is deplorable.

Even former DSEA President Mike Matthews gave public comment at the public hearing.

And the fact that so many have gotten up here tonight and said without the AHEPA majority, the school will fail, you just told those hundreds of teachers at that school they are failing.  And I reject that on its face.  This is arrogance and hubris that has led us to the point where we are today.

Today is the final day to submit public comment for Odyssey Charter School.  All comments must be received by the Charter School Office at the Delaware Department of Education before 4pm est today.  Public comment can be emailed to infocso@doe.k12.de.us and MUST be done today.  If you are against the practices of an outside AND private organization controlling a tax-payer paid public school, please let your voice be heard urging Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting and the State Board of Education to reject outside control of a public school board.  I’ll be submitting mine!

In the meantime, all the public comments from the meeting Monday night are below.  It is very easy to see who is cheer-leading for AHEPA and who is speaking out for the truth.

The final decision regarding the formal review for Odyssey Charter School will be at the July 18th State Board of Education meeting at the Townsend Building in Dover at 5pm.  It will be a very interesting decision!

As Odyssey Gets Ready For 2nd Public Hearing, AHEPA Emails Sound Like The Handmaid’s Tale…Blessed Be The Fruit!!!

As the clock ticks for a decision on Odyssey Charter School’s formal review, the final public hearing will be tonight.  Meanwhile, the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), which is the primary reason the school went under formal review in the first place, is begging their membership to come out in support of AHEPAn control of the school’s Board of Directors.  So much so they are beginning to sound very desperate.  I would urge the Delaware Secretary of Education and the State Board of Education to use a grain of salt when they read the public comments submitted to them.


From: AHEPA Wilmington Chapter 95 Office of the President <ahepawilm@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, Jun 30, 2019 at 11:10 PM
Subject: CALL TO ACTION/PLEASE READ CAREFULLY/AND EMAIL IMMEDIATELY!
To:

image.png
Good evening Brothers,

We need to FLOOD the DOE with emails regarding the AHEPA Family’s involvement with the Odyssey Charter School.  We MUST retain control for the school to continue to grow with the mission and vision of its pioneering creators!  Below, please find instructions on what should be done IMMEDIATELY.  In addition to yourself, share with family members and friends so that we inundate the DOE email box with supporting emails.

Click on this link:   https://delaware.gov/help/degov-contact.shtml
Enter your name, email, etc.
In the drop down for Category, enter Education
Subject: I support the AHEPA Family majority on the Odyssey Board…..or pick your own subject.  But make it stand out that you support the AHEPA Family
Enter your information in the body information
Submit

Share this with your friends and relatives.  Have your spouse do it too!  We need to impact their inbox!

And don’t forget!  We need you AND your VOICE and the Carvel State Office Building in downtown Wilmington next Monday, July 8th at 5pm.  You must sign up to speak, so please be there before 5!!!

Fraternally,
Michael Klezaras III

President


That was solicitation for the public comment.  Notice the use of the word “brothers” in the above email.  I guess “sisters” don’t get this email.  But I digress…

The following email was sent out yesterday to AHEPANs for public comment at the public hearing tonight at 5pm.


From: Michael Kirifides < mkirifides@gmail.com>
Date: July 7, 2019 at 1:44:14 PM EDT
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Subject: Fwd: CALL TO ACTION/PLEASE READ CAREFULLY/AND EMAIL IMMEDIATELY!

Dear Friend of AHEPA,
I would like to extend this invitation with urgency to support the local Chapter #95 of AHEPA in governing the Odyssey Charter School. There have been unsubstantiated allegations from a few individuals whose complaints have triggered the Delaware Department of Education to request that AHEPA cede its governing authority over the Odyssey Charter School. Without question, in time, the allegations will be disproved, yet the DoE has been pressuring the local AHEPA to relinquishing its governing majority to the few who are in hostile opposition to AHEPA. As a community, we are coordinating a grass roots response to the Charter School Accountability Committee during the public hearing on Monday July 8th at 5 pm being held at the Carvel State Office Building, 820 N. French Street, Wilmington, DE 19801.
Thank you in advance,
Michael Kirifides

 

From a “few individuals”.  Those “few individuals” sure put the spotlight on a lot of individuals, didn’t they Mr. Kirifides!  Is that spotlight “hostile” or just making sure the school board follows the laws of the state?  Didn’t know it was hostile to point out financial fraud!  I hope this formal review puts the AHEPA brotherhood in their place!  “May the Lord be!”

***Editor’s note: If you haven’t read or watched “The Handmaid’s Tale”, the references to the religious quotes will be lost on you. For those who do, doesn’t AHEPA sound very much like Gilead?

Delaware DOE Releases Final Odyssey Formal Review Report

Today, the Charter School Office at the Delaware Department of Education released the final report for the formal review of Odyssey Charter School.  While Delaware media covered a good deal of this, there is some new information.  In addition, the Odyssey Board of Directors sent out two letters to the Odyssey Community from the Wilmington Chapter of the AHEPA organization regarding their role with the Ithaka Learning Center that has been the center of a lot of allegations of financial shenanigans at Odyssey. Continue reading

Bombshell Email Chain Exposes Design Thinking Academy’s Board For Failure To Report A Crime & Kendall Massett’s Involvement In The Cover-Up

After the News Journal reported yesterday that Design Thinking Academy was closing a week earlier than expected, new documents showcase the amount of cover-up that was going on at the Delaware charter school that won $10 million dollars from the XQ Institute.  The cover-up concerned a federal grant for funding that allegedly involved fraud by at least four employees who were terminated for their actions. Continue reading

New Legislation Would Remove Foreign Language As Requirement For Delaware Diploma

State Rep. Kim Williams is on a roll today!  House Bill #182 would get rid of foreign languages as a requirement for a high school diploma in Delaware.

This Act eliminates a barrier that prevents students from graduating from high school by prohibiting the Department of Education from requiring world language credits to receive a State of Delaware Diploma. Many students struggle to pass language classes and while language classes are often necessary for college admission, language classes are not necessary for entry into trades.
The proposed changes to state code are underlined:

122. Rules and regulations [Effective Aug. 1, 2019]

(b) The Department shall prescribe rules and regulations:

(3) Governing the issuance of certificates and diplomas for the public schools of the State. Rules and regulations on this subject shall be proposed by the Secretary subject to approval by the State Board of Education and may not require world language credit ;

I don’t have an issue with this.  If a student plans on going to college they should certainly take a language.  But if they have other plans post high school, why should they take courses that will not do anything to help them in the future?  I approve!

The bill’s Senate primes are Nicole Poore and Jack Walsh while the co-sponsors are Reps. K. Johnson, Kowalko and Osienski with Senators Paradee and Sturgeon.

Odyssey Charter School Responds To Their Formal Review With Letters To Parents, Students and Teachers

After the State Board of Education put Odyssey Charter School under formal review last night, school leaders wrote a letter to the Odyssey community with a response.  In addition, I got my hands on the school’s response to Leroy Travers, the leader of the Charter School Office over at the Department of Education!

Odyssey Goes Under Formal Review For Financial & Governance Reasons

Yesterday, the Delaware State Board of Education voted in the majority to put Odyssey Charter School under formal review for six violations of Delaware state code. Continue reading

State Board of Education To Decide If Odyssey Will Get A Formal Review

While it doesn’t appear on the agenda for their meeting this Thursday, it is expected the Delaware State Board of Education will vote if Odyssey Charter School will get a formal review.  This gained a lot more traction based on an email that went out from school leadership to interested parties last Thursday. Continue reading

Kendall Massett’s White Privilege

We can’t celebrate successful schools that don’t celebrate diversity, period.

During the State Board of Education meeting tonight, a fascinating conversation took place concerning diversity at Newark Charter School.  While Delaware Charter Schools Network Executive Director Kendall Massett did not say a word during the talk, she did something that exhibited a distinct brand of white privilege that had to be seen to be believed.  Lucky for me, I saw it. Continue reading

State Board of Education Approves 7 Charter Schools For Renewal, Newark Charter School Gets 10 Year Renewal

Tonight, in a half hour part of their monthly meeting, the Delaware State Board of Education approved seven Delaware charter schools to be renewed. Continue reading

What Does Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting Do All Day? The Answers!!!

Susan Bunting meets with some interesting people.  Get a peek at who and some of the inner workings of her world at the Delaware Department of Education! Continue reading

State Board Of Education To Double-Up At Next Meeting With 7 Charter School Renewals & Many Presentations

When freaky weather occurred on the date of their last State Board of Education meeting, Executive Director Jenna Ahner canceled the meeting which was to take place in Milford.  As a result, all the agenda items from that meeting will be added to the already crowded December agenda.  If you plan on attending the thing, this is going to be a long night!  The mammoth agenda has a lot going on! Continue reading

Moment of Truth for 8 Delaware Charter Schools

On December 20th, the State Board of Education will decide on seven charter school renewals at their monthly meeting after hearing the decision by Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting.  Meanwhile, the Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education will decide on Charter School of Wilmington’s charter renewal.  Two charters want a ten-year renewal.  Two have submitted minor modification requests to decrease enrollment.  Yesterday, the Delaware DOE’s Charter School Office released the final reports for all seven charters up for renewal through their office.  Continue reading

What The Heck Are Dynamic Learning Maps?

Who comes up with these names? Dynamic Learning Maps? Really?  When the U.S. Department of Education wants Delaware to implement changes, it is up to the Delaware Department of Education to come up with how they do it.  What does Delaware do?  They join a consortium with taxpayer dollars.  We now have the latest from the DOE, Dynamic Learning Maps.  What are they? Continue reading

State Board of Education To Discuss Big Regulation About Graduation & Diploma Requirements & Modified Diplomas

The Delaware State Board of Education will be meeting this Thursday, November 15th at Mispillion Elementary School in Milford for their monthly meeting.  Regulation 505 will be discussed by the State Board which will implement legislation from the past year of the General Assembly.

I would read through this very carefully because there are a lot of changes being made.  It is a meaty document!  If it is crossed out, they are doing away with it.  If it is underlined, that is new.  Many of these changes are a result of House Bill #287 which created the Diploma of Modified Standards and got rid of the dreaded Certificate of Performance.  Other changes are a result of legislation mandating credits in computer science, changes to Physical Education requirements, high school student transfers from out of state, and Student Success Plans.

If you wish to give public comment on the changes to Regulation 505, they are due by December 5th.  You can email them to the following: DOEregulations.comment@doe.k12.de.us

For those who might be wondering why the State Board of Education is meeting in Milford, House Bill #455 changed some things about the State Board.  One of those is that the State Board alternates meetings in different counties.  This began in September when they met in Appoquinimink.  Every other month they will hold a meeting in a different county.  During the other months they will meet at the Townsend Building in Dover.  Next month’s meeting will have the State Board of Ed deciding on all seven of the charter schools up for renewal.

 

It Is Time For DSEA To Regurgitate Themselves From The Bowels Of Rodel

I warned them.  Many times.  Sit at the table and you will be on the table.  The Delaware State Education Association was swallowed whole.  By who? Continue reading

Breaking News: DAPSS Is Closed Effective Immediately!!!!

Sources from the meeting at Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security tonight are saying the Delaware charter school is shut down effective immediately.  Students have to find a new school to go to tomorrow.

Herb Sheldon and his ghost enrollments assuredly played a factor.  I can’t begin to stress how crazy this is.  He screwed over this school and now all the students will pay the price.

I’m sorry, but the Delaware Department of Education had to have some sense of how bad this was and the State Board of Education should have shut them down effective the end of the last school year.  At least that way students and families could have found new schools.  Instead, we have this.

I know folks tried to turn this ship around but it already hit the iceberg years ago.  I also feel bad for the staff who are unemployed as of tomorrow.  This has to hurt.  I know I wrote a ton about this the past year.  I really did hope they could turn it around.

Delaware State Board of Education Needs To Model The Michigan State Board of Education!

Competency-Based Education.  Rodel loves it!  And the Delaware Department of Education has been slowly letting districts transition into it.  But not enough Delaware parents even know what it means.  While Rodel pushes their agendas for it, the State Board of Education needs to take a very active role in examining what it means and what it can do.  In Michigan, it appears their State Board of Education has the ability to vote on grants.

Recently, the Michigan State Board of Education rejected a competency-based education grant brought forth by the Michigan legislature.  U.S. Parents Involved in Education lauded the decision:

Bi-partisan Vote to Protect Children, Parents & Teachers

Today, a bi-partisan group of the Michigan State Board of Education (SBE), voted down a grant program authorized by the Michigan legislature for Competency-Based Education (CBE). According to the State Superintendent, this is the first time SBE has not approved a grant program.

The Michigan Parents Involved in Education leadership would like to thank the Michigan State Board of Education for taking this bold step. We agree with the concerns expressed by Board members. We hope Michigan leadership will move ahead with a better strategy, engaging parents and teachers, before launching another faddish experiment on Michigan’s public school children.

Concerns expressed by the State Board included the distribution of authority, suggesting parents and community members should have a greater role in approving this dramatic change in educational process. Concern was also expressed that CBE will leverage technology and supplant teachers.

The SBE agreed CBE is an experiment, yet the grant requires school-wide implementation K-12 and a strong bias to express support for the educational practice. The grant program was approved as part of the legislative budget process, was not well publicized nor was it publicly vetted with public debate.

The Board wanted additional criteria defined in the grants, which the State Superintendent said they could not do, since the grants were specified in statute. We believe the criteria suggested by SBE members was appropriate and necessary to protect the best interests of children, parents and teachers. The State Superintendent said she would contact the Michigan Attorney General’s office to determine the next step.

I’m really happy to see this happening in Michigan.  Delaware would NEVER sneak anything into the budget process!  Yeah right!  This is what a State Board of Education should do.  The problem in Delaware is our State Board members are appointed by the Governor.  And the new Executive Director for the State Board of Education came directly from Rodel!  It would not shock me to see Competency-Based Education legislation coming next year in the Delaware General Assembly.  If they do, there will be a fight!