Multiple sources are telling me the same thing: the Delaware Attorney General’s office will NOT arrest, indict, or press charges against former Indian River School District Chief Financial Officer Patrick Miller. With reasons as absurd as “insufficient evidence”, this is a black eye that will severely impact the four years Matt Denn served as Delaware Attorney General. But the only color I see in this decision is a white one. Continue reading
Regulation 926 is up for a vote on Thursday at the State Board of Education meeting. Dealing with IEPs and the Procedural Safeguards pamphlet parents or guardians receive prior to an IEP meeting, Regulation 926 actually attempts to water down the Procedural Safeguards. Attorney General Matt Denn is NOT happy about this.
Under state and federal law, it is mandatory for parents to get the Procedural Safeguards prior to an IEP meeting. The language in the pamphlet is very specific in defining the rights for a parent or guardian of a student with disabilities. Instead, the DOE wants to make sure it is “available” and gives a summary instead of parents actually receiving the legal document when a notice of an IEP meeting goes out.
Denn cites the concern that some parents or guardians may not have access to the internet or email. This isn’t the first time Denn has challenged the State Board of Education over IEP concerns. As the Chair of the IEP Task Force a couple years ago, Denn was adamant about making sure parents’ rights with IEP meetings were the central focus. This was one of the central tenants of the legislation that came out of the task force, Senate Bill 33.
I can’t understand why the State Board, as directed by the Delaware Department of Education continues to change what doesn’t need to be changed. When it comes to special education, they are silent over the lack of basic special education funding for students in Kindergarten to 3rd grade. Special Education has very strict laws in Delaware State Code and federal law under IDEA. But it almost seems like they purposely try to change the law any chance they get because they think they can. Last week, the State Board of Education was put on Sunset Review by the Delaware General Assembly members of the Joint Sunset Committee.
While everyone else talks about John Carney and Tom Gordon, and Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn is put below this pecking order, I have recently come to the conclusion Matt Denn is the only logical choice for Governor in 2016. What brought this on? Two things.
First is this Facebook post Matt put up in regards to the budget passed in the wee hours of the morning by our state legislators and passed by Governor Markell soon after.
There is no sugar-coating it. The state budget was passed last night, and after five months of making the case, I wasn’t able to persuade the General Assembly’s Joint Finance Committee to invest financial market settlement funds in any of the initiatives I proposed to address violent crime — no funds to extend Wilmington’s very effective police foot patrols (whose state funding will expire in two weeks), no funds for staffing of video cameras, no funds for new after-school …or summer programs for juveniles, no funds for new re-entry programs, no additional funds for high-poverty elementary schools, no additional funds for low income housing. Instead, the Joint Finance Committee spent millions of dollars in settlement funds to balance this year’s budget. I recognize that it was a very tough budget year, but it would’ve been affordable and appropriate to fund at least some of what we proposed. To the Delawareans who are living every day with the consequences of violent crime, and others in our state who think it is an important issue, I am sorry I wasn’t able to persuade the legislature to invest in these programs, and I want you to know that I am going to keep on trying.
This is truly what we need in our state, someone willing to tackle the issues from the streets and in our schools, not sitting in an office somewhere hoping the problem goes away or continuing the very faulty “kicking of the can” down the road.
Second, I went to Legislative Hall in Dover last night. I wanted to see how the Senate voted on State Rep. Kim William’s House Bill 186, the charter school post-audit bill. By the time I got there, Senator Sokola had already placed the bill back in committee, which went against the grain of the vast majority of bills passed last night, which had more rules suspended than charter school leaders are actually caught for their financial malfeasances.
As I heard the budget bill discussed before the House of Representatives, I heard State Reps. John Kowalko and Paul Baumbach speak about why they were not voting yes for the budget bill. I also heard the very tongue-in-cheek response from those in disagreement with them, which amounted to “if you don’t vote for this, than it is a vote against Delaware” which I immediately translated to “Don’t you dare question how this state spends money”. That is not a democracy. There were far too many items on the budget allocated for those who already have enough but want more. There were very few for those who need it the most.
Afterwards, the House went into a very long recess, and I wandered around, talking to folks here and there. I went down to the cafeteria to listen to the bond bill discussions on the video feed, and I saw Matt Denn with a very serious look on his face. I met Matt last fall at the IEP Task Force, when he chaired the group as one of his last acts as Lieutenant Governor. I attended every single meeting, as did Matt. I wasn’t on the task force, but I felt it was important someone outside the group caught it all. I gave public comment at nearly every meeting, and at times I was quite combative with what I needed to say. Never once did Denn give me the look I’ve received so many times from the likes of Earl Jaques, David Sokola, various DOE staff, or those sitting at the “big table” as the State Board of Education. Whether or not he agreed with me was beyond the point, he was always very cordial with me and listened.
My son went with me to one of the meetings, and he wanted to talk but he didn’t know what to say, so I wrote something off for him on the fly. It was very obvious to all in attendance who wrote the words, but Matt thanked him from the heart for what he said.
I’ve seen Matt a handful of times since the IEP Task Force ended, all at Legislative Hall. I’ve been down there quite a bit supporting certain education bills, most prominently House Bill 50, the parent opt-out bill. I have no clue what Matt thinks of this bill, but he never disparaged me on the issue, which so many in this state have.
So back to last night, in the midst of the chaos which has become June 30th into July 1st at Legislate Hall, I was sitting in the cafeteria. I saw Matt start to walk by, when out of the corner of his eye he glanced over at me and asked one simple question: “How is your son doing?” We had a conversation about my son’s latest trials and tribulations, which Denn knew some aspects of based on an email conversation I had with him earlier in the Winter. Matt remembered exactly the details of that email, and at a time when he had the entire world hammering around him, he took the time to ask about my son.
This is what we need from our leaders, a true understanding of the realities of our worlds. Someone on the ground floor who just gets it. Someone who understands a person’s problems are all of Delaware’s problems. Someone who works very hard for what he believes in not only for himself, but the entire state. Someone who isn’t afraid to make the tough choices for the most vulnerable members of our society. Not to further his own ambition, but for the simple reason that he cares.
This is why I find myself endorsing a candidate for Governor who hasn’t even thrown his hat in the ring, and why I believe all fellow Delawareans should give a shout out to Matt to really dive into this. We need a leader who governs the people, not the corporate interests dictating every aspect of our lives. We need a real person. We need you Matt!