State Solicitor Responds To FOIA Complaint Legal Opinion About Family Services Cabinet Council

That didn’t take long!  Yesterday, I received an email from the State Solicitor, Aaron Goldstein.  This was in response to my assertion the Family Services Cabinet Council is a public body, subject to public meetings and FOIA.  Which was based on research I did after the Attorney General’s office gave an opinion on my FOIA complaint to the Governor’s office about the council.

The heart of the issue stems around the disbursement of taxpayer funds.  I alleged the council did just that based on what is written in Delaware state code.  Specifically, §1605 of Title 14.  But the State Solicitor did reference that section in his letter to me:

So this round goes to Governor Carney and the AG’s office.  I still don’t agree with these glorified “staff meetings” being shut out of the public view, but until the laws surrounding Executive Privilege in Delaware change, the law is the law.  Doesn’t make it a good law by any stretch of the imagination!  I would think if you are going to all the trouble to make a “staff meeting” an actual council, you would look to see what is already in state code surrounding that very same council and solicit legislators to make changes around that language.  But I guess that’s just me.

Governor Carney’s Office Cites “Executive Privilege” With Family Services Cabinet Council FOIA Complaint

The Delaware Attorney General’s office released a Freedom of Information Act legal opinion today giving Delaware Governor Carney the right to use executive privilege for a council designed to improve family services in Delaware.  In other words, they are allowed to hold non-public meetings and invite whomever they choose with no one the wiser.  The Attorney General’s office agreed with Carney’s office because of a very bad “separation of powers” clause in state law. Continue reading “Governor Carney’s Office Cites “Executive Privilege” With Family Services Cabinet Council FOIA Complaint”

Governor Markell & Delaware DOE Deny Freedom Of The Press With Smarter Balanced Results

I found out last evening about a press conference in which “credentialed journalists” were invited to a press briefing today at 2pm when the statewide results of the Smarter Balanced Assessment would be released.  This is happening right now at the Carvel Building in Wilmington and an undisclosed location in Dover.  I reached out to Alison May, the Public Relations Officer at the Delaware Department of Education, and Kelly Bachman, Governor Markell’s Press Secretary, to attempt, in good faith, to be allowed to attend this press briefing.  My request was denied.  The levels of collusion involving everything with the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware have been egregious on levels unheard of, and my response to all of this, and everything surrounding it, will be swift and very public.  Below is a copy of the email that was sent out to “Members of the Press” (it was not sent to me originally) and the following emails which were sent by myself and the responses received from Alison May and Kelly Bachman.


NOTE FOR PRESS ONLY: Last year, Delaware schools transitioned to a new Smarter Balanced state assessment.  An embargoed briefing on the release of data from the first year of that assessment will be held for credentialed members of the press Tuesday, September 1, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. at the Carvel State Office Building in Wilmington. There is also an opportunity to receive the briefing from Dover.  If you have not yet done so and would like to attend, please contact alison.may@doe.k12.de.us for more information and to RSVP.

On Monday, August 31, 2015 3:45 PM, “Bachman, Kelly M (Governor)” <Kelly.Bachman@state.de.us> wrote:

Contact: Kelly Bachman, 302-299-9791

                                                                                        

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Bill Signing: Senate Bill 57, Senate Bill 101

What:   Governor Markell will sign Senate Bill 57, relating to the abbreviated title of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, and Senate Bill 101, relating to a new Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Committee – Joined by primary bill sponsor State Senator Bethany Hall Long, other bill sponsors, members of the Delaware Division of Professional Regulation, as well as over 20 Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, the Governor will sign Senate Bill 57 and Senate Bill 101 into law.  Senate Bill 57 will modernize the title of Advanced Practice Nurse to Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, as well as update requirements for licensure and prescriptions.  Senate Bill 101 will create a new Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Committee to assist the Board of Nursing in regulation of nursing practice.

Who:     Governor Markell

State legislators

Regulation division leaders

Healthcare professionals

When:   Tuesday, September 1st at 12:30 p.m.

Where:  University of Delaware, STAR Campus, Atrium, 550 S. College Avenue, Newark

*****

NOTE FOR PRESS ONLY: Last year, Delaware schools transitioned to a new Smarter Balanced state assessment.  An embargoed briefing on the release of data from the first year of that assessment will be held for credentialed members of the press Tuesday, September 1, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. at the Carvel State Office Building in Wilmington. There is also an opportunity to receive the briefing from Dover.  If you have not yet done so and would like to attend, please contact alison.may@doe.k12.de.us for more information and to RSVP.

###


Editor’s note: I decided to contact Alison May to RSVP.


From: Kevin Ohlandt [mailto:kevino3670@yahoo.com]
Sent: Tuesday, September 01, 2015 7:38 AM
To: May Alison
Cc: Bachman Kelly M
Subject: Smarter Balanced Assessment Briefing Today
Good morning Alison,
I would like to attend the Smarter Balanced Assessment results briefing today through Governor Markell’s office and the Delaware Department of Education.  I would like to RSVP to hear the briefing through Dover.  Please let me know where I should go.  I completely and fully understand these are embargoed results and cannot be released until such time as designated through Governor Markell’s office or the Delaware Department of Education and I would be more than willing to sign any confidentiality agreement to that effect.  Thank you,
Kevin Ohlandt

Exceptional Delaware


From: May Alison <alison.may@doe.k12.de.us>
To: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
Cc: Bachman Kelly M <kelly.bachman@state.de.us>
Sent: Tuesday, September 1, 2015 7:50 AM
Subject: RE: Smarter Balanced Assessment Briefing Today

Kevin,

Thank you for your interest, but this is an embargoed briefing for credentialed members of the media only.  The public release is at noon tomorrow.

Alison


From: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
To: May Alison <alison.may@doe.k12.de.us>
Cc: Bachman Kelly M <kelly.bachman@state.de.us>
Sent: Tuesday, September 1, 2015 8:11 AM
Subject: Re: Smarter Balanced Assessment Briefing Today

Alison,
That’s a shame, because I am a member of the media and I happen to have a lot of street cred.  And I was willing to sign anything you folks would want to keep the embargo.  Now I have to blog that you won’t let me in, which kind of makes the DOE look bad.  It’s not like this is the Cuban Missile Crisis…
Kevin

Editor’s Note: It is at this point in time I called Governor Markell’s Press Secretary Kelly Bachman at approximately 9:10am this morning.  She heard my request, said she was just walking into work, and would get back to me.  By late morning, I received no response, so I emailed her directly.


From: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
To:kelly.bachman@state.de.us” <kelly.bachman@state.de.us>
Sent: Tuesday, September 1, 2015 11:38 AM
Subject: Smarter Balanced Assessment Results Briefing Today
Hello again Kelly,
I had spoken with you this morning but you were just walking into work.  I was the blogger who wanted to be at the press briefing on the SBAC results today.  I haven’t heard back from you if I am able to attend.  I also want to add that I would certainly sign any confidentiality agreements due to the embargo until 12 noon tomorrow, 9/2/15.  I have (deleted due to personal information), so I was hoping to get the information today when I’m not (deleted due to personal information)!
Thank you for your consideration on this matter,
Kevin Ohlandt
Exceptional Delaware

From: Kevin Ohlandt [mailto:kevino3670@yahoo.com]
Sent: Tuesday, September 01, 2015 11:52 AM
To: Bachman, Kelly M (Governor) <Kelly.Bachman@state.de.us>
Subject: Re: Smarter Balanced Assessment Results Briefing Today
Hello once more!
With a readership of thousands of Delawareans every day, sometimes in the five figures, I would think the DOE and Governor Markell’s office would all want media representatives in attendance at this meeting.  To deny access to influential members of the media in the state is indicative of non-transparency which has been a strong issue the DOE has been facing for quite a long time now.  While it is not my wish to make this a bigger deal than it has to be, and my request is for this office to do the right thing, I have already had hundreds of messages expressing disappointment in both that I was not invited to this event since they get the bulk of their education news from Exceptional Delaware.  This is an effort to build a bridge here with an audience who views Delaware DOE as very secretive and not willing to work with the public, and I won’t be able to control the spin on that.
Thank you again,
Kevin Ohlandt
Editor’s note: The original email sent for this, in the first paragraph, did say “media representative media”, but I corrected it for clarification.


E

Editor’s Note: After an hour with no response, I once again called Kelly Bachman and left a message with much of the information I’ve already written about.



From: “Bachman, Kelly M (Governor)” <Kelly.Bachman@state.de.us>
To: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
Sent: Tuesday, September 1, 2015 12:52 PM
Subject: RE: Smarter Balanced Assessment Results Briefing Today

Hi Kevin,
We appreciate your interest in covering this information. Unfortunately, given the high volume of interest, if we made exceptions for the embargoed press briefing, we’d open ourselves up to including other members of the public and we aren’t able to do that. The briefing today is for credentialed journalists representing news media organizations and is the same format used for releasing test score information as in years past. As stated previously, there will be a public release tomorrow.
Best,
 
Kelly M. Bachman
Press Secretary, Office of Governor Jack A. Markell
302.577.8495 | 820 N. French Street| Wilmington, DE 19801 |
cell: 302.299.9791


 From: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
To: “Bachman, Kelly M (Governor)” <Kelly.Bachman@state.de.us>
Sent: Tuesday, September 1, 2015 1:12 PM
Subject: Re: Smarter Balanced Assessment Results Briefing Today

Hi Kelly,
So other members of the media, up to and including bloggers, are considered “members of the public”?  That is very insulting to be honest with you.  Bloggers reach out to audiences across the state and do it for free, for absolutely no financial benefit.  The levels of non-transparency with Governor Markell’s administration and the Delaware Department of Education have now reached epic levels.
I will be sure not to invite your office to my upcoming press conference when I announce several complaints I plan on filing with the Delaware Attorney General, the Delaware Public Integrity Commission, the Delaware State Auditor, the Federal Ombudsman at the US Department of Education, the US Department of Justice, and the US Office of Civil Rights.  These complaints will include Governor Markell, members of his administration, the Delaware Department of Education, the State Board of Education, and certain education committees or groups in this state for numerous violations of FOIA, State law, and Federal law.
I’ve tried playing nice with you folks numerous times, but it is more than obvious you have no intention of decreasing the level of lies, intimidation, and illegal activities that surround education in Delaware.  Please tell Governor Markell this could have easily gone another way when he asks why all of this is happening.
Thank you,
Kevin Ohlandt


So there you have it.  As anyone reading this blog knows, the Delaware Department of Education, the State Board of Education and Governor Jack Markell and members of his administration have been tampering with public education for several years.  It is past time we put an immediate halt to this.  And I am a man of my word, everything I told Kelly Bachman I would do will happen.  I have the evidence already.  These are not empty threats like we have been receiving from these liars for the past seven years.  This was their last chance to show an iota of transparency to Delaware.  If you would like to help contribute to the ever growing pile of pending complaints, please contact me immediately where you know how to reach me.  This is the game-changer.