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 Bombshell Email Chain Exposes Design Thinking Academy’s Board For Failure To Report A Crime & Kendall Massett’s Involvement In The Cover-Up
Shocking documents, never seen before by the public, give a shocking look at what led to the closure of Design Thinking Academy. As usual, it is not based on academics but adult decisions and a corrupt board of directors. Continue reading Exclusive: The Truth Behind The Closure Of Design Thinking Academy
The Rodel Foundation of Delaware has a new name. They are now called Rodel. This landmark rebranding effort comes to you from Rodel. It is the 20th Anniversary since the Budingers sold their business to Germany and decided to launch an education reform non-profit company destined to jack up Delaware education for all time. In honor of this infamous anniversary, it is time to talk about what Rodel is up to and what their goals and agendas are really about.
I’ve been writing about Rodel for four and a half years. But the complete and utter crap I saw from them in the past couple of weeks is the height of arrogance. They have been pimping their snake-oil for 20 years but they are now reaching the height of their power. As an example, Rodel seems to think they are the sole force in the creation of Delaware charter schools. If you ever doubted the complete farce Rodel really is, this screenshot from their rebranded website should cast those doubts aside: Continue reading Rodel Embarks On Their “Lipstick On A Pig” Rebranding Tour
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 Kendall Massett’s White Privilege
After waiting an extra ten days to put up the audio of their June board meeting, the future of the Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security is once again in doubt. Immediately into their board meeting, Margie Lopez-Waite resigned as President of their board and was than voted into the new Head of School position. Continue reading Margie Lopez-Waite New Head Of School At DAPSS But Is Colonial Backing Out? Conflicts Of Interest All Over The Place!
If you read the News Journal article on the Charter School of Wilmington teachers voting to unionize, it was filled with reasons why President Sam Paoli did not want the teachers to unionize. The article failed to capitalize on why the vote happened in the first place- CSW President Sam Paoli.
At this point it is unclear why the educators wanted to unionize or by how large a margin the vote was successful.
In a recent email to parents, the Delaware Charter Schools Network asked parents to donate money to keep them going. They have been around for well over a decade now and they have never tried to raise funds like this to my knowledge. They normally receive funds from the Delaware charter schools that send annual dues and grants from other non-profits like the Rodel Foundation or the Longwood Foundation.
As we end the week, we begin something new! As the only Charter Support Organization in Delaware, the Delaware Charter Schools Network advocates for and supports all of our schools – but as I have told you all before, we cannot do it alone. We need support too. To that end, today we are launching our first-ever crowdfunding campaign! Our goal is to raise a total of $20,000 to help us with programming that we provide.
Because it is our first campaign, we thought it might be easier to break this into milestones – and our first is to raise $5,000 in the first week. Would you consider becoming one of our first supporters to help make it happen?
While $20,000 doesn’t seem like a ton of money for a non-profit, I have to wonder what the sudden need is for extra money? Did the rent go up at 100 W. 10th St. in Wilmington? Did they lose funding from one of their grants? Are some charter schools deciding not to pay their dues? Did their lobbying costs go up?
On the website for this campaign, it talks about how DCSN holds the Public School Choice Expo each year up in New Castle County. It appears they will have two in New Castle County, one in Kent County, and one in Sussex County this year as well. The campaign, hosted by a company called Funderbolt, isn’t listed on the DCSN website which I found rather odd. I would think they would put a link to it on there as well if they need this money so bad. Even more odd, for a crowd-funding organization devoted to raising funds for schools, they can’t even spell the word “philanthropy” right.
To date, the campaign received three donations totaling $75.00.
While it is certainly legal for DCSN to hold this kind of campaign, and other organizations like the Delaware PTA rely on parent dues for their existence, this kind of outreach is unprecedented. Is this a sign that the charter world in Delaware is struggling? Or did Kendall Massett see the cash-cow that is Basis Charter Schools in Arizona where they ask parents for $1,500 a year to “support teachers”?
Based on their 2015 tax filing, the Rodel Foundation of Delaware Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Paul Herdman, makes an astonishing $398,000. Keep in mind this was in 2015 so he is most likely well over that pesky $400,000 barrier. Good lord! I found lots of interesting stuff in this tax filing, signed off by Dr. Paul Herdman on May 12th, 2017. As well, I looked up some of Rodel’s best friends and found TONS of information on them as well! Continue reading Rodel’s Paul Herdman Has To Love His Insane $398,000 (And Counting) Salary! Plus: Rodel’s Friends Make Big Bucks Too!
In her resignation letter, former Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security Board of Directors President Sherese Brewington-Carr expressed a desire for the charter school to close. As well, she opened a can of extreme whoop-ass on Delaware Charter School Network Executive Director Kendall Massett. Five days later, the school and board went through their first meeting with the Charter School Accountability Committee and went through a very intense meeting. Las Americas Aspiras Academy Head of School Margie Lopez-Waite lambasted the school in the meeting while begging CSAC to keep the school open another year. Continue reading Former DAPSS Board President Rips School & Kendall Massett To Shreds While Margie Lopez-Waite Pleads To Keep School Open
It seems random events are not so random at Providence Creek Academy, the charter school in Clayton, DE. It now appears that the audit investigation into suspected fraud by a former employee was missing a lot of information. Two other employees were also taking funds meant for students for their own personal use. Head of School Charles “Chuck” Taylor covered it all up. Continue reading The Hidden Secrets Behind Providence Creek Academy’s Bomb Threat & Audit Investigation
It was one of those blink and you miss it moments. In the midst of budget negotiations in the early hours of July 1st, the Delaware House of Representatives voted again on House Concurrent Resolution #39 after Senator Colin Bonini added an amendment in the Senate. The bill passed the Senate but because the amendment was added, the House had to vote again.
Bonini’s amendment removed charter schools from being a part of any district consolidation discussion. When the bill came back to the House, State Rep. Kim Williams added another amendment which would remove the Delaware Charter Schools Network from membership on the district consolidation task force. It was a logical amendment. If charters didn’t want to be a part of the discussion, why would they want membership? The amendment barely passed with 21 yes and 20 no. The sole Republican yes vote came from State Rep. Jeff Spiegelman. Democrats who voted against it were Earl Jaques, Melanie Smith, Larry Mitchell, Quinton Johnson and Pete Schwartzkopf. None of those Dem votes really surprise me. Some who voted yes surprised me, but I have seen similar votes with charter related bills this year so perhaps there could be a shift in thinking on that front.
The Delaware Department of Education is the support agency for this task force. While no meetings have been scheduled at this point, the final report is due to the General Assembly by January 30th, 2018. I expect this task force will get going at some point later this summer.
House Concurrent Resolution passed the Delaware Senate a short time ago with amendment by Delaware Senator to take charter schools out of the district consolidation task force’s discussion. A prior amendment in the House from State Rep. Earl Jaques included charter schools in the task force discussion. Oddly enough, Senator Bonini’s amendment didn’t remove a representative from the Delaware Charter Schools Network from the task force.
Senator David Sokola said this bill did not have to be heard in committee but felt it was an important enough topic to have that voice.
Senator Bryan Townsend expressed hope that charters would be a part of the task force’s review. He said the intent of the legislation is a coordinated school system. He recognized Delaware’s unique education system and understood the ideological discussion of Senator Colin Bonini but still felt all Delaware public schools should be part of that system.
Senator Bonini’s amendment passed with 12 yes, 8 no, and 1 absent. For the concurrent resolution, it passed with 17 yes, 3 no, and 1 absent. I imagine it will come back to the House tonight.
Senator Townsend’s Senate Concurrent Resolution #39, requesting an advisory opinion from the Justices of the Delaware Supreme Court on the efficiency of Delaware’s public school system, was defeated in the Delaware Senate with 9 yes, 10 no, 1 not voting, and 1 absent. House Bill #142, dealing with training for School Resource Officers in situations dealing with students with disabilities, passed the Senate with 20 yes and 1 no. The Kim Williams sponsored bill goes to Governor Carney for signature.
For well over two years, Providence Creek Academy has been searching for a new Head of School. Let me repeat that. For over two years. And guess who is on the committee to hire a new Head of School? Chuck Taylor. The not-so-interim and more like permanent Head of School. How many interviews have they had? What is the hold up? If I were a betting man, Chuck is so glued to that school he weeds out anyone who could possibly replace him. In reviewing their board minutes for the past nine months, there has not been one mention of this committee or any type of interviews for a candidate.
I’ve always been curious how a charter school leader can hold that position when they aren’t even certified to do so. We hold that standard for traditional school districts, why not a charter school? This came up with the Delaware DOE during the school’s renewal a year and a half ago but I haven’t heard squat about it since. I would have to believe more than a handful of qualified candidates knocked on their door for this job. I have a sneaky feeling there are some in the PCA community who are wondering the same thing. How they aren’t exactly enamored with Chuck in this role. That they may be questioning his ability to effectively govern the school with his qualifications. I’ve also heard, and not just recently, that he rules over the school AND the board with an iron fist. A season of discontent? You better believe it! Many feel Taylor abuses his position and he owns their Board of Directors.
When he isn’t busy with PCA, Chuck helps out with the Delaware Charter Schools Network as the President of their board. He also serves on the Charter School Accountability Committee at the Delaware Department of Education. How does a former shop teacher get so involved with charter school policy at the state level? Which will be very busy in the fall with no less than five charter school renewals on their plate.
In 2013, Chuck Taylor left Providence Creek. He “resigned”. He resurfaced in the fall of 2014 after a brief stint as interim Head of School at Campus Community School in Dover. The circumstances surrounding his sudden “resignation” are mysterious. I’m sure the reasons are tied up in some type of non-disclosure agreement. But when truly strange things started happening at the school in October of 2014 and many became worried about school safety and security, Taylor came back. It was meant to be temporary, but two years and eight months later he is still there. He guided the school through their renewal process last year but during all that one of their former employees was named in an audit investigation and alleged to have embezzled money from the school.
In April, the PCA Foundation was approved as a 501c3 non-profit. Somehow, this will allow the school to get a loan from the USDA according to their April board minutes. It also appears the Delaware Department of Finance approved the school for procurement cards with a maximum limit of $5000. Their board minutes do not specify how many p-cards the school received and which staff will receive them. The school was selected as one of two pilot schools for the changes to Delaware’s teacher evaluation system. The changes, which came from House Bill 399 last year, were not implemented at PCA and they bowed out of the new alternative pilot. They did, however, hire a non-educator to conduct their teacher evaluations at the school. This DPAS-II coordinator’s education experience consists of summer camp counselor experience. During the Spring, many parents became upset over a field trip waiver which parents felt did not adequately protect students. Quite a few spoke out in public comment during their May Board of Directors meeting.
To those who want to say “Here he goes again, bashing on charter schools”, that is NOT the case here. Aside from the ongoing Newark Charter School ruckus, I’ve probably been harder on districts than charters in the past six months. But all I will say is there is legitimate cause for concern and I’ll leave it at that. In this era of reduction in workforce notices and budget cuts, fear is a very powerful thing. I would love it if educators at PCA went on the record with whatever is going on there, but I also understand a need for staying quiet in what could very easily be seen as a hostile work environment. Delaware has fairly extensive Whistleblower laws on the books.
I don’t have all the details yet, but the Delaware State Board of Education is being held for another year in the Delaware Legislative Oversight and Sunset Committee. There are several areas of concern the committee still has with the State Board of Education. I also heard someone from the State Board of Education named John Marinucci as the State Board’s contact person for all Delaware school boards. Marinucci is the Executive Director of the Delaware School Boards Association. Only 15 out of the 19 school districts in Delaware belong to that organization. None of the Delaware charter schools do either. So how could Marinucci possibly represent all the school boards to the State Board of Education? Anyone who has been around the State Board of Education knows who acts as a liaison between Delaware charter school boards and them- Kendall Massett, the Executive Director of the Delaware Charter Schools Network.
As soon as I know more, I will update this article. I heard this on the fly from several people while I was down at Legislative Hall today. Actually, I heard a lot of things down there today! All I can say is get ready for an absolutely crazy time from now until June 30th (July 1st for those who know how things work in Dover). If you think the conversation is heated now, strap your seatbelt on and get ready for an insane ride until the end of the legislative session!
Will Executive Director Donna Johnson and the State Board of Education meet the requirements to get out of Sunset review? I guess we have to wait until next year! But the fact they are being held over until then means they did not satisfy the committee. Meanwhile, long-time State Board of Education receptionist Danielle Moore is retiring at the end of June. I’ve seen Danielle probably hundreds of times between the Townsend Building and Legislative Hall. She is an awesome lady and is always courteous and genuine. Best of luck on your future endeavors Danielle!
Kendall Massett, the Executive Director of the Delaware Charter Schools Network, will soon be standing at a crossroads. As someone who preaches district and charter collaboration on one hand, the other hand is busy trying to find ways to get more district money to follow students at Delaware charters. This dichotomy is going to define the future of charter schools in Delaware.
As anyone breathing in Delaware is well aware, fifteen charter schools sued the Delaware Dept. of Education and the Christina School District over funds they felt should have been going to charter schools. The defining moment in the lawsuit: when Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky reversed changes to the local funding formula for school choice payments after September 1st. They could have been patient and allowed Godowsky or the next Delaware Secretary of Education and the General Assembly the opportunity to figure it out. But instead, they took the legal route which was championed by Kendall Massett. As a result, the law firm of Saul Ewing will get $300,000. How many teachers could be hired with that kind of money? How many students could have received a paraprofessional in a school room bursting with over 25 kids?
If the collaboration Massett truly desires took place, this lawsuit wouldn’t have happened in the first place. If there is blame to be thrown around regarding who was at fault with the local funding formula, that blame lands solely at the feet of the Delaware Dept. of Education. They should have been the ones answering the questions for the charters. Christina performed their due diligence and submitted their exclusions to the Delaware DOE. This originated last Winter, with Newark Charter School calling in the DOE who apparently “confessed” to the powers that be about the exclusions submitted by Christina. The DOE had an opportunity right then and there to make good on this. The charter schools could have gone public with this information and forced the DOE to do something about it. And if that didn’t work, they could have brought in the General Assembly. But instead, they kept this a secret for many months. They had to know when the public found out about this they would be understandably upset. These were huge funding changes with charter payments. This was not a wise move for the charters involved. By alleging that Christina was purposely withholding funds from these charters when the district did the same thing they had been doing for 12-13 years, which I might add was completely legal since the DOE approved them, the charters started a war. It is not that difficult to see this was the original intent. It boils down to Greg Meece having a hissy fit because his school wanted more money and if Christina wouldn’t willfully give it up, he was going to punish them and cast blame.
In an article on Delaware First Media, written by Meg Pauly on December 1st, Massett weighed in on the Christina Board of Education signing the settlement with the fifteen charters. Massett, as the go-to spokeswoman for Delaware charter schools, seemed to have some very big misunderstandings about what this settlement really is.
She said the decision most likely won’t require a vote from each schools’ entire board of directors, which could make it easier to approve.
“Because there would not be any money going out – they’re not paying out a settlement, it would be money coming in – there’s not really a fiduciary responsibility that the board would have to approve,” Massett said.
There is certainly a fiduciary responsibility stemming from this settlement. The charters, according to the settlement, would have to make sure the funds were allocated to certain functions similar to what those funds were used for in the Christina School District. As well, the Pandora’s box called tuition tax funds were brought up in the settlement. It states:
In the CSD settlement agreement, CSD has agreed to catalogue and describe, for DOE and CSD Charter Schools, those services provided by CSD to children with special needs (“Special Needs Services”) that are funded in whole, in whole or in part, with revenues generated by the levy of the so-called Tuition Tax by CSD. The objective of this undertaking is to determine whether CSD shall be financially responsible under Section 509(f) for funding the same or similar Special Needs Services provided by CSD Charter Schools to their CSD resident students. If requested, DOE will participate in the discussions and inquiry described in this subsection, and, where necessary, shall enforce this provision.
So what does Section 509(f) of Delaware State Code say?
For any student, who because of educational need requires services that are appropriately financed pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 6 of this title, either at the outset or subsequent to a decision to enroll in a charter school, the student’s district of residence shall remain financially responsible for such student and the charter school shall receive from such district a payment determined in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 6 of this title.
Which brings us back to Chapter 6 of Title 14:
§ 604 Special programs.
(a) If any pupil is counted in the preschool, intensive or complex unit and attends school in a program operated by a district other than that in which the pupil resides, by an agency of the Department of Education or is in an approved private placement pursuant to § 3124 of this title, the receiving district or the Department of Education shall collect a tuition charge for the nonresident pupil, provided approval for attendance has been granted by the sending district. Such tuition charge shall be paid by the school board of the reorganized school district in which the pupil is a resident from the proceeds of a local tax levied for this specific purpose, except that in the case of a district assigned by the Department with the approval of the State Board of Education to administer a school or program for children with disabilities, or special programs approved by the Department of Education for persons without disabilities such as programs for bilingual students or programs for pregnant students, the district so assigned shall be both the sending and receiving district in regard to that school or program and is authorized to collect tuition charges accordingly.
(b) In determining the tuition to be charged for a pupil counted in the preschool, intensive or complex units or for a person without disabilities attending approved special programs, such as bilingual programs or programs for pregnant students operated by a district other than that in which the student resides or by an agency of the State Department of Education, the receiving district or the State Department of Education shall compute the tuition by adding such receiving district’s share of educational related expenses as allowed by the Department of Education regulations. The sum so obtained shall be divided by the total number of pupils in the special program as of September 30 of the current school year. The resulting figure shall represent the amount of the “tuition charge” per pupil.
(c) In determining the tuition charged to the sending district in the case of private placement for children with disabilities, tuition will be defined as in § 3124 of this title and the sending district will be charged 30 percent of the total tuition cost. The remaining 70 percent will be covered through funding provided by the State Department of Education from the annual appropriation for this purpose.
The charter schools get IDEA Part B funding from the federal government. They receive special education funding from the state for Basic Special Education for students in pre-school (if they have those programs) and students in 4th-12th grade. They get intensive and complex funding for students in all grades. Where the tuition tax gets very complex is how it is determined. The local school board votes to set the current year’s tuition tax rate for taxpayers. It is not something the district can change on a whim. And state code is very specific about what those funds can be used for. What makes Christina very unique is that they are the management district for several special needs programs. Those are not funds the charter schools could touch based on this settlement unless they are providing comparable services. Then we get into the definition of a comparable service. Would Gateway Lab School be considered the same school as the special schools within Christina?
Where Kendall, as well as the entire settlement, performs a massive overreach is in this particular section. It is tampering with state code in unbelievable ways. State code does not legally have to honor a settlement stemming from a lawsuit between a school district and a group of charters. As well, it can not, and should not, dictate what a state agency has to do. That is what we have our General Assembly for, to create and amend laws. We can certainly discuss the merit of some of those laws, but that is the very essence of the Constitution of Delaware. A settlement should not create new contradictions that try to negate existing law. Which is why Secretary Godowsky wanted the General Assembly to intervene in this entire funding process. I am assuming the Delaware DOE signed their settlement agreement with the fifteen charters. Which is even more concerning in my eyes. The fact they would allow changes in Delaware law without approval of the legislative body charged with performing that task. A settlement cannot create laws or regulations.
What this section does is change the duty of charter schools in regards to their adherence of special education law which they should already be doing to the best of their ability. This settlement is much more than a “fiduciary responsibility” in nature, as Massett put it. Something that magnanimous in scope should be approved by a charter school board, not a Head of School or even an interim principal in one case. It is fiduciary in a sense that the charters would receive more money from a tuition tax, but it would require an oversight of the special education services within each of those charter schools to make sure they are performing at a comparable level to Christina. That could involve extra resources and staff those charters may not have. Could a charter hire that staff and pay for those resources and then submit for those tuition tax funds? Or would those services and staff have to already be in place to be eligible for those funds? The settlement does not define that.
If, for some odd reason, legislation is created out of this part of the settlement, it would require districts to collect even more tuition tax from taxpaying citizens within their district. They would have to because more would be required to go out to charter schools for those students. They should not be tasked with divvying up the existing tuition tax they receive for the students within their own district with those needs or funds they are already sending to special education schools outside of their district. That would take away from those students. But here is the major problem with this: the local boards have to determine the tuition tax rate in the summer before the school year starts. They base this on projections within their own district. How can they determine the needs of special education students who reside in their district but attend charter schools before the school year even starts? For some they can, but special education can be very fluid, evolving from year to year. It is hard enough for the districts to do this for their own students.
If Kendall Massett wants more collaboration between districts and charters going forward, she needs to stop drawing this line in the sand when it comes to money. She is going to continue to piss off the districts and they will not want to collaborate with the charters who keep demanding more and more from them. Districts can’t always get performance funds or donations from foundations. They can’t always have silent auctions like many charter schools do. All Delaware public schools have the capability of applying for grants from the state or the federal government, including charters. Districts don’t get to keep their excess transportation spending if they set their budget higher than what they actually spend. And charters are free to use this money as they please. So please, tell me Kendall, if the charters are getting what you view as their “fair share“, will you promote removing those extra perks for the charters that districts don’t get? When it comes to education funding, there is a crystal-clear difference between what a charter school needs and what an entire district needs. In some ways, it is like comparing apples to oranges. You can’t complain about charters not receiving capital funding. That was the way the law for charters was set up. It was the price of admission into Delaware public education. So by default, on paper, it would appear charters get less than districts for that very reason.
Some could argue that this latest misstep by the charters is just more of an ongoing agenda to privatize public education. Just one more chunk taken from school districts and flowing into the hands of charter schools which are actually non-profit corporations. By state law, those corporations are required to file IRS tax returns. But because of loopholes in IRS guidance, the one charter school who actually started this whole charter payment mess is the one school that does not file those tax returns. The guiding force behind the lawsuit was Greg Meece and Newark Charter School. They created the very conditions that led to the lawsuit. The settlement promises severe disruption to all Delaware schools involving special education and funding. But Newark Charter School is not transparent with their own finances the same way the rest of Delaware charters are. I have grave issues with that. And I have no doubt in my mind Kendall is aware of this.
In a News Journal article from December 5th discussing the settlement details, written by Adam Duvernay, Kendall states the following:
“I’m glad everyone will have a seat at the table, and that the process will be transparent, so we don’t find ourselves in this situation again where charter schools go for years without answers and feel like they need to resort to legal action to make their voices heard,” Massett said.
What about the questions many Delawareans have been asking the charter schools for years without any real answers? Like how certain Delaware charter schools can cherry-pick students in defiance of state and federal law? When does Newark Charter School, which created this whole mess, finally implement their plan to balance their demographics at their school? When does Newark Charter School become fully transparent with their own money the way every other Delaware charter school is required by law to do? Massett cherry-picks her statements. She wants districts to answer any questions charters have, but when those answers are needed by others, she either deflects or states it just isn’t true. And when people do take legal actions surrounding charter demographics? Like when the Office of Civil Rights asked for all charter school applications a couple of years ago going back the two years before that request? The Delaware Charter Schools Network became the organization tasked with collecting that information. And what happened? Massett informed the Office of Civil Rights the charters did not know they needed to keep that information. And then there is the matter of the now two-year-old complaint from the Delaware ACLU against the State of Delaware and Red Clay regarding practices of segregation and discrimination from some Delaware charter schools. Kendall called that “a myth.” Two years later and that complaint has gone nowhere. Forcing someone to sit at the table with a menu where there are two choices, our way or no way, is not collaboration. It is not legal action. It is manipulation that doesn’t belong in education. With education, every decision eventually affects students in a good way or a bad way. For far too long, those decisions have existed for the benefit of charter school students.
Getting real here, Kendall’s job is to promote charter schools and to serve as a buffer between them and the state in certain areas. At heart, Kendall is a lobbyist, seeking to influence the General Assembly and the Delaware DOE in ways that will benefit charter schools in the state. Charter schools pay dues to the Delaware Charter Schools Network. In a sense, they are very similar to some of the roles the Delaware State Education Association plays in education politics. But the difference is that DSEA represents the teachers in district schools. They promote or oppose legislation that will benefit the teachers within their organization. I have no doubt DSEA would love to have charter school teachers unionize. But the Delaware Charter School Network exists for a niche within public education that almost serves as a parasite on the districts they feed from. It takes from the host body and sucks the energy out of it. That is the price of school choice that Kendall cannot seem to fathom.
In 2017, education will once again be front and center in Delaware. The corporate education reform movement, led by the Rodel Foundation in Delaware, will become more pronounced with the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act. But in some ways, it almost seems like the charter movement in Delaware and those who advocate for them, seem to have become more emboldened with the election of Donald Trump as President of the USA. He promised billions of dollars to charter schools. To add salt to that wound, he appointed Betsy DeVos as the next U.S. Secretary of Education. A charter school lover if there ever was one. I have no doubt charter advocates across the country are feeling almost empowered by these events. Supporters of public education are very worried about what will happen to further erode an education system that has been in place long before the very idea of a charter school was introduced.
In Delaware, Kendall Massett will continue to have great relationships with the Dept. of Education and the State Board of Education. She will exert her influence on the General Assembly. If any bill is introduced that will negatively impact charter schools, she will wield her power and influence to put a stop to it. She is backed by some very powerful forces in Delaware that will not be trifled with in any way. But none of these forces see what their choices and decisions make to education as a whole. If charters and districts were funded the same way as the vo-tech schools in Delaware, I don’t think the issues with charter schools in the state would be as big. But this parasitic relationship between districts and charters is paralyzing to education in Delaware. There are other things that perform the same damaging results, but we can control how this particular relationship evolves. Districts and charters aren’t going anywhere. If charters want to co-exist with districts and have true and meaningful collaboration, they have to stop these games. And Kendall Massett, as the spokeswoman for the charters, will have to take on a different mantra. It isn’t a question of choice at this point, it is an answer that demands immediate implementation. Fair goes both ways.
If I were Kendall Massett, I would actually recommend the Christina Board of Education rescinds their vote on the settlement. Funding is important, but shaking down a district like this which will only tick off the other districts in the state, is not something to be proud of. It is not a victory when students continue to pay the price.
The Delaware Dept. of Education held the third meeting of the Strategic Plan for Specialized Education Opportunities in Delaware today. I can’t even make an abbreviation out of that one. Do not be confused with the Strategic Plan for Special Education that the DOE is also working on. In any event, Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams was NOT a happy camper. While she is not a member of this committee, she attended the meeting and had some words to say to the DOE.
Apparently this committee came about as a result of an amendment on House Bill #56, the Wilmington charter school moratorium legislation signed by Governor Markell in 2015. The Dept. was tasked with reviewing all educational opportunities in the state including charter, district, and vo-tech. The DOE contracted with Public Consulting Group (PCG) to write up the report which came out last December. PCG continued to work on the strategic plan and came out with another report in October. In the October report, PCG made a reference to a District-Charter Collaboration Task Force. Which is ironic since they didn’t post minutes nor did they come out with a final report.
At one point during the meeting today, Delaware Senator David Sokola mentioned a need for low-income and special education information on school choice applications. David Blowman from the Delaware DOE allowed me to speak and I mentioned how the Enrollment Preferences Task Force, of which Sokola was a member, voted in the majority that information like that should not be on choice applications. I mentioned that it was recommendations from the task force but it showed a clear decision to not have those items on choice applications. Blowman agreed with me and said those items should not be on applications. This prompted Rep. Williams to speak…
In August, Rep. Williams contacted the DOE about this strategic plan. She contacted PCG and discussed the Enrollment Preferences Task Force, which met for a year and a half, kept all their minutes, and came out with a mammoth-sized final report which was sent to the DOE and the General Assembly. She emailed a link to PCG. Nothing even mentioning the Enrollment Preferences Task Force made it into PCG’s October report. Williams blasted the DOE for this by stating she failed to understand how this strategic plan is meant to provide opportunities for ALL students. She was clearly (and understandably) upset the report gave no mention to a task force she devoted a year and a half to. But the District-Charter Collaboration Task Force, which had severe issues with transparency and no final report. It was obvious to many in the audience that this oversight was not simply a mistake on PCG’s report. I know for a fact the Delaware DOE and State Board of Education Executive Director Donna Johnson worked with PCG on their initial report which came out a few days before the final report for the Enrollment Preferences Task Force came out.
Senator Sokola asked Williams why she didn’t introduce legislation based on the recommendations of the task force during the last legislative session. Williams explained that the legislation wouldn’t have come out until March of this year and everyone was very wrapped up in the WEIC redistricting plan. Sokola said he can see that. But Williams did say she will be introducing legislation based on those recommendations when the General Assembly comes back in January. Williams argued that if she didn’t look at the October report from PCG and she didn’t attend this meeting, the DOE wouldn’t have even thought to mention the work 27 members of the task force worked on for a year and a half into this strategic plan. There was no clear response from Blowman or Susan Haberstroh (also with the DOE).
Williams mentioned the glaring omission two times. Eventually, Haberstroh assured the committee and Rep. Williams the Enrollment Preference Task Force report would be a part of the strategic plan. This was supposed to be the last meeting of this committee but once the subject of enrollment barriers came up it was obvious the committee would need to meet again which all agreed to.
There is something about this committee that seems off. Sokola and State Rep. Earl Jaques talked about the Christina School District a few times when talking about surplus school seats. As well, the subject of empty buildings districts own came up. I always find it to be odd when Sokola and Jaques, who are in their seats primarily because of voters from the Christina School District, tear into them. I didn’t trust it when Sokola mentioned having information on choice applications he knew damn well shouldn’t be on there.
When Jeff Klein with the University of Delaware presented a report on choice applications by zip code, he did say there was a section in Maryland. Sokola mentioned it could be a teacher sending their child to a Delaware school. Which I assume to be Newark Charter School. The DOE responded by saying it would be illegal for Delaware to pay for a Maryland student in a Delaware school. Sokola had a puzzled look on his face…
Kendall Massett with the Delaware Charter Schools Network asked a question similar to one she asked at the meeting a few weeks ago. She questioned why, as an example, if Woodbridge and Delmar school districts wanted a culinary program but didn’t have enough students to have a program, why they couldn’t push for opening a charter school to serve that need. Heath Chasanov with Woodbridge explained they do have a program with Delmar that Del Tech coordinates. I don’t fault Kendall for asking the question, but it would be more financially feasible for the districts to work together to offer programs in coordination as opposed to opening a brand new charter school that may or not fail. This was echoed by David Blowman.
I did find out, 100%, that there are NO plans for Prestige Academy to merge into EastSide Charter School and Family Foundations. Massett did explain that all the Wilmington charters are working with Prestige for a smooth transition for the students when the charter closes at the end of the year.
To read the reports PCG came out with in October, please see below.
A week ago, I published an article about the Alleyne Consortium. They wanted to give Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky some suggestions for the Delaware Dept. of Education’s Every Student Succeeds Act first draft of their state plan. A source was able to give me the emails Alleyne sent to Godowsky. The irony that Secretary Godowsky didn’t respond to Alleyne is not lost on me.
From: Atnre Alleyne <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 11:23 AM
Subject: An Open Letter: Opportunities for Delaware under the Every Student Succeeds Act
Dear Secretary Godowsky,
I am writing to share an open letter (see attached) a collection of 20+ Delaware community and business organizations crafted to provide an initial set of recommendations regarding Delaware’s implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in Delaware. Specifically, this first letter from our group focuses on school accountability and reporting under ESSA.
The diverse set of organizations that came together around this statement did so because we believe ESSA offers us an opportunity to turn the tide for Delaware students and renew our commitment and urgency toward ensuring equity for every student. As a group, we recognize that while there are examples of success in Delaware’s education system, our system has a long way to go before we can claim every Delaware student is receiving the high-quality education he or she deserves.
Where possible, many of our organizations have participated in the opportunities created by the Delaware Department of Education to provide input on the transition to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for the state. Some of us also have the opportunity to directly provide feedback on the state’s ESSA plan as members of the Governor’s ESSA Advisory Committee.
We compiled this letter understanding that, in order for the state’s implementation of ESSA to be successful, advocates and community groups need to play a more active role in pushing the system toward excellence.
Thank you in advance for considering the recommendations above as the state develops its ESSA plan.
Hell no, he didn’t try to get Rodel and the gang to usurp Delaware’s ESSA plan, did he? He sure did. But nine days later, not only did he email Godowsky again but he made a broad claim that more organizations joined in.
Good Morning Secretary Godowsky,
I hope all is well with you. Last week I emailed to share an open letter a collection of 23 Delaware community and business organizations crafted to provide an initial set of recommendations regarding Delaware’s implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in Delaware.
As we have not yet received a response from the Delaware Department of Education, we are sending the letter again. I have also copied the members of the ESSA Advisory Committee so that they can consider the perspective of the community groups represented via this letter as they review the DDOE’s ESSA plan.
The version of the letter attached to this email now includes 24 Delaware organizations. Thank you in advance for considering the recommendations in the attached letter as the state develops its ESSA plan.
Now this is the funny part. Because in Alleyne’s march towards educational excellence, he seems to have forgotten to count. He put, in bold, there are now 24 organizations. In looking at this letter, I only saw 23. I blame Common Core for this.
I didn’t miss something here, did I? I counted 23. Luckily, I wasn’t raised with the Common Core standards. I imagine everyone at the Delaware DOE is given the Clockwork Orange brainwashing with Common Core so I am able to understand how 23 becomes 24 in Alleyne’s world. Unless he forgot to put in one of the pretty pictures for a 24th organization. But, I must admit, Alleyne did inspire me. Oh, how he inspired me. He is absolutely right. We DO need more input on this state plan. Much more! And I plan to get that. Because there is no way in hell Alleyne, Rodel, Teach For America, the Delaware Charter Schools Network, the Delaware Business Roundtable and TeenSHARP are going to steal this plan. So be on the lookout for my “stealing the thunder” plan. It will be marvelous! Okay, bad terminology to use in this day and age, but you get my point!
Awesome. Simply awesome. A non-profit company incorporated in Delaware can get all their funding from tax-payer local school districts, have their 501c3 status as a non-profit revoked, not file tax returns, and the State of Delaware doesn’t care. Earlier this afternoon, I wrote about how this exact scenario happened with the Delaware School Boards Association (DSBA). Two hours later, I contacted the Delaware Division of Corporations. Delaware doesn’t seem to care if a corporation files tax returns or not. There is no oversight mechanism in the State of Delaware to enforce anything related to federal tax filings. The Division of Corporations advised me that someone would have to get an attorney and go through the courts. Excuse me?
So DSBA can gouge school districts out of tons of money, but they will go to bat for them on legislation and counsel school boards on how to make sure board members have the most up-to-date board training. But they fail to show any transparency for how much money they receive, how they spend it, and what their losses are. That is just wonderful. What exactly does this organization do for school districts? They are glorified lobbyists taking funds out of schools.
I attended my local school board meeting a couple of months ago. One of the items on their agenda was “legislative priorities”. One of those priorities concerned special education and due process hearings. DSBA wanted my district to advocate for something that had never applied to their district. Why does everything in Delaware have to have some type of “association” attached to it? Once we centralize every group in the state, who watches that centralizing group? I’m sure for the members of DSBA, and those who sit on DSBA’s board, it looks great on the resume. “Look at me, I’m not only on a school board but also on the board of DSBA.”
Please… spare me the righteous indignation. How ironic that in this National School Boards Association guidance to state associations they offer the following advice:
State school boards associations have been established to provide a state-level network for members of local school boards to achieve common goals, support shared improvement efforts, and explore such widespread issues as board member training, policies, statewide needs, state and federal initiatives, and state and federal funding. Improving student achievement also must be a goal since it is the top priority of the state association’s members.
I am pretty ticked off about this as you can tell. Is it any wonder our state is corrupt as hell? What does our state offer oversight on when it comes to financial matters and transparency? It’s not like DSBA’s Facebook page tells us a lot.
Apparently, it is a-ok for DSBA to instill certain codes of ethics on local school boards, but when it comes to that ethical thing like FILING TAX RETURNS FOR YOUR NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION WITH THE IRS, those ethics aren’t important.
…the Code of Ethics is recommended by the Delaware School Boards Association as a guide to its members as they strive to render effective and efficient service to their respective communities.
But according to DSBA’s website, this is their role in Delaware:
DSBA offers their members:
- Developing statewide legislative and funding priorities for public education in conjunction with the Legislative Committee and member boards;
- Monitoring the impact and progress of legislation introduced in the General Assembly which may affect the programs, operation, funding or administration of school districts;
- Planning and presenting orientation and training programs designed to enhance the effectiveness of school board members;
- Providing local school boards with information concerning those issues and activities which affect school districts;
- Coordinating legal services or local board efforts in those instances where boards share common concerns and goals; and
- Serving as liaison between school boards and other educational organizations or State agencies.
Can I add one?
- Show no transparency for how we spend taxpayer funneled money but thanks for your contributions chumps!
From their “membership” list of Delaware school boards, not every district board is a member of DSBA. Only 13 out of 19 are currently members: Brandywine, Cape Henlopen, Capital, Colonial, Lake Forest, Laurel, New Castle Co. Vo-Tech, Poly-tech, Red Clay, Seaford, Smyrna, Sussex Tech and Woodbridge. As well, the Delaware State Board of Education is also a member. So it looks like Appoquinimink, Caesar Rodney, Christina, Delmar, Indian River, and Milford have very wise boards who decided not to join this non-transparent organization.
DSBA is led by Executive Director John Marinucci and an Administrative Assistant named Linda Murphy. That’s it. That is their entire staff. They have an office in Dover. But of course many Delaware school board members govern the whole thing and decide what legislative priorities are best for school boards, even if those legislative priorities don’t even affect a member school district. So who are these elected officials and Governor-appointed Delaware board members, running 13 out of 19 Delaware school districts, who serve in another capacity for an organization that doesn’t file IRS 990 Non-Profit tax returns? Thanks for asking!
Officers- President: Joseph Brumskill (Brandywine), 1st Vice-President: Jennifer Burton (Cape Henlopen), 2nd Vice-President: Matthew Lindell (Capital), Treasurer: Cynthia Brown (Poly-tech), Director of Special Affairs: John Skrobot (Brandywine)
Other members of the Board of Directors: Ralph Ackerman (Brandywine), Bobby Benjamin (Colonial), Nina Lou Bunting (Delaware State Board of Education), John Schulties (Lake Forest), Brent Nichols (Laurel), John Lynch (New Castle Co. Vo-Tech), Martin Wilson (Red Clay), David Tull (Seaford), Chris Malec (Smyrna), George Torbert (Sussex Tech), and Walter Gilefski (Woodbridge)
Legislative Committee: Ralph Ackerman (Brandywine), Dr. Roni Posner (Cape Henlopen), John Martin, Jr. (Capital), Leo Magee (Colonial), Barbara Rutt (Delaware State Board of Education), Ronda Swenson (Lake Forest), Brent Nichols (Laurel), Mark Stellini (New Castle Co. Vo-Tech), Nancy Cook (Poly-tech), Kenneth Woods (Red Clay), Jeffrey Benson, Jr. (Seaford), Ron Eby (Smyrna), John Oliver (Sussex Tech), and Walter Rudy (Woodbridge)
They also have corporate members! Those are Stecher Financial Group, Johnson Controls, and Adelphia Furniture Inc. Two of those companies aren’t even out of Delaware!
On their calendar they have ZERO events on it, so we don’t even know when this organization and their various officers and legislative committees even meet. This is like the evil twin of the Delaware Charter Schools Network. For all the bitching I do about them, at least DCSN files their IRS 990 501c3 tax returns. Oh yeah, that’s because they didn’t get their status revoked for failing to file NINE YEARS. 28 school board members throughout the state. Do they get paid for their service to DSBA? We don’t know cause the non-profit doesn’t file a tax return!
My bad, the Delaware Online Checkbook changed over to the new Delaware Open Data Portal thing Governor Markell officially launched yesterday. So I can see that Delaware School Boards Association received $210,177 in FY2016. Here is the breakdown by district:
Cape Henlopen: $32,600.00
Delaware Department of Education: $13,930.50
Lake Forest: $10,300.00
New Castle Co. Vo-Tech: $8,784.50
Red Clay: $26,322.00
Sussex Tech: $4,862.00
And the following two school districts, who aren’t even members, didn’t seem to mind paying DSBA in FY2016:
Appoquinimink: $5,400 (cost per student: $1.92)
Indian River (dropped DSBA in fall of 2016): $3,000.00
But the fun doesn’t stop there. Because not only does DSBA bill school boards for dues, but also food, instructional supplies, and computer supplies. And it doesn’t matter if it is paid out of the Delaware Special Fund or the Delaware General Fund. Keep in mind all the below amounts are out of the overall totals listed above, but some of these categories are outlandish given the scope of what DSBA does. Ones I colored in red are potential audit red flags (I know, stop laughing)!
Appoquinimink: Computer Supplies– $2,700.00
Cape Henlopen: Computer Supplies– $9,100.00
Colonial: Instructional Supplies– $8,100.00
Colonial: Meals w/in State (Breakfast/Dinner)- $349.66
Lake Forest: Computer Supplies– $34.00
Lake Forest: Equipment Rental-$2,700.00
Lake Forest: Food- $173.00
Red Clay: Other Professional Service- $8,100.00
Seaford: Instructional Supplies– $8,100.00
Woodbridge: Other Professional Service- $421.50
Delaware Department of Education: Training- $208.50
I’m sorry, but in what kind of world does DSBA, which amounts to a lobbyist organization, provide computer and instructional supplies? Did Lake Forest rent a crane or something from DSBA? I didn’t see a school supply or rental tab on their website. And why do districts code these expenses all over the map? The food amounts would have been higher if other districts didn’t code it as association dues. So we elect school board members who go to meetings at DSBA, which gets over $200,000 of taxpayer money with a staff of two, and those school board members charge their districts for food? Are you frigging kidding me? And why is Cape Henlopen, who has half the amount of students in their district as Appoquinimink or Cape Henlopen, paying DSBA the most out of all the districts? And Woodbridge only has 2,466 students but DSBA gets over $18,000 from them? There is something seriously funky going on with this. Some of these districts are paying obscene amounts to this non-profit (who doesn’t file tax returns as a non-profit).
And don’t think for one minute it didn’t dawn on me that the Delaware Dept. of Education, who pretty much decides who sits on task forces and committees, and always seems to find room for someone from DSBA on them, pays a lobbyist organization who helps LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS over $13,000.00. I see Mr. Marinucci at most of the meetings I attend these days when the DOE is involved, especially ones around the Every Student Succeeds Act. I know, that is what lobbyists do! But when I see school boards wasting time with legislative priorities that don’t even concern their school district, an obscene amount of taxpayer money going to a non-profit that doesn’t bother to file tax returns, school districts coding expenses for this non-profit under whatever category they want (probably to get funds from the state and not out of their local funds), and the same organization not filing tax returns as a non-profit for almost a decade, I have some pretty major beefs with this organization.
The Cape Gazette did an article on DSBA on July 31st, 2015, a month after Indian River voted not to rejoin. They spoke with the First Vice-President, Jennifer Burton:
Cape Henlopen school board member Jen Burton serves as first vice chairman for the DSBA. She said membership is worth the $9,000 a year Cape pays, even though the association is going through some changes.
But when that membership becomes 3 1/2 times more than that $9,000 a year, what is the worth then Ms. Burton? Apparently Indian River didn’t feel the same way:
Indian River School District Board of Education withdrew July 13 from the Delaware School Board Association, saying $13,000 the district would have paid in dues could be better spent elsewhere.
“The Board came to the conclusion that its DSBA membership was no longer productive and that continuing to pay thousands of dollars in dues to the organization was not a responsible use of taxpayers’ money,” Hudson said.
But I guess it is okay for Indian River to use this organization for FREE at the expense of other district’s taxpayer money, right? Which means part of my school taxes, along with every other Capital School District resident, are going to pay for Indian River to rejoin something they felt wasn’t a responsible use of money? I guess when it is free, that’s okay. I don’t think so! I don’t pay local school taxes for Indian River. I pay them for Capital. And if I were citizens in the other DSBA districts, I would be upset too. I don’t elect school board members so they can help bail out other districts who don’t know how to spend their own money. If they want a bail-out on their DSBA dues, go to the state. That’s why I pay state taxes, not local taxes. DSBA has a lot of nerve asking other districts to do this. And yes, if you are not an employee of DSBA but serve as an elected official for your school district but serve on one of their boards or committees, you are acting as DSBA. Don’t believe me? Listen to Colonial’s Board of Education discuss this during their October 11th board meeting. Go towards the bottom of the page on this link to hear it.
In a presentation on DSBA, it was announced that the board of DSBA voted to allow Indian River to rejoin DSBA with full voting rights for free because of their “financial distress”. Yeah, distress caused by themselves. Just wait until that audit comes out! But let’s give them DSBA services for free! Colonial board member Melodie Spotts, upon hearing that DSBA hasn’t filed their tax return for nine years, put forth a motion to remove their membership in DSBA. The motion was defeated 4-3. Spotts was concerned how it would look after their board just voted to go out for a referendum. There was a lot of talk about promoting transparency around their refernedum and the appearance of paying membership fees to an organization that doesn’t appear to have financial transparency.
So DSBA, care to cough up nine years worth of tax returns and show the citizens of the state who elect school board members if they truly are getting their money’s worth?
On September 2nd, Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky and Assistant Deputy Secretary David Blowman met with Greg Meece, Stephen Dressel, Joanne Schlossberg, Chuck Taylor, Margie Lopez-Waite, Kendall Massett, and William Manning at Newark Charter School. The last name is important because William Manning is the lead attorney in the lawsuit filed on Tuesday against the Christina School District and the Delaware Department of Education. William Manning is a partner at Saul Ewing LLP, which also happens to be the lead charter school attorney law firm.
Delaware charter schools, especially ones alleged to “cherry-pick” students, have long complained about not getting their rightful share of money while at the same time they constantly boast how they “do more with less”. In fact, Manning complained about this to the U.S. Congress back in 2000, as I wrote in an article last year:
I believe, as do many of you, that charter schools are already improving the educational landscape by offering variety, quality and single-school focus to those who previously had to pay to get those things. That’s the good news. The bad news is that charter schools are still regarded by the educational establishment in some quarters as the enemy. Thus, the organization that owns our school buildings is sometimes stingy with them when it comes to housing charter schools. Nor do the funding formulae in many state charter school bills provide adequate capital- as opposed to operating- assistance to charter schools. Please don’t overlook them.
Manning served as the President of the Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education when the original Delaware charter school law was written in 1995. But where this gets more interesting is Manning’s very direct tie with the Delaware Charter Schools Network. His wife, Martha Manning, created the Delaware Charter Schools Network. She is also on the boards of Innovative Schools and the Red Clay Education Foundation.
Martha Manning stepped down from the Delaware Charter Schools Network in 2006, but her husband is still heavily involved with Saul Ewing LLP. It was not a coincidence he was called in for the Sept. 2nd meeting at Newark Charter School, mentioned above. Chuck Taylor is the Head of School and Providence Creek Academy, the President of the Delaware Charter Schools Network, and a member of the Charter School Accountability Committee at the Delaware Dept. of Education. Margie Lopez-Waite runs Las Americas ASPIRAS. And Kendall Massett… good old Kendall… who gave a presentation at the State Board of Education meeting last month on, of all possible things, charter and district collaboration. The irony is still astounding! Kendall gave a quote to the News Journal yesterday:
Kendall Massett, director of the Delaware Charter Schools Network, said in a prepared statement, “We applaud the state Department of Education for recognizing the out-of-proportion exclusion requests from Christina School District this year and for taking steps to bring them in line, in the interest of fairness for students and to make the process consistent among all districts. But that decision was reversed after the deadline mandated by state law.”
Whatever Kendall! Many decisions were made without full clarity. In fact, the whole process beginning with the NCS Trio getting a meeting with David Blowman wasn’t readily shared with all district financial officers. In fact, we can see how the Delaware DOE actually blew off Robert Silber when he asked the DOE why they wanted a list of district exclusions.
This was why State Rep. John Kowalko submitted a request to Secretary Godowsky in early September for a list of who was involved and specific dates. Godowsky did provide that timeline and specific names to Rep. Kowalko on September 20th. Rep. Kowalko asked me to share this with the public so that everyone knows what the specific timeline was and who was involved in each step. In addition, there are several emails from the Delaware DOE to charter and school leaders.
From: May Alison <email@example.com>
Sent: Tuesday, September 20, 2016 10:45 AM
To: Kowalko, John (LegHall)
Cc: Godowsky, Steven (K12)
Subject: information request
Please find answers embedded in red below as well as attached copies of email correspondence in response to your questions.
I need to know the details of the meeting in April which was attended by Greg Meece, Joanne Schlossberg, Stephen Dressel and David Blowman, with a list of anyone else who attended that meeting, whether from DOE, State Board, or other (for instance the DE Charter Schools Network, etc.). I would like to know if any legislators attended that meeting. I am also asking if there were additional meetings with any smaller groups discussing this matter and who were attendees. I want to know if there were any unannounced meetings w/CFOs or Superintendents regarding this issue. I realize the DOE has monthly meetings, usually separate, with all the charter and district CFOs. Has anyone else attended these meetings?
Those four were the only ones at the meeting, which occurred at the request of the school.
Please send me a timeline of events, including:
When the CFOs were notified about submitting a list of excluded information (in May as I’ve been made aware by one district) and whether the notification went to all districts and when was that list due.
*Discussed at April 8 Business Managers meeting (see agenda from April 7 email attached)
*Follow-up email sent May 25 (see attached)
*Christina response received June 8 (see attached)
Which individuals took part in the decision-making process regarding which exclusions were allowable or not allowable by DOE
*David Blowman, Brook Hughes and Kim Wheatley
When (specific date needed) the new allowable exclusion list was sent to CFOs/Superintendents
*August 8 (see attached)
When (specific date) charters were notified so they could send their bills to DOE to send to districts
*August 12 (see attached)
When (specific date) DOE sent those bills to the districts
*August 16 (see attached)
When Bob Silber (Christina CFO) was notified of the exclusion issue with Christina
*See above dates
Please send a list of all persons that attended the meeting at Newark Charter last week. Steve Godowsky, David Blowman, Greg Meece, Joanne Schlossberg, Stephen Dressel, Margie Lopez-Waite, Bill Manning, Chuck Taylor, Kendall Massett
As you can surmise I expect a list of any and all attendees at any meeting discussing this issue. Please send an accurate report of this information to me as soon as possible.
This also was discussed with superintendents at their September 1 Chief School Officers Association (CSOA) meeting at POLYTECH.
And this is what the Delaware DOE sent to State Rep. Kowalko in terms of email discussions concerning this issue. Note the absence of any emails from the Newark Charter School trio to anyone at the DOE prior to April 8th when they would have requested the initial meeting with Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education David Blowman.
In the complaint against Christina and the DOE, it states the charters want a full accounting of what funds were excluded from the local payments to charters going back to 2008. Why 2008? At that time, the Superintendent of the Christina School District was Lillian Lowery. Shortly after Governor Markell’s first inauguration in 2009, Lillian Lowery was confirmed by the Delaware Senate to become the Delaware Secretary of Education. The looming question is what was signed off on back in 2008 and 2009 by the Delaware DOE. Obviously, NCS feels this is some type of crucial timeframe which pertains to the lawsuit. But the even bigger question is who was giving them information and why. I’ve heard some wild tales about that timeframe. But until I am able to confirm anything, I will remain mum.
The News Journal just reported that a group of Delaware charter schools are suing Christina School District and the Delaware Dept. of Education over the charter school funding issue that I broke at the end of August. This is unbelievable! I can’t believe they have the unmitigated gall to go behind the districts’ backs all Spring, have the DOE issue “updated” funding formulas in August, and then sue Christina and the DOE after Secretary Godowsky reversed course on the plan.
And who does the News Journal have as a fresh picture, taken two days ago? None other than Kendall Massett with the Delaware Charter Schools Network. When Newark Charter School’s Head of School Greg Meece and Kendall Massett get together, we should expect nothing but trouble. For all of Massett’s talk about wanting district and charter collaboration, she sure has a funny way of showing it.
Fifteen charter schools have filed suit against the state Department of Education and Christina School District to get what they claim is their fair share of funding. Christina has been withholding millions of dollars in local tax revenue from charter schools for years and the Department of Education has been complicit, according to the lawsuit.
Their fair share of funding is what they already get. I actually can’t wait to see this go to court. I will say it here and now… the charter schools will lose! Who is paying for their attorney fees?
Under the adjusted formula, Christina School District would have had to pay about $3 million more this year than it had been planning. For Newark Charter School, one of the chief beneficiaries of those funds, that would have meant an additional $1 million in revenue.
I said it before, and I’ll say it again… this amounts to Greg Meece going for an unprecedented money grab for Christina after they won their referendum last Spring. And I also have a pretty good idea why he thinks the charters will win. But I will hold that close to the vest for now. But that one goes all the way to the top of Delaware, right Jack? So how far back does this lawsuit go? How about 2008!
The lawsuit aims at reinstating the adjustments made to the statewide formula and forcing Christina to pay back what it has withheld since 2008.
Newark Charter knows that if they win this would bankrupt Christina which I have no doubt is their overall plan. And what then? All of Christina goes back to the state and would most likely convert to charters. Is Meece going to lead his long dreamed of Newark Charter School Network and take all those kids he didn’t want for the past 15 years? I know what happened in 2008 when a former Christina Board member told Meece they would get additional funds from their referendum but the board member spoke out of turn. Ever since, Meece has been gunning for Christina because of bad information. I also have a pretty good idea of where Meece got certain information from that is making him think he has a case. That will be the true revelation when all is revealed!
I would have to assume these fifteen charters are the ones that get funding from Christina School District, which is most likely every one in New Castle County.