After weeks of work, all of the Delaware Public Education salaries over $100,000 have been posted with a few exceptions. Those are four charter schools who either did not respond or will in the next couple of days. But there is more than enough data to make some sense out of all this. Many asked why I was posting these. There were several reasons: requests, comparisons, money tracking, and general curiosity. But the main reason was to see if I could answer the age-old question- “Are there too many administrators?” Finally, I am prepared to answer that. Continue reading “Delaware Public Education Salaries Over $100,000: Rankings, Student Cost, Ratios, $$$ Totals, & Synopsis”
As per the Delaware Department of Education website, the DOE employs 241 people. 66 of them make over $100,000 based on a Freedom of Information Act request I submitted to them on February 28th. This is eight more than what the News Journal reported four years ago. At that time, the DOE had extra employees as part of their limited Race To The Top federal grant. Continue reading “Delaware Department Of Education Salaries Over $100,000”
The State Board of Education, with a 5-0 vote and 1 abstention, declared Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security will not close. The State Board’s vote gives DAPSS another year to prove themselves. But there are new conditions.
The Charter School Accountability Committee recommended the school stay open for another year as long as they have a student enrollment of 200 students by May 1st, along with other conditions including utilizing their partnership with the Colonial School District. Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting agreed with CSAC’s recommendation with many revisions. She agreed with everything the CSAC recommended but wanted to know by June 29th if Colonial or Las Americas ASPIRAS would help to fill vacant staff positions and a transition plan should the school choose to make Colonial it’s . This must be in agreement with Colonial. If the board doesn’t meet all their conditions by June 29th, their charter will automatically be revoked. Bunting wants more transparency with the whole process. She also wants all teachers to be certified and the charter handed back to the Delaware DOE by mid-2019 so they can begin the transition to Colonial. Bunting had a total of eight conditions.
State Board President Dennis Loftus requested monthly reports to the State Board. His biggest concern was, if the school should close, that students would have enough time to transition to different schools by the new school year. State Board member Wali Rushdan said he was satisfied with Bunting’s recommendation and this allayed many of his concerns about the staff being certified and highly qualified. He expressed the need for a strategic plan, one of Bunting’s recommendations. Executive Director Donna Johnson asked about the recommendation concerning Colonial and ASPIRA helping out with staffing vacancies. Charter School Office Director Denise Stouffer clarified they would receive support by those highly qualified instructors from Colonial or ASPIRA. Loftus wanted to make it clear that DAPSS would either transition to Colonial for charter authorization or they would cease to exist. What happens if Colonial changes their mind?
I predicted this would be the outcome but I was happy to see Secretary Bunting add additional recommendations.
The first battle for HS1 for House Bill #287 was won today as the Delaware House Education Committee released it from committee. This puts the special education legislation on the Ready list for a full House vote.
All were in favor of the release except for State Rep. Deb Heffernan who voted no and State Rep. Stephanie Bolden who abstained. There was a great deal of discussion about the bill and who exactly it represents among Delaware special education students. Mary Ann Mieczkowski, the Director of the Exceptional Children Resources Group at the Delaware Department of Education, attempted to answer these questions to committee members. The diploma with modified standards would apply to a very small population of Delaware students, approximately 1% of them. These are students with severe disabilities that affect their ability to perform relative to their peers.
Currently, these students receive a “certificate of performance”. Which means they are not allowed to check up the Diploma box on job applications. They are unable to have the opportunity to apply for many jobs. For parents of these children, as so aptly put by parent John Young, it is a resignation for their children that is very difficult to accept.
Much of the conversation was about the gap group of special education students between those this would apply to and those who receive a high school diploma. To qualify for this bill, you have to be approved by your IEP team to take the alternative state assessment. But that is only a little over 1% of Delaware students. Our special education numbers hover around 15-16%. Some of those students who do qualify for the Smarter Balanced Assessment have a difficult time passing rigorous high school courses and are unable to graduate. Many legislators wanted to see numbers from the Delaware DOE on this.
One public comment, given by Robert Overmiller, said this bill would be lying to these students. The Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens, of which Overmiller is a member, had public comment from member Kathie Cherry. She felt it was important to note that Overmiller’s views on the bill did not reflect the overwhelming majority of the council who are in support of the bill. While I do agree with Overmiller on many education issues, I felt his opposition to this bill was unfair but he is certainly entitled to his opinion.
Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting gave the DOE’s approval of the bill, as did Delaware Autism, the Delaware Association of School Administrators, the Delaware School Boards Association, and parents.
This is an important victory for this bill. It still has a long way to go but I like the track it is going in.
Recently, a Gateway Lab School board member reached out to the former leader of the Delaware Military Academy, Chuck Baldwin, for potential recommendations for Gateway. This was presented at one of their recent board meetings in public session, therefore, this is a public document. The letter gives certain… well, I’ll let you read it and tell me what you think! I’m pretty sure those with their Delaware military charter history can guess his date error at first glance but I wanted to present the document as is! Continue reading “Ex Delaware Military Academy Leader’s Letter To Gateway Lab School Gives Stunning Insight On Charter Schools”
After months of waiting, I received an email from the Delaware Department of Education that their 2016-2017 Annual Bullying Report was completed and up on their website. While I am unable to take a deep dive into this and compare it to previous years, I did want to get it out there for folks to view. When I asked the DOE last week about the status of the report, they did explain the area that handles the report went through a leadership turnover in the past few months which is understandable for the delay.
Elizabeth Scheinberg, a former Christina Board of Education member, wrote a “redline” response to Atnre Alleyne’s letter to the editor in the News Journal that appeared last week.
It’s time to redline. The following opinion was published by the News Journal on 2/28. It was authored by education advocate Atnre Alleyne. Alleyne is the founder and executive director of an education advocacy organization, DelawareCAN: The Delaware Campaign for Achievement Now.
As a Christina parent and former Christina Board Member, I am compelled to set right the history that Alleyne has twisted to fit his vision an education crisis in Christina. Though I do not always agree with Christina, it’s still mine, it owns me as much as I own it. I live within it, advocate for students and parents in its schools and advise any members of the Christina leadership team who seeks my sentiments or strategies for improving our school system.
The Christina school board has perfected the art of pushing paperwork that produces little progress for Wilmington kids. Mr. Alleyne provides a beautiful set-up for an us verses them conversation. However, despite the highway between Newark and Wilmington the onerous paper-pushing affects every child, teacher, leader in the district. Much of it is the direct result of the same MOUs that Alleyne refers to below.
Its members recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Gov. Carney’s office designed to take a bolder approach to education in a district whose graduation rate has dropped each of the last three years and is the lowest in the state (69 percent). Gov. Carney’s approach is no bolder than the deeply flawed Race to the Top, a program that several school boards across the state adopted under the duress of the Delaware Department of Education. I clearly remember the night when former Sec. of Education Lillian Lowery told our board that should we not approve her MOU and join, the changes set forth in the MOU would become law and Christina would have to fund them locally. Did they become law? Some. Did they improve education statewide? No. The longitudinal data is in – as Alleyne cites above – turning education into a competition was not a sustainable model nor did the interventions result in sustained improvements in the graduation rate.
Yet, as interesting as some of the details of the MOU may sound, experience tells us they are sure to fail. With a school board that has failed to follow through on previous reforms, Christina School District’s kids will not see change until we address the deep dysfunction of its school board. We agree that these new reforms will fail. Few have yet to unlock the wardrobe door to Narnia of education. I don’t believe that Carney has the key. These previous MOUS failed because Christina properly identified schools in crisis in both the city and suburbs, BUT has been unable to fund the treatment of the needs and ails of the children served within. When we look upon our lowest performing students, we find children who live in dire poverty among violence with little access to critical nutrition and often credible adult guidance needed to navigate their personal world. These children carry their heavy burdens to school where they act out, not because they want to misbehave but because they’ve been taught that even negative attention is better than no attention at all. Of course, Christina’s board could throw every penny of local education dollars at these societal concerns, but without the other administrative agencies who are far more competent to combat the socio-emotional-economic inflictions putting their own boots on the ground, Christina will still fail.
First, we blamed the teachers. Now, we blame the board.
You know you are dealing with a school board that is committed to inaction when the governor needs to attend Christina’s board meetings to plead and prod them to do what a high-functioning board would do without prompting. Nearly half of the state’s bottom 5 percent schools are in the Christina School District, 38 percent of kids from Christina now attend non-district schools and the district is wasting taxpayer dollars with most of their schools currently less than half full.
Alleyne, you don’t know the half of it. But, first, to address the falsehoods. Because a board of individually publicly elected members parse and due diligence does not make that board low-functioning. Christina is constantly being bombarded by the state and the department of education with mandates to implement as part of whatever the latest MOU demands. These MOUs come with strings attached, prescribed funding, and allow for little local control. To keep all the parts moving is a juggling act for which few would apply. One need only look at CSD’s vacant Director of Special Education position to understand exactly what is being asked of the individuals we hire. Christina expects them to perform to the best of their abilities and invests in their development. Carney and his private department of education, like those before him, demand that these individuals play god. That is the essence of test-fail-punish. I sat on the dais when Christina’s Board finally stood up to its bully, Jack Markell, and said no more to Race to the Top. I believe we saved our district millions of dollars in doing so while defunding mandates that provided no sustainable change. I believe we were taking steps to re-stabilize our students in schools that the MOU had blown off their foundation. Race to the Top took the last good thing our desperate children had – it took away the one final constant – the security of school. It took away teachers who knew them and loved them and reinvigorated the “voluntary transfer” process as teachers fled the strings of RTTT demands that did not comport with their education and teaching preparations. And for all that RTTT money we spent, each and every dollar we received was accounted for and dispersed for the benefit of the children as prescribed by the MOU. Christina didn’t push papers. We did get thwacked by Lillian Lowery in a closed meeting for openly challenging the process and progress that was occurring. We were admonished for the sincere scrutiny of some of the more active board members. The DOE literally went on the attack with no respect for the fact that we were legally elected unpaid servants who provided our own professional development often at our own cost, and that we represented not one interest, but the interest of every child and tax payer in our district. That is the balancing act before the board. How far can you push the tax payers to support the kids before the tax payers start saying no. In Christina there has been a resounding no to referendums. It’s nearly impossible to pass one on the first try and that means no more MOUs that come without the necessary funding to be sustainable in the long term. Not four years, not eight, but in perpetuity because what is most likely to be successful is a rather expensive proposition.
As to your half empty buildings. Roughly 20 years ago, under Lillian Lowery, Christina attempted to close several city schools to address the very concerns listed while also becoming more in line with the Neighborhood Schools Act. The rubber stamping school board of those times blindly followed Lowery’ s lead. However, the City of Wilmington sued and won and Christina was required to continue operating aging, under-utilized facilities without additional income to ensure their maintenance. It has been openly accepted since then, that the only way a city school will be closed is by the Governor himself. The City of Wilmington shoulders the full fault of these cash-draining buildings and the effects on the district, the board, the kids, and their communities. And true to form, what has always been predicted has come true. City closures by the Governor himself.
Christina does have several other unnecessary assets. The park across from Drew perceived to be a city park, is owned by Christina. Each overdose, each injury, each gun shot, each condom, each knife, each addict that calls that park home creates more liability for the district. Sell the park. It truly belongs to the City and Wilmington should invest in purchasing it. If the city declines, sell it for construction or turn it into a pay lot. It’s proximity to the heart of the business district lends it some real value.
Move on to Eden. Eden, though utilized by some departments, needs to be levelled. It sits on several desirable acres in a growing commercial region. The district could orchestrate a buy-out that would divide the parcel and provide for a new Eden built to suit the needs of the district. Or sell it entirely and renovate another underused asset to house the department currently homed there.
Yet Gov. Carney (and Gov. Jack Markell before him) have had to expend significant energy and political capital just to get the district to sign a piece of paper committing to real action. Seriously? Expend political capital? Did they really need to call in all the favors due them to get Christina to sign a piece of paper? Are Christina’s School Board members that influential that Carney spent political capital to compel Christina to following his plan? No. It took one Governor, Carney, to write a meaningful figure on that piece of paper as proof to a board that has been hosed by DOE for years, one signature that ensures enough money will in fact follow the plans on the paper. The only significant expense of energy has been what DOE put into desecrating Christina’s reputation.
That it takes ultimatums, lawsuits, federal investigations and hand-holding from the highest levels of our state government. It would not be so bad if the district actually had a track record of delivering on their commitments. They don’t. Christina delivers on commitments every day. Ask the children that leave its schools, what did you learn today? You might be surprised what they tell you.
Just two years ago, on March 4, 2016, the Christina School District signed a similar agreement with the Delaware Department of Education by which it committed to implementing reforms that would dramatically improve their lowest-performing schools.
Yet Christina school board member Harrie Ellen Minnehan remarked: “None of the actions designated in the doc were put into place as stated but the monies did go to the Wilmington city schools. I believe (Secretary) Godowsky wanted it signed strictly for audit purposes.” When and where is this remark? A statement out of context is just a statement out of context.
With no intention to deliver and no true accountability from the state, Christina School District has mastered this game of sign and switch. Cute, “sign and switch.” I feel like you’ve just inked an MOU on a new board game. Having had to live with those MOUs, I can tell you that I felt accountability every day and I believe that our current board members do the same. They don’t all agree on how to do it, but they all have one commitment, to see that children like mine and yours receive a good education. Mine is receiving a fantastic education in a new program that has a waiting list of students who want to be there. This is Christina going to back to its roots and implementing innovation to bring back those students you’ve already mentioned as having fled. They fled for lack of choice, not for lack of faith.
In 2014, the Christina school board released a three-year strategic plan that took a school year to develop. They called it “Imagining the Future for Christina” and, like the MOUs, it addressed the essentials for creating a high-performing district.
But in The News Journal last September, Vice President Fred Polaski said the plan was never put into action. Instead, it was “put on the shelf” and none of the goals in the plan were met before it expired in 2017. Please let me provide the context of Polaski’s comment:
” Conversations about priority schools, state takeovers and redistricting have distracted from the real issues, the school board’s vice president Fred Polaski said, leaving little energy or appetite to focus on anything else.
The district’s most recent strategic plan, which took an entire school year to put together, was basically “put on a shelf,” he said.
“There was so much in it, you couldn’t get it all done in the timeframes we hoped for,” he said. “We never sat down and said ‘OK, we can’t do all of it. What can we do?'” -The News Journal, Sept. 22, 2017.
These comments ran beneath a headline that proclaimed “CHRISTINA EMBARKS ON MASSIVE TURNAROUND TO HELP WILMINGTON STUDENTS.” Clearly, these comments, in context, do not satisfy the paper-pushing assertion. There has been no “Sign and Switch” here.
With Polaski’s comment in full context, I think many “interventions” perpetrated on the district by our government and DOE prevented the full implementation of that strategic plan. RTTT consumed one, leaving no funds left to implement a separate plan. In my opinion our strategic plan at the time was utter obfuscation to the extent that some members wanted their names removed, including mine. The next plan was being conceived when I retired my board service. That plan was interrupted by Markell and the DOE and their aspirations for those schools that fell in the bottom 5% of the state and the fate of the Wilmington schools. Now, Christina is again back to the drawing board. This time under the weight of the unknown – what will happen to our Wilmington children? What will be our financial obligation when all the schools are retrofitted and when new busing patterns are designed and implemented? Who will sit in the dual generational academy and provide services to our Wilmington children? How will CSD pass a referendum to continue adding new choice options? What will happen to the excessed buildings? Carney has already promised to exclude them from Charters seeking to lease them. But, who else wants a school building? Will they be mothballed? Will we continue to pay utilities there? What will be the cost of new curriculum that is sensitive to the needs of these students? What teachers will want to VT in or out of the schools? It is almost impossible to bear forward an amazing actionable plan when you have so many unknowns with which to bear. And no one has said a single word about the carve-out MOU that must be approved by the Christina’s unions as Carney’s interventions require work that is currently outside the scope of the current union contract.
In 2013, the state withheld $2.3 million of the Christina School District’s funds for failing to deliver on its commitments. In 2011, the state was close to withholding $11 million from the Christina School District for reneging on a previous agreement. I absolutely support the 2013 board action that resulted in the state withholding of $2.3 million in Race to the Top Funds. Christina did not want them. The prevailing board members believe that our students would be better off if we ceased to operate the failing interventions tied to those funds. In 2011, Christina made the final payment on its $20 million loan from the state – one year early. My board then jeopardized the district allotment of $11 million in RTTT. Why? As was widely reported, our human resources department in conjunction with our former superintendent strayed from the plan regarding the evaluation and hiring of teachers in our Partnership Zone Schools. Christina did not act to refuse the funds. The board wanted the hiring process repeated with fidelity. What we learned from our lawyer, after the fact, was that fidelity is not a legal measure. Compliance is. What our HR and Super had done technically fell within the bounds of Substantial Compliance and our board was forced to revote the issue, after which the State pushed the funds into the district to begin turnaround. We took fire from every direction because we wanted to do RTTT right, sticking to the measure we had agreed to with the state and while also holding the state accountable on their end. To that extent, the board had an independent leader review the RTTT monthly efforts and outcomes in the partnership zone schools and report to us directly to ensure we were receiving true information and not the sugar-coated kind. This is leadership. Seven members, each elected, with seven different experience and interpretations of the job before them. Of course, there is going to be debate, intense, thoughtful, sometimes painful and intense debate. But, when you are looking at the large sums of money and the strings attached, a board member must advocate and compromise their positions. What lies before them must be thoroughly vetted before we subject students, staff, parents, and tax payers to what we’ve been required to transform.
This pattern of ineffective leadership is bad for taxpayers. It is even worse for the many students and families who desperately need Christina’s schools to be of the highest quality. The leadership, though at time troubled, is similar to the leadership of many other boards in our state. A down state board member is lighting up the press today. None of us have lost sight, even those who have come and gone, of the need for CSD to be of high quality. I can honestly say that I believe my son is receiving a comparable education in his CSD choice program to that of our effective local charter schools. I also believe that the Strategic Plan should capitalize on the success of this first ,agnet endeavor. I urge our school board to keep pushing forward despite the changing landscape as DOE demands.
But because this year’s Christina School District drama features a new governor, a new secretary of education, a new Christina School District superintendent and a few new players, we are expected to act like we have not seen how this script ends. We are expected to be comfortable with handing over an additional $15 million to a district that has not been asked to account for how it spent previous dollars designated for improving its schools. Christina has absolutely accounted for the spending of every dollar. Read the online check book. Visit the P-Card page. Ask questions of the financial director. Go to a CBOC meeting. This information is transparent and available for free to all.
How can we be excited about the promises of the latest MOU when the district has failed to honor its longstanding IOU to our kids? This district has been constrained from being creative and expanding its offerings because of the RTTT/Partnership Zone, bottom 5% school mandates, Smarter Balance, etc. Christina spent so much time and money providing exactly what the MOUs said, despite the pain of knowing that the interventions when observed from a longitudinal lens were going to fail as they failed everywhere else. The question that should be asked is, how is Carney going to ensure the interventions he’s directed are going to succeed. What data can he provide? As I can surely show you mine.
In 2020, my daughter will be starting kindergarten and her current feeder pattern would have her headed to Stubbs Elementary. If we continue our current path, 2020 will bring yet another year in which fewer than 10 Stubbs students are proficient in math and fewer than 20 are proficient in reading. Your daughter is fortunate. Her father is a well-read, though deceptive, educated advocate. Based on the most recent plan I’ve read, your daughter will first go to Stubbs as she would if she were old enough to attend kindergarten now. She will spend a year there before she grows her wings and attends one of the two 1-8 schools. That is exactly what you should want for your child. And her success will depend on how you invest in her. Parental involvement does not need to take place within the bounds of building. It happens in homes far more frequently than educators recognize.
That is not the future I want for my child or any of the children of the Christina School District. Again, I am beyond satisfied in the education my son is receiving in CSD. I have lived with one foot in each a traditional district and the other in various charters. I have transferred my children, at times, to have access to better special education service providers, to allow my children to attend the same school at the same time for at least part of their young lives, and even for familial convenience. I currently have one child bused curb to curb and another requires a carpool due to a lack of busing.
So state leaders should definitely provide the students and educators in Christina’s Wilmington schools the additional investment and support needed. Wait, are we back to Wilmington-specific education again? You slip and slide with all the facts you’ve mangled. But only after they find a way to give our community a school board that represents us and can deliver the results our kids deserve. Alleyne, I am not your enemy. In fact, I think that Wilmington should have an ad-hoc committee of education experts overseeing these funds. I also think that the success and/or failure should lie on their shoulders and not that of the current board. I would support CSD in creating a committee of education leaders from within our city district’s boundaries to oversee the application of the funds.
I look forward to the day I see Mr. Alleyne run for school board member. He just may find that the map to success is far more complex that he current credits.
Atnre Alleyne is the founder and executive director of an education advocacy organization, DelawareCAN: The Delaware Campaign for Achievement Now.
Elizabeth Scheinberg is the co-founder of a community partnership that provides children with autism and their families free recreation designed to address sensory and social needs in a safe environment. Her daughter was also the inspiration between Glasgow Park’s Hi5 Park for children with autism. Before writing this redline, she has slain 8 dragons before breakfast and thought of 8 more absolutely impossible things to overcome.
House Bill 340, signed by Governor Markell in 2014, demands public schools do at least two intruder/lockdown drills a school year. But Newark Charter School hasn’t had one this school year or last school year according to sources. Most schools that have these type of drills tell parents ahead of time. My own son’s school has. I’m not sure why Newark Charter thinks they don’t have to conduct these drills.
In the wake of the shooting in Florida last week that caused a former student to go on a rampage and slaughter 17 innocent lives, it is more imperative than ever that our schools are prepared for these type of scenarios. Delaware’s law concerning these drills is part of the Omnibus School Safety Act. Schools are required to report these drills to the Delaware Department of Homeland Security. Do we now need a section of their website with a checklist of each school that complied with the law? Sounds like it. What are the ramifications for not reporting or conducting these drills? Like most in Delaware, probably a phone call. Sorry, NCS doesn’t get a pass on this no matter how “great” their test scores are!
For a few months there, I had a great source at the Delaware Department of Education. When Delaware MET went down at the end of 2015, there was a lot I didn’t publish about what was going on there. You will find out why shortly. I’m glad I trusted my gut and didn’t send Wilmington into chaos mode. The below emails, between Dave Morgan and myself, not only shed a lot of light on Delaware MET, but also the Delaware DOE itself. Different names are thrown around in these emails. Going back and reading these is always fun! The last email between Dave Morgan and myself is particularly enlightening given that DAPSS is finally under formal review. The incompetence at the DOE is plain to see in these emails. I wish I could have met Dave in person. I probably did but didn’t know about their secret alias with me. I’ve had a few suspicions over the years, but have been unable to prove it. Some parts of these emails I redacted for a few reasons. That’s my business! Continue reading “Untold Tales: Delaware DOE, Dave Morgan, & Three Days That Scared The Hell Out Of Me”
Sussex Montessori School went through their first Charter School Accountability Committee meeting in their application process. I thought for sure, given this was their second attempt to apply for a charter, they would get it right and everything would be smooth sailing. Instead, their application is missing a lot of information. The committee smacked them up and down the court.
These are my favorite quotes from the report: Continue reading “Sussex Montessori Appears To Be Clueless On Special Education & Basic Charter Formation”
The Delaware Department of Education has not released the state law required annual bullying report for the 2016-2017 school year. As per Title 14 of Delaware State Code:
(4) The Department of Education shall prepare an annual report, which must include a summary of all reported and all substantiated incidences of bullying, a summary of the information gathered under paragraph (b)(2)f. of this section, and the results of audits conducted under paragraph (d)(4) of this section. The Department shall post the report required by this subsection on its website.
I reached out to the Delaware DOE about this a month ago and received a response from the Public Information Officer, Alison May, that it “should be” released at the end of the month. Here we are, a month later, and no report. Which would have put this after the choice window closed in the beginning of January. How can parents make accurate and informed school choice decisions for their children without information like this? Bullying is a very big concern for many parents and it helps to know the numbers for these in Delaware schools. That is, assuming they are reported with fidelity. I recently heard a tale of a high school principal who took a stack of discipline referrals and put them in a shredder without acting on them.
I took a look at earlier years to see when those reports were released:
So why hasn’t the Delaware Dept. of Education released this report yet? Is there some type of issue? The year with a report issued at the latest date in the next school year was the 2015-2016 report. Here we are two and a half months after that date, in Mid-February, and no report.
I checked into other required reports that haven’t come out from the DOE yet. We have yet to see the annual report on Teen Dating Violence. I have to wonder what is going at the DOE under Secretary Bunting’s command. I know they are going through a “reorganization” but they are still required to comply with Delaware law. Annual reports need to be released in a timely fashion. I shouldn’t have to be some citizen watchdog writing about this stuff. I expect to be able to go to the DOE website and find what I’m looking for. I don’t mind doing that but I would rather they just do the right thing to begin with. I would prefer to write about a report instead of a lack of finding one. So what is the repercussion for the DOE not following state code on this? There is none. There is absolutely no accountability except for maybe the Governor calling Bunting and saying “Why am I reading about this on Kevin’s blog? Get the damn report out!” and Bunting saying “Yes sir”. There is no mechanism in Delaware to oversee these kind of things and alert the state agency about not following state law. When it comes to education, I guess that’s me. And people wonder why I seem upset sometimes and claim I never do some due diligence before I post stuff.
It would be my hope that all Delaware schools, be they district or charter, have seen this. I would also hope the Exceptional Children Resources Group, the special education area of the Delaware Department of Education, led by Mary Ann Mieczkowski, circulated this to all our schools. If not, I’ll make sure they get this. And I won’t even charge them! But just in case they haven’t seen this, they may want to read this from top to bottom. Special education is NOT a choice. And you are expected to implement it with fidelity and as per federal law under IDEA. The below document, released by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the United States Department of Education issued guidance about the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision on Endrew F v. Douglas County School District.
McAndrews Law Firm, the premier special education law firm in Delaware, just won a BIG case against the Delaware Department of Education. The basis of their claim was that if a charter school goes under, the DOE is obligated to provide those services. The DOE objected with twelve different claims, all of which were shot down by federal district court! Way to go McAndrews! From their press release:
Last week, we were gratified to report that McAndrews Law Offices had prevailed in an important federal court matter on behalf of children with disabilities who attended charter schools that go out of business. Just two days after prevailing in that important matter, MLO obtained another crucial federal court decision, this time in the state of Delaware, holding that states are responsible to ensure the rights of children and their families are protected when charter schools become defunct.
In MK v. Delaware Department of Education, McAndrews Law Offices negotiated a $30,000 compensatory education fund with a Delaware private charter school as part of a settlement agreement, but the charter school then failed to pay for the compensatory education services and went out of business. On behalf of the family, MLO brought an action against the Delaware Department of Education, asserting that under federal special-education law, the state must step into the shoes of the defunct charter school and provide the child and family their educational rights under federal law. The Delaware Department of Education asserted, in shotgun fashion through a motion to dismiss the case, nearly a dozen claims as to why the state had no responsibility for ensuring that the child received the protections of federal law. These claims were universally rejected by the federal district court, which held that “Congress considered the establishment of a single agency on which to focus responsibility for assuring the right to education of all disabled children to be of paramount importance.” With this motion to dismiss having been denied and the fundamental arguments of the state to avoid liability having been dismissed, a major procedural victory has been obtained on behalf of our Delaware clients.
I wonder which charter school this was? Delaware MET? Prestige Academy? That’s just like the DOE, ducking their responsibility. Do they really not get IDEA? The fact that Delaware does not provide basic special education funding for students in Kindergarten to 3rd grade shows how out of touch they are with special education reality. By relying on Response to Intervention as a “childfind” measure, which is not the identifying criteria for special education under IDEA, the Delaware DOE and our legislators continue to disregard federal law. This is all going to come to a head very soon and Delaware taxpayers will be the ones holding the bag when we have to bail out the state for their horrible special education policies and funding mechanisms. The Delaware ACLU lawsuit over education funding in general will be a drop in the bucket compared to what is coming. DOE needs to get their heads out of their imaginary clouds and start following federal law!!!!!
While all eyes were on the Christina/Carney MOU, something big happened at Colonial School District’s Board of Education meeting. Their Board discussed supporting the struggling charter school, Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security, and eventually attempting to become their authorizer in the coming year. Meanwhile, DAPSS is still under formal review with the Delaware Department of Education. Continue reading “Colonial School District Aims To Become Charter Authorizer For Delaware Academy Of Public Safety & Security”
Last night the Christina Board of Education, in front of a packed house, passed the Memorandum of Understanding between the district, the Delaware Department of Education and Governor John Carney’s office with a 4-2-1 vote. Board members John Young and Elizabeth Paige voted no while member Angela Mitchell abstained. The tense meeting, which lasted over three hours, had Carney sitting in the audience the entire time. While the News Journal, WHYY, and WDEL all came to the meeting, many parts of the meeting were not covered in their articles. Continue reading “As Christina Passes MOU, Carney Wants Charter Students To Come Back To Christina”
Governor Carney and the Delaware Department of Education almost had us. They were THIS close. In another 24 hours or so they could have gotten away with it. Their plan to completely evaporate the Christina School District Wilmington student population will depend on the vote at the Christina Board meeting tomorrow night. But they NEVER told us about the loophole. Does a Memorandum of Understanding give a state Governor the power to “waive” a law? I think not! Continue reading “Breaking News: State Bullies Christina Into MOU That Breaks The Law!”
The Christina Board of Education will finally vote on the Memorandum of Understanding between Governor Carney’s office, the Delaware Department of education, the district and the Board of Education on Tuesday night at Sarah Pyle Academy. Their regular Board of Education meeting begins at 7pm. What’s at stake? Schools closing and consolidating into two schools. Governor Carney’s reputation. The Christina School District Wilmington students in Kindergarten to 8th grade.
Even if you don’t live in Christina, this will be something to watch. It isn’t every day a Governor proposes this kind of action. Some say it is needed while others say it is too much. Some say the Board should vote yes while others say mixing these student populations from different areas of the city is a powder keg waiting to explode. Some say forget the past and keep an open mind while others say Carney’s office doesn’t have the first clue as to what these kids need. We will find out what the Christina Board votes on Tuesday evening.
The below pictures were released by the Christina School District:
If I were Christina, I would want to see a big fat check hand-delivered by John Carney before I put ink to this. They are putting a lot of trust in a state that has continually targeted this one particular district if they vote yes. Sorry, I don’t trust Carney. He has yet to prove he can be trusted.
On the surface, Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security is toast. But many key players in the Delaware education world are busy making plans to make sure that outcome does not happen. How do you get a school way below enrollment to survive? You partner up and you do it fast! Continue reading “The Behind The Scene Plans To Save DAPSS & What The DOE Isn’t Telling Us”
The Delaware Joint Finance Committee is hearing from the Delaware Department of Education for their FY2019 budget at this very moment! Continue reading “Live From Delaware Joint Finance Committee: Delaware DOE Hearing!”
The Delaware Department of Education will present their FY2019 budget to the Delaware Joint Finance Committee tomorrow on Thursday, February 8th at 1pm. With a projected budget surplus for the next fiscal year, the Delaware DOE will assuredly want more of that money. The problem is everyone and their mother wants a chunk of that change! Will they get it?
Last year, in the midst of the budget crisis of 2017, the Joint Finance Committee had tons of questions for Secretary Bunting. Will history repeat itself or will the JFC relax a bit with a projected surplus? I will be there, reporting live from Legislative Hall!