The Davies-McGuiness-Spadola Gambit

With four days until the Delaware 2018 Primary, the State Auditor’s race is gaining a TON of attraction this year.  While some may suggest McGuiness has this locked up, I beg to differ.  There are two scenarios that will play out.  Whoever wins the Primary will determine who wins the General Election in November. Continue reading

Candidate Message: Kathleen Davies, State Auditor, Democrat

The Delaware State Auditor race has been one of the hottest tickets of the election season.  There are many reasons for this in what is usually a quiet race.  The biggest factor is long-time State Auditor Tom Wagner not running after a 29 year stint in office.  Kathleen Davies served as Tom Wagner’s second-in-command for many years and announced her run to take over Tom Wagner’s seat.  Davies faces her Democrat contenders Kathy McGuiness and Dennis Williams in the Primary next Thursday, September 6th.  The winner of the Primary will face Republican James Spadola for the General Election.

Continue reading

Chris Johnson, Kathleen Davies, Kerri Harris, Rob Arlett & Lee Murphy Win Big In Primary Polls!

Three days ago, I posted polls for the biggest tickets in the Delaware Primary.  I ran them for Delaware Attorney General (Democrat), Delaware State Auditor (Democrat), U.S. Senator (Democrat), U.S. Senator (Republican), and U.S. Representative (Republican). Continue reading

State Auditor Race Heats Up As Kathleen Davies Files As A Dem For Three-Way Primary

One of the biggest events next September will be the primary race for the Delaware State Auditor.  Current State Auditor Wagner is retiring and so far, three have filed to run under the Democrat banner.  Today, Kathleen Davies filed.  Facing off against Kathleen McGuiness and Dennis Williams, I see Davies as the strongest candidate with experience that leap-frogs and catapults over the other two.  She is EXACTLY what Delaware needs and will by far do the best job should she win.

While there are some unanswered questions regarding her paid leave from the Auditor’s office, you simply do not pay someone for that long if they did something as egregious as what appeared in the News Journal in 2016.  I firmly believe there is much more to that than meets the eye and someone wanted her to shut up and took swift action.  But it is a new day and a new administration in Delaware.  It is past time the sun shined brightly on The First State and the best place for that is in the State Auditor’s office.

Indian River CFO Patrick Miller Retires Amidst State Audit Of District Finances

The Chief Financial Officer of the Indian River School District, Patrick Miller, will be able to retire according to  Jon Budler with Delaware 105.9.  Miller was put on paid administrative leave last month after allegations surface of financial malfeasance.  The Delaware State Auditor’s office is conducting an audit of the district’s finances.

As per the article, Miller will be able to keep his pension but his retirement will save the district the burden of paying his $162,258 yearly salary during what could be a lengthy state audit process.  Miller was also the subject of an audit with Brandywine School District when he had the same title there in the 1990s.  He began his stint with Indian River in 1998 but the state audit report did not come out until 2000.

As per Indian River Board President Dr. Don Hattier:

This is what we’re stuck with. If Mr. Miller is allowed to retire, at least he’s off our payroll which safes the district a ton of money. I believe that’s what the public wants us to do.

What’s Going On In Indian River School District?

I found an article this morning from Kelli Steele with Delaware 105.9 about Indian River School District’s Chief Financial Officer, Patrick Miller.  He was placed on paid administrative leave without any explanation to the public.  This isn’t the first time Miller has been under the microscope:

Miller came to the Indian River School District from the Brandywine School District where he resigned from his position as acting supervisor of the business office in September 1998, after he pleaded NO contest to a criminal charge arising from the State Auditor’s nearly two-year investigation of District finances.

Of course, the school district isn’t going to come out and say why he was put on paid administrative leave as of April 24th because they have to protect personnel.  But how much money are we talking here?  I saw a link on Twitter that Indian River is now live streaming their board meetings.  Of course I saw this after their last board meeting.  If anyone knows what is going on here, feel free to reach out to me.

Senator Sokola & Newark Charter School’s Smoking Gun With The IRS

All charter schools in Delaware except Newark Charter School file 990 tax forms to the Internal Revenue Service.  Charters are considered 501c3 corporations.  501c3 corporations are tax-exempt companies.  Most non-profits, like Rodel, fall under this category.  Unless they meet very certain criteria, they are required to file Form 990 with the IRS.  Could this be why Delaware Senator David Sokola, who lives in a district which also contains much of Newark Charter School’s five mile radius, is so opposed to House Bill 186?  It wouldn’t be the first time Senator Sokola has gone to bat for NCS.

In 1995, before any charter schools even opened in Delaware, the IRS issued new regulations concerning 501c3 corporations.   It allowed very specific exemptions from 501c3 organizations from filing their 990 form.  The IRS ruling was straight forward: if you were a governmental unit and a 501 company, you didn’t have to file.  There were very strict guidelines for what constitutes a “governmental unit”: Continue reading

Providence Creek Academy State Audit Inspection Released: Rehab Costs, Las Vegas Trip, & P-Card Abuses

The Delaware Auditor of Accounts just released an inspection report on Providence Creek Academy showing many violations in procurement card spending and very questionable payroll expenses.  The office was tipped off over a year ago, around the same time as Family Foundations Academy, about alleged financial improprieties at the school, as well as the Delaware Department of Education.  Abuses revolved around personal purchases through the State of Delaware p-card, payroll expenses that were not justified, and even a conference in Las Vegas in the Summer of 2014 that four employees of the school attended (as did representatives from Academy of Dover and Family Foundations Academy).  The school’s auditor from 2012 to 2014 found none of this in their annual audits of the school.

While the abuses were not in the scope of Academy of Dover or Family Foundations Academy, they are still illegal and against the law.  Please support State Rep. Kim Williams House Bill 186 to help prevent these abuses from being missed by the charter school auditors and to bring transparency to light before these investigative inspections even have to occur.  Senator David Sokola’s Senate Bill 171 does nothing to stop these events from happening.

Delaware College Prep & Delaware Military Academy Also Up For Charter Renewal…Will Delaware College Prep Survive?

Charter Schools authorized by the Red Clay Consolidated School District go through charter renewals, modifications, and formal reviews through Red Clay, not the Delaware Department of Education.  Both Delaware Military Academy and Delaware College Prep are up for charter renewal this year.  Delaware College Prep was in the news very recently when the State Auditor found some financial abuse going on by the school leader.  Kilroy’s Delaware has raised several red flags about this school in the past six months.  They are also on probation status based on their formal review last year for academic performance.  Here is their charter renewal application:

And the exhibits and other information that are mentioned in the application can be found here:

Interesting that they have no parent representative on their school board as of October 1st, but they are “actively looking”.  Here is the agenda for this portion of the Red Clay Consolidated Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, 10/21/15:

Last year, we saw Moyer and Reach Academy close.  Two years before that, Pencader Business School closed.  Will we have two more Delaware charters close this  year?  Delaware College Prep and The Delaware Met?  And what will fill the void?  New charter applications in Wilmington have a moratorium until at least 2017.  What I can see is more charters submitting modification requests to increase their enrollment.  In the meantime, keep an eye out on Delaware College Prep.  Just because the DOE doesn’t cover this is not an indicator that Red Clay won’t hold them accountable.  I would love to see their reaction to the State Auditor report!

Campus Community School, Providence Creek Academy, & MOT Charter School: Charter Renewal Initial Reports

Last Tuesday, the Charter School Accountability Committee at the Delaware Department of Education held their initial charter renewal meetings with Campus Community School, Providence Creek Academy, and MOT Charter School.  Included below are the initial reports for each school.  The other day I wrote about Response To Intervention (RTI) and how it is frequently used for special education identification purposes.  Pay close attention to the following reports in regards to RTI and when it is used.

Organizationally and financially, Campus Community looks to be in good shape.  Academically, they clearly have some things to work on, based on DOE standards.  Especially with science, according to them.  I find it interesting they are moving to “standards-based” grading.

How can you have a meeting like this and not once mention the fact that you are being investigated by the state auditor?  Yes, they did the right thing with it, but I’m shocked no one at the DOE actually brought it up.  Something seemed really off with what PCA was saying in regards to their academics.  And what was Chuck Taylor talking about with the whole “we have a pond” thing at the end?  And make a mental note on when PCA said most students get an IEP and the fact that students from Kindergarten to 3rd grade do not get basic special education funding…

Like I said last Spring, MOT’s charter renewal looks to be a slam dunk.  The fact that they were investigated by the State Auditor and cleared of any wrongdoing will only support this.

My prediction with all three: all three will be renewed with PCA possibly going on probationary status because of the State Auditor thing, but I doubt that will happen.  Unless something comes out of the woodwork like Family Foundations Academy did last year, this will be an easy process.  Besides, DOE is going to have their hands full with The Delaware Met!

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

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


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

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

Contact: Kelly Bachman, 302-299-9791

                                                                                        

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Bill Signing: Senate Bill 57, Senate Bill 101

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

Who:     Governor Markell

State legislators

Regulation division leaders

Healthcare professionals

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

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

*****

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

###


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


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

Exceptional Delaware


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

Kevin,

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

Alison


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

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

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


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

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


E

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



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

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


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

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


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

Christina School District Board of Education President Minnehan Has No Knowledge Of Audit

Within the past ten minutes I also received the below email from Christina Board of Education President Harrie Ellen Minnehan regarding the suspicion of an audit with the Delaware State Auditor’s office.  Once again, there is NO audit taking place based on the article I put up a few minutes ago, but there was DEFINITELY a phone call made to the State Auditor’s office by two board members.  This gets more interesting by the minute!

To
  • Kevin Ohlandt
Kevin,

I have just returned home within the past 20 minutes after being out all day which is why I did not respond to this email earlier, so your time ultimatum was missed.  (I cannot always retrieve Outlook /Christina email on my phone so I don’t bother with it.)

I have no information (of the real/authentic or of the dangerous rumor type) about an audit.  Have not heard anything at all about that and I assume if it were legitimate  we would have been apprised.

Harrie Ellen

State Auditor’s Office Confirms No Financial Or Investigate Audit On Christina School District

Freeman Williams sent another email to me regarding the “Christina Audit” question.  There are two standard audits that are performed for every school district in the state, but as Obi-Wan Kenobi so brilliantly said, “These are not the droids you’re looking for…”

To
  • Kevin Ohlandt

Kevin,

I have some additional information for you. The State Auditor’s Office, Kathleen Davies, the Chief Administrative Auditor, responded to the following question: Are there any open audits?
Her response was that there are two current Open Audits:
1.      State of Delaware Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) – Christina School District as an Agency of the State is included in this audit.
2.      State of Delaware Fiscal Year Single Audit – Federal and Local Funds

She added that these noted are Statewide Audits that occur this time of year.

She also responded that there are no Investigations or Financial Audits involving the Christina School District.

Freeman

Freeman L  Williams, Ed. D.
Superintendent
Christina School District
600 N. Lombard St.
Wilmington, DE 19801
302-552-2661

Well, this definitely squashes an official investigation into Christina School District, but a call was made to the auditor’s office, which I’m being told is very similar to a recent comment made on here, and it did come from two board members.  The question is, what do the other five board members do about it?  While I can’t reveal the whodunit, I can say this will cause a lot of issues on the board.  If the district needed to be audited, it would have happened.  I don’t take issue with that.  Nor do I take issue with any citizen anonymously reporting to the State Auditor’s office.  What I do take issue with is two board members doing this, and not reporting it to the rest of the board, no matter what the result was.  It is not illegal, what this dynamic duo did, but it comes down to a matter of teamwork and trust.

Christina Superintendent Freeman Williams Responds To Question Of State Audit

Christina School District Superintendent Freeman Williams just sent an email to me in regards to my direct question of whether or not Christina is under investigation by the Delaware State Auditor.  Before I post his response, I have it on very good authority that the two board members did contact the Delaware DOE who in turn sent the two board members to the State Auditor’s office because any information the DOE gave the auditor’s office would be hearsay.  The two board members did proceed.

The email from Freeman Williams:

To
  • Kevin Ohlandt
  • WILLIAMS FREEMAN

An individual at the House Education Committee meeting on 6/17/15 did have direct knowledge of this information and was shocked when Kathleen Davies said no traditional school district was under investigation by the State Auditor’s office based on this knowledge.  It appears the State Auditor’s office didn’t feel the information supplied to them was enough to open an investigation.  If this was the case, than why are board members going to the State Auditor’s office with information like this?  What would they hope to gain?  The next board meeting at Christina will be VERY interesting!

Providence Creek Academy Singing The P-Card Blues During State Auditor Visits!!!!

Providence Creek Academy’s board minutes for June confirm explicitly why the Delaware State Auditor is investigating them.  Once again, it is for unauthorized use of a state-issued purchase card.  But whodunit?

I can say one thing for sure: it’s not Chuck Taylor.  I’ve heard who it was, but all I can say is the person no longer works there.  But what I can give credit to Chuck for is the quote in the article I posted earlier this morning:

“Head of School Report: School is completed for this year.  This year should go down in the history books as gone for good and never have history repeat itself.  We need to learn from the past.”

Providence Creek did have one hell of a year.  Between janitors with guns on the property, an administrator’s son getting canned for inappropriate internet use (and he was the tech guy), an outgoing employee allegedly threatening to “blow up the school” most likely in jest but still deemed enough of a credible threat to have Delaware Homeland Security come in, and then the craziest part: they hire a head of school who gets deathly ill from some weird bug poisoning in the Bahamas.

I have to admit, when I read what Chuck wrote up above, I cracked up.  Oh, and we can’t forget the bizarre Facebook posts stemming from the first three incidents, the whole Chuck-Delaware Charter Schools Network-Charter School Accountability Committee controversy, and the whole reveal of the school being investigated by the State Auditor, revealed nowhere else but the school’s own board minutes!  This is why they got an A+ for transparency.  And just to top all of this off, they are up for charter renewal this fall!  Below are the board minutes with the purchase card stuff:

House Bill 186 Is #1 With A Bullet, Aimed Directly At Charter School Accountability

The Delaware House of Representatives released their House Agenda for their last day of legislative session until January 2016.  The first item on the agenda is State Rep. Kim William’s House Bill 186.  These are the reasons this bill needs to pass:

1) Noel Rodriguez & Academy of Dover- $127,000 in personal spending and another $129,000 the State Auditor isn’t sure was used for school or personal spending.  As well, an anonymous source informed me two other staff members at the school were also pilfering funds, and this was reported to the FBI, but nothing has come from any of that…

2) Family Foundations Academy, Sean Moore & Tennell Brewington- over $90,000 in person spending between this dynamic duo, with hundreds of thousands of dollars in other questionable spending performed by this school during their reign.  The State Auditor’s report hasn’t come out yet on this one, but it will be a doozy that may make Academy of Dover look weak in comparison.

3) Delaware Military Academy & Jack Wintermantel- while out of the news, this 2013 State Auditor investigation found numerous financial violations at this school.  Source: http://auditor.delaware.gov/Reports/FY2013/DMA%20Investigative%20Report.pdf

4) The seeming inability for many charter schools to accurately code items correctly on the state financing website, as indicated by what is shown on Delaware Online Checkbook.  In some situations, funds are allocated in areas that have absolutely nothing to do with why the funds were spent, i.e. Academy of Dover putting a payment for an out of state residential treatment center under “Employee Recognition”.  Furthermore, putting students names in a special education settlement transaction on Delaware Online Checkbook is a clear violation of FERPA legislation but schools continue to do this.

5) Section 347 of Paragraph 508 of Title 14: This special designation for charter schools allows them to keep the unused portion of their transportation funds for “educational purposes”, but there is no clear mention of what those “educational purposes” can be, or where the funds should be directed on an accounting level.  In the past two fiscal years, over $2.4 million dollars was kept by Delaware charter schools, with Family Foundations Academy and Newark Charter School each keeping over $400,000 EACH from this caveat.

6) As indicated by the ten charter school performance fund applications I just posted, most schools don’t have a clue about finances and what funds can go to which allotment.

7) The Delaware Charter School Network is vehemently opposed to this bill- while they have a right to be concerned about the cost of audits, the cost to taxpayers over the complete and utter disregard of how taxpayer funds are spent as well as the strain and disruption this places on all education in Delaware makes it very clear more oversight is needed over the Wild West of Finances occurring in our charter schools.  As well, at least two of the current or former members of their governing board are/were heads of school at two of the charter schools that are being investigated, and one of them sits on the Charter School Accountability Committee at the Delaware DOE

8) The DOE is not in a position to do anything about this: through a complete lack of oversight over the charter schools they authorize, the DOE has never caught fraud in the act.  They do not monitor they money flowing in and out of these schools

9) Lack of oversight at the charter schools themselves- many charter schools just started having a Citizens Budget Oversight Committee this year.  This has been in state code for years.  As well, a DOE representative is supposed to be at each meeting for each school.  If some of these schools that have operated for years never had a DOE rep at their non-existent CBOC meetings, than the DOE fell asleep at the wheel but they are never held accountable.

10) In discussing House Bill 186, the State Auditor’s office said seven charter schools are under investigation.  We know Academy of Dover, Family Foundations Academy, and Providence Creek Academy are three, but who are the other four?  Judging by their board minutes, Thomas Edison Charter School may be one, but who are the other three and why are they being investigated?

Kendall Massett at the Delaware Charter Schools Network is fighting like a House Bill 50 parent proponent, but she is against this bill.  She has emails going out every day begging parents to email legislators to stop this bill.  Should what is essentially a lobbyist firm receive that much free reign to stop a bill?  What is Kendall so afraid of?  Is there something much, much bigger yet to be discovered?  That wouldn’t shock me at all.

Thomas Edison Charter School Confirms Communication With State Auditor’s Office, Minutes Show Hiding Information From Independent Auditors & Slams Smarter Balanced Assessment

In their April 27th board minutes, Thomas Edison revealed they have been in communication with the Delaware State Auditor’s office.  While it doesn’t go into specifics, there is a lot of discussion about how to reveal contingency items and how to hide them…

“Mr. Christie stated that to Mr. Velasquez point we have a total of $104,250.00, that we’re saying we have spent this on contingency, but we haven’t really.  Mr. Blocksom asked if this makes us look bad and how would the auditors look at this.  Mrs. Winder stated that our external auditors wouldn’t recognize it, but not quite sure how the State would react.”

As well, the school absolutely kills it in discussion about the Smarter Balanced Assessment which they only refer to as “the test”.  Every Delaware Senator needs to read this report before the vote tomorrow.

The Delaware House of Representatives also need to read this and Pete Schwartzkopf needs to get House Bill 186 on the agenda tomorrow, the Senate needs to suspend Senate rules and skip the Senate Education Committee meeting for this bill, and get House Bill 186 passed before midnight June 30th.  This is a shining examples of how Delaware charter schools openly flaunt their disdain for state code and regulation in terms of financial matters.  They also need to do the same for House Bill 61 and get these charter schools recording all their board minutes and place them on their websites within seven business days.  The days of Delaware charters making their own rules are coming to an end.  And nothing Kendall Massett and the Delaware Charter Schools Network or all the backers, investors, and “non-profit” foundations do is going to stop this.

Hell Hath No Fury Like A State Rep Scorned! Seven Charter Schools Under Investigation By State Auditor!!!!!

Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams is mad as hell, and she is making it known!  The reason for her anger?  Her Delaware charter school audit bill, House Bill 186, is facing some fierce opposition.  But why?  Find out here, from her State Rep. Facebook page:

PLEASE READ VERY IMPORTANT!!!!!! Our teachers are held accountable, students are held accountable, don’t you think our public tax dollars should also have accountability?

Academy of Dover since 2010-2011 has not met or fell far below the financial standards set forth by the Department of Education and the Charter School Accountability Committee. The charter school office reported to the State Board of Education yesterday that in early April they learned of serious allegations of financial management by a former Academy of Dover school leader. Their financial framework for the last three years have shown there have been financial issues. I brought a bill forward which would require all charter schools to be audited through the Auditor’s Office, currently all public schools are audited through this office except for charter schools, and the House republicans sitting on the House Education Committee voted against the bill that I sponsored; House Bill 186. Family Foundation this year had issues with two former co-directors misusing the public’s money, over $90,0000, and now we have Academy of Dover who is now under investigation by the Auditor’s Office for misuse of public funds. The Delaware Charter Schools Network were there on Wednesday lobbying legislators hard not to support my bill. This is a great bill and it should be released from Committee. I have eight Democrats who are willing to sign the bill backer. During the State Board of Education meeting you hear one board member stating that the Financial Framework would not have caught this. Another board member stated this is happening a lot. DOE Charter School Office stated that Academy of Dover has been working for years on a payment plan, so does that mean folks knew for years this was going on. House Bill 186 needs to be released and voted on the House floor.

If you have never met Kim Williams, she doesn’t seem the type to get mad.  However, once she is, you know it pretty fast.  I’ve seen her and she isn’t the yelling and screaming type, but she is very direct and firm.  I can completely understand why she is so upset about this bill.  Charters, many of them, have been pilfering taxpayer funds for a long time now.  At the House Education Committee on Wednesday, a representative from the State Auditor’s office confirmed seven charter schools are under investigation in their office and no traditional school districts are at all (which squashes the rumors I heard about two school districts in our state being investigated over there).  Three are known: Academy of Dover, Family Foundations Academy and Providence Creek Academy.  Who are the other four?  That’s 31.8% of the charters in this state!

Patrick Heffernan with the Delaware State Board of Education raised a very good point the other day.  The settlement with Mosaica was $650,000.00.  Academy of Dover plopped down $200,000 right away, and has $150,000 due 7/3/15 and another payment of $150,000 by 7/31/15.  Then they will pay $50,000 once a year for 3 years after.  So that’s $500,000 they will pay by the end of July.  Where does all this money come from?  This is taxpayer money they have been tucking away somewhere waiting for this rainy day.  This is funding that should be going to students.  Now I understand why they were being so cheap about paying their paraprofessionals an extra buck or two an hour when they were asked to substitute teach!

Write you state representative today and demand accountability for charter schools!

Providence Creek Academy Also Under Review By Delaware State Auditor

As highlighted in the below letter, Providence Creek Academy is also having the State Auditor’s office looking into their finances. This would be the third charter school in Delaware to have this publicly announced in less than six months. I posted an article not even two weeks ago where the State Auditor’s office did confirm they are reviewing other charters aside from the publicly known Academy of Dover and Family Foundations Academy. Now we have a third. How many more are there and why isn’t this public knowledge?

Of particular interest in this school is the fact they switched to the same independent auditor that Family Foundations Academy used for their annual audit last year. I pointed it out back in December, and it looks like Tom Wagner’s office noticed it too. Providence Creek Academy, along with Campus Community School and MOT Charter are up for charter renewal in the 2015-2016 school year.

It has become obvious the Delaware Department of Education knows what schools are under review by the State Auditor’s office. They need to disclose all of this information to the public instead of releasing this information piecemeal. It’s not just certain Delaware charter schools with issues of transparency, it’s also the Delaware DOE Charter School Office.

House Bill 53: Charters Must Be Audited By State Auditor

Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams introduced legislation that would make Delaware charter schools have to go through the same auditing process as school districts and vocational districts with their yearly audit.  Since 2010, charters have been exempt from being audited by the Delaware State Auditor’s office, currently run by Tom Wagner.

In light of financial improprieties by Family Foundations Academy, Pencader and a slew of other charters that has not yet come into public notice, this bill is timely and important.  The charters have the ability now to hire an independent auditor, but this bill would change all that and would cause the charters to be audited the same way all other public schools in Delaware are required to.