The Delaware Department of Education has finally announced the new leader of their Charter School Office. Leroy Travers, who served as the Head of School at Campus Community, has been chosen.
Travers came to Campus Community in 2013 as Principal. After a couple of years, he became their new Head of School. Travers comes at a very interest time at the Department as seven charter schools are going through their renewal process this fall.
Over at Campus Community, according to their website, it looks like long-time Curriculum Director Heidi Greene is their new Head of School.
This is the longest I’ve seen the Charter School Office without a leader in my almost four and a half years of blogging. Former leader Denise Stouffer left the DOE on June 30th to take over as Head of School at Providence Creek Academy. The role had been vacant until today.
I know Leroy Travers and have found him to be a good guy. Anyone who knows the history of this blog knows my son once attended Campus and there were issues with his special education there. But I will say Travers walked in at the tail-end of that and the hornet’s nest was already swarming. So I bear no ill will towards him for any of that. I sent him a congratulatory email. I sincerely hope he lends more transparency coming from the charter school side of things at the Delaware DOE.
Prior to his time at Campus, Travers was an Assistant Principal at Laurel Middle School from 2009-2013 and was a 4th grade teacher at Laurel Elementary School from 2000-2009. Travers received both his Bachelors Degree and Masters Degree in Education, School Leadership.
While the Delaware Department of Education has not formally announced Chuck Longfellow as their new Associate Secretary of Operations, it looks like his former home, the Appoquinimink School District, let the cat out of the bag on their website. No start date has been announced yet and Longfellow still appears on the Appo website as their Finance Director.
Every year, the Delaware State Board of Education gets to vote on charter school renewals. This year, there are seven charter schools up for renewal. I believe this is a record and will keep the Charter School Office busy from now until then. But this year could be different for these renewals because of events going on the Delaware Department of Education and the State Board of Education that are beyond their control.
Attention, attention! Hear ye, hear ye! Let it be known throughout the land that the Delaware Department of Education will be taking part of a question and answer session with parents of the Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security tomorrow night at the school! Also attending will be Principal Herbert Sheldon and Director of Public Safety David Wainwright. You know, the two guys who were given their walking papers last week. The soon-to-be leaving Denise Stouffer who runs the Charter School Office will also be attending this once in a lifetime (literally because she is leaving the DOE at the end of this fiscal year to run Providence Creek Academy) event. If you didn’t get your parent letter about this, the meeting starts at 6pm in the all-purpose room of the school.
So what is on the agenda? As per their website:
The Academy’s vision and mission is not changing
DAPSS is not becoming ASPIRA High School
Personnel changes were due to enrollment, budget, and certification requirements
Personnel committee has been formed and is actively working to provide insight and will release public report on or about May 24, 2018
Rumor has it Board President Margie Lopez-Waite will not be in attendance. Which, if true, is certainly interesting. Especially since the reasons for this meeting are based on changes she began. I would think she would attend, but perhaps she has to recover from their board meeting last week. I did check the Las Americas ASPIRAS website and I do not see anything scheduled for tomorrow evening which would prevent her from attending. Their board meeting is on Thursday. But it does look like the Smarter Balanced Assessment will be given to students all week long. I’ve always loved how many charter schools get to take it later in the year when the students have more instruction towards the tests. But I digress.
So why is Denise Stouffer going in Margie’s stead? Beats me. Is she also on the personnel committee that will get so much insight in a week? I did hear she went to the school last week and talked to students and told them not to believe the horrible and nasty lies on the web. In other words, all those social media posts and this very blog. Denise and I have a history. A weird one. Not the easiest person to get a straight answer from. So good luck with THAT tomorrow night DAPSS parents! Not sure what would be more important for Margie that she wouldn’t squeeze this into her schedule. It could be personal, but since she created this pony show I would think DAPSS would hold it on Tuesday or Wednesday night. But what do I know? I’m just a damn blogger.
I knew Providence Creek Academy had no choice but to finally find a new Head of School after their “three-year search”. Chuck Taylor was never supposed to stay that long. It was, after all, just a coincidence he stayed for three years at a greatly increased salary of $170,000.00. It is also a coincidence he was able to get his pension based on that $170,000 figure because it goes by your three highest years of salaries as a state employee. But hiring Denise Stouffer? The lead from the Delaware Department of Education’s Charter School Office? Are you kidding me?
As always in Delaware education, it’s not what you know, it is WHO you know. She and Chuck were buddy-buddy on the Charter School Accountability Committee ever since she came aboard in the lead position two years ago. Denise Stouffer was ALSO who I talked to at the DOE last summer when the anonymous Providence Creek teacher and staff crowd had me post their complaints and their attempt to join the union. Nothing came of that. Hell, Denise Stouffer even told me her office did a thorough investigation and found none of their claims to be true. Imagine that! And now she is their Head of School!
I’ve talked to Stouffer a bit over the past couple years. There is something off. Something… I don’t know… call it… a trust issue. I don’t always believe her. I know, as the head of the Charter School Office at the DOE it was her job to oversee charters under the DOE’s authority. She certainly wasn’t going to give me any more ammunition than I already had. But I heard of too many folks going to her about things and then bad things happened. Usually a termination at a charter school. God forbid you go to the state agency overseeing many charter schools and actually lodge a beef against them. But that was how it was.
I still smell a stink from PCA. Something has NEVER felt right about that place. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad Stouffer isn’t leading the Charter School Office anymore. I’m also glad Chuck Taylor is retiring. But this kind of thing doesn’t get PCA off my radar. Not at all. The fact that NO official charges ever came out against anyone at PCA with their own charter school money theft thing. In the prosecutions that did occur, it wasn’t the school pressing charges. That came from either the feds or Delaware’s Attorney General office. Their was a whole damn audit report with tons of findings showing there was theft at PCA. So how the hell did the statute of limitations run out on that? Like I said, something smells like three-month old fish over there in Clayton.
While there is nothing in Delaware state code against a DOE employee taking a job at any Delaware school, this one seems off. I probably wouldn’t care if this were any other school. But Stouffer was the person who was supposed to conduct a proper investigation into PCA when the “We’re Worried” crew went to her and NOTHING happened from that tells me something was hushed. And she had the unmitigated gall to act offended to me based on what I wrote about her role with things at PCA knowing she used her position at DOE to leverage herself to the top position at one of the charters she had to oversee really ticks me off. This is a conflict of interest but of course nothing will happen because We Are Delaware! Before the PCA parents start hammering me with the “she got the job because she was qualified” schtick, there were many qualified over the past three years to take that job. This oh-so-convenient hiring leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. But I really shouldn’t be surprised.
Ten days. That will make all the difference for the Wilmington charter school. If they don’t get 24 students to apply AND commit to the struggling charter school, they will have their charter revoked at the end of this school year.
It was just last month that Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security narrowly missed getting shut down by the Delaware State Board of Education. But the conditions mounted against them could kick in charter revocation at any time if they failed to comply. The very first condition was the school must have 200 students by May 1st.
Last night, at the State Board of Education meeting, Denise Stouffer from the Charter School Office updated the board on DAPSS’ probation. To date, they had 176 students enrolled for next year. They need another 24 in the next ten days or they are toast. That includes commitment letters signed by parents. They could still reach that number but it would be very tough. Their enrollment number has not gone up much since the State Board rendered their decision last month.
Ten days. For 176 students already enrolled for next year, this could be problematic for them come June 29th if the charter for DAPPS is revoked. These students and their parents or guardians will be forced to find a new school for the 2019-2020 school year. Do they start looking if the school doesn’t meet their numbers by May 1st or wait to see what happens over the next few months?
At the Delaware Department of Education building in Dover, the Charter School Accountability Committee recommended Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security stay open for another school year with very stringent conditions. At that point, Colonial’s Board of Education could very well decide to take over their charter. Queen Margie once again made it all about her. But the discussion that reached this point was very intense. Much more information here than you will find in the Delaware DOE press release.
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.
Last night at the Delaware State Board of Education meeting, five Delaware charter schools received unanimous approval from board members. Academia Antonia Alonso, Early College High School, First State Montessori Academy, and Sussex Academy were approved with no conditions. For Thomas Edison Charter School, that was a different story. And for another, the State Board did not get a complete record.
This is a definite. It IS going to happen. A Delaware charter school will be going under formal review, most likely in 2018. Why? A multitude of reasons. While I’m not ready to reveal which one at this point in time, you will know it when you see it. You may think you know which one, but you could be wrong.
There haven’t been any formal reviews since the 2015-2016 school year when both Delaware MET and Delaware STEM Academy went under the Delaware DOE knife. Neither came out alive when it was all said and done. Since then, the Charter School Office at the Delaware DOE has come under new leadership with Denise Stouffer. From what I understand, there are circumstances going on at this charter school that can no longer be ignored. Will this charter school come out alive? Smart money says nope unless something radical changes very soon.
In 2016, the Delaware State Board of Education approved a major modification request to lower their enrollment. This year, they are supposed to be at 475 students based on that approval. Charter schools have to be at 80% enrollment to be financially viable. That number would be 380 for Delaware Design-Lab High School this year. They are below 300 students according to sources. Will Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting recommend formal review for the struggling charter school?
The dangling carrot for Design-Lab is their $10 million prize from XQ. The school is currently interviewing positions for their three deans. But those funds can only be used for very specific purposes. It is not meant for salary increases for teachers. But according to an anonymous source, the Interim Head of School (Rebecca Collins) is promising teachers increases. How can the school afford this with their low enrollment? Many teachers are fearing for their jobs due to the school’s low enrollment. Since the Board of Directors ousted Dr. Joseph Mock a couple of weeks ago, a wave of parents have pulled their kids out. Their enrollment tally was due to the Delaware Department of Education on Friday because of the annual September 30th enrollment count.
Historically, the Delaware State Board of Education has put charters on formal review for low enrollment because below 80% charters are not financially viable. Many charters (including Design-Lab) faced this review in 2015. They all squeaked by with higher enrollment by the time the State Board voted that July.
For a charter like Design-Lab, they had their enrollment lowered after that and still can’t get anywhere close to their approved numbers. Many parents don’t seem to be wowed by the XQ award. Three different leaders have been in charge in the past nine months with another new one coming on. I did find out Rebecca Collins did step down from the board to take the interim leader role and plans to go back on the board once the new leader is in place. But Joseph Mock was definitely fired from his position.
At the Delaware DOE, charters are overseen by the Charter School Office. Since Denise Stouffer replaced Jennifer Nagourney in July, 2016, no charter schools have been placed on formal review. Will Delaware Design-Lab High School be the first?
The revolt at Providence Creek Academy is about to blow wide open. And at the epicenter of this is Head of School, Chuck Taylor.
Tomorrow night, Providence Creek Academy is holding their July Board of Directors meeting. I have no doubt one of the biggest items of discussion in their Executive Session will be how to handle the growing and mounting concerns of nearly half of their teachers and staff. These employees of the Clayton, DE charter school are not happy. Going by an anonymous group called “We’re Worried”, I’ve been in contact with this group for a month and a half. I went so far as to contact Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting about their concerns. I did so in the bounds of confidentiality and I did not name the school or the Head of School in the conversation. Dr. Bunting stressed that if there is a hostile work environment, the Delaware DOE needs to know immediately so they can take immediate action.
I heard this as a rumor a few weeks ago, but the State Board of Education agenda for their meeting on October 20th confirms it. Susan Perry-Manning, the Executive Director of the Office of Early Learning, is resigning from the Delaware Department of Education effective tomorrow, October 7th. She joined the Department in February of 2015, just as the Every Student Succeeds Act and its push for more early childhood education became a very big topic in Delaware and the rest of the country.
Prior to her stint at the Delaware DOE, Perry-Manning was the Executive Director for the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation. Early childhood education hasn’t been on my radar too much since I began this blog. K-12 education keeps me busy enough! But as I see this corporate push for what many are now calling a “cradle to grave” thing going on, I expect that to change. I’m all for kids learning as soon as they can, but I also worry about what pushing kids at too early of an age, before they are developmentally ready for certain things, will do to future generations of children. I joked once about a fetal Smarter Balanced Assessment. That was years ago. While we haven’t quite reached that point, I am skeptical of more and more corporations getting in on education. I don’t believe in “toddler rigor”. But I do admit I need to understand early childhood education more and see if I can separate the opportunists from those who truly want to help. There is a fine line at times…
Another noteworthy departure is Wayne Hartschuh. He is the Executive Director of the Delaware Center for Educational Technology (DCET). I find that one very interesting because of the personalized learning push in Delaware. He has been with the DOE for over twenty years, so he is definitely a lifer! It looks like the last of the bigger names at the Delaware DOE are leaving before Jack Markell leaves his post as Governor in three months. There is still one more who I wouldn’t shed any tears over if they left. “Elementary, my dear ______” There are a few others who look like they may stick around into the next Governor’s term: Susan Haberstroh, Karen Field-Rogers, David Blowman, and Donna Johnson. Time will tell on them! But the big question is who will be the next Delaware Secretary of Education! Or will Godowsky stick around for a while?
As well, we see the “official” announcement of Denise Stouffer taking over for Jennifer Nagourney, which I wrote about last week. Stouffer has to be having one hell of a week between Prestige Academy turning in their charter at the end of this school year and the bombshell charter school lawsuit against Christina and the Delaware DOE.
Denise Stouffer joined the Charter School Office at the Delaware Dept. of Education last April. but as of the past couple of weeks she became the Director of the Charter School Office. She rose through the ranks to replace Jennifer Nagourney, who left the Delaware DOE on July 1st to join the New York City Dept. of Education. But she had been working with the Delaware DOE for two years before that as a contractor with a title of “Data Governance Contractor”. In 2010, she created a company called BHS Educational Services based out of Pennsylvania. BHS specializes in helping individuals to create charter schools and professional development training. Stouffer also helped out the DOE during their contract with Wireless Generation as a consultant that trained people on professional development and data driven instructional practices. All this information is based on Stouffer’s LinkedIn account. While her new title does not appear on that account, it was referenced in the Charter School Office presentation to the Delaware State Board of Education at their retreat earlier this week.
I have seen Denise Stouffer at meetings the past few weeks, whether at the State Board of Education or Every Student Succeeds Act meetings. I was wondering who she was… now I know! I had a decent relationship with Jennifer Nagourney and I hope the same can be said for Denise Stouffer. I’m a pain in the ass at times. But as I’ve always told folks at the DOE and written on here more times than I can count, if I’m barking up the wrong tree, let me know! In any event, congratulations Denise! You have big shoes to fill!