Instead of students being somber about their charter revocation January 22nd, they decided to do something else yesterday. This week, the Delaware Met received a new leader in the form of Denise Barnes, a former middle school assistant principal from Appoquinimink. Yesterday, the students took full advantage of the recent decision by the State Board of Education to shut down the school by misbehaving and “jumping”, a slang term for causing fights. The school had no clue how to handle the unruly students, so they shut down at noon. This was not a planned and scheduled day. They just said “School’s over, time to go home.”
Why would the charter, with a model that focuses on personal relationships called “Big Picture Learning”, allow this behavior to continue. And with all the problems, why would they hire a person from Appo to lead the school? Appo and Delaware Met are two completely different worlds. I’ve heard that even though the students had issues with former school Leader Tricia Hunter Crafton, she at least had their respect. She knew how to connect with the students. But as the school has gone through a few “leaders”, the students are running the school.
Delaware Met closes for Christmas break on December 22nd. When they come back in January, they will have a few weeks before they close for good. Who is monitoring what goes on there between now and then? Is anyone? It is painfully obvious that whoever the authority figures are now do not know what they are doing. Are these students even learning anything these days? And what about all their internships? Is that even happening (which was the whole purpose of the school)? The school bragged about their hiring of A.J. English and his mentoring team with English Mentoring. What is going on with that? What is their much vaunted “school climate team” even doing there? The school has bragged about how things have turned around, but just this week alone there was an emergency room visit for a student who got stitches after a chair was thrown at his head, and then the mini-riot yesterday that forced the school to send everyone home without parental notification. Apparently, the DOE was unaware of the stitches incident until well into the State Board of Education meeting the next day. As if not telling the DOE about the stitches thing would have stopped the State Board from shutting them down!
As the Delaware Auditor of Account’s office investigates the school’s finances, many are wondering about what they will find. I would assume they are looking at how funds were allocated, especially special education dollars. Their budget submissions to the DOE during their formal review showed a lot of funds moving around. And if there was any misappropriation of federal dollars, that’s big time! I would also guess they are looking at Innovative Schools role in this unprecedented disaster. How was money spent during the two-year planning period? Did Innovative take advantage of the apparent inexperience of their board of directors? And will we ever find out the mystery of the bleeding meat served at lunch to students?
Don’t get me wrong, I think the State Board of Education made the right decision in shutting them down. But with that decision also comes the responsibility of making sure things run right until that closure. By shutting them down, the State Board is saying they don’t trust the school to make the right decisions for their students. So if they didn’t trust them before their decision, why would they trust them now to do the right thing? With everything going on there, someone needs to look out for these kids.