Bloodbath At DAPSS As Two-Thirds Of Their Staff And Herb Sheldon Were Fired Today

Delaware Academy of Safety and Security will look very different next year.  After surviving their formal review and getting their enrollment up to an acceptable level, the culling began today when 2/3rds of their staff AND Principal Herbert Sheldon got their walking papers.  They will still be there until the end of the school year, but many aren’t happy.

The Dean of Students and Discipline, Dakevis Matthews…gone

Director of Public Safety, David Wainwright…gone

Operations Specialist, Lisa Flynn…gone

Office Manager, Tara Williams…gone

Behavior Interventionist (listed on their website as a Behavior Interventionalist), Marcus Bazemore…gone

The odd part is that Sheldon did the firings.  But when he wouldn’t accept a lesser position, he was on the chopping block as well.  We ALL know where these firings are coming from.  That would be Board President Margie Lopez-Waite.  A few months ago, she dropped their Academic Director, Erica Thomas, like a bag of hot potatoes after the school got reamed in their formal review meeting at the DOE.  But if Margie is still involved in a year or so I would be shocked.  And this is why charter schools need to be unionized.  So this kind of bloodbath doesn’t happen.  Many of the staff that were fired were directly responsible for getting their enrollment to where it needed to be.  Their reward?  This.  So if you EVER want to be a teacher at ANY charter school Margie Lopez Waite is involved in, you might want to put body armor on your back so the knife doesn’t penetrate too deep.

And to think I actually congratulated Margie on DAPSS surviving their formal review… it’s going to take a lot of mouthwash for me to erase those words!  Had I known THIS was what she planned, those words would have never come out of my mouth.  You see, these are people’s lives here.  Their jobs, their income, their security.  What happened to all that extra training and support Colonial was going to give these teachers?  Where are the new teachers going to come from? TFA? Relay?  We all know Colonial has been boasting about their relationship with Relay.  Not cool, not cool at all.  For Margie… a school (even a charter school) is not the same as the banking world.  DAPSS is not MBNA.  You can’t run a school like a bank.

CSAC Recommends DAPSS Stay Open For One Year With Conditions While Queen Margie Exerts Control

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. Continue reading

DAPSS Faces CSAC In Final Meeting Today As Queen Margie Reigns Supreme & King Herb Is Making Big Money

I’ve seen some arrogant stuff from charter schools in my day but this one takes the cake!  Separating herself from the rest of the Board of Directors, Margie Lopez-Waite must be thinking her name adds extra oomph to the struggling Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security.  Yes, being a Chairperson or President of any school board does give you a certain amount of power and responsibilities, but to distance yourself from the other equal board members is not a good idea.  It makes the rest of the Board look weak in comparison.  I’ve seen many charters where the head of the Board calls the shots.  The rest of the Board winds up becoming a rubber stamp.

For Queen Margie, she has gained absolute control at the school.  Obviously they need something since they are on formal review but I would prefer like-minded people working together as opposed to this self-created hierarchy.

Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security came out with their response to the initial Charter School Accountability Committee meeting.  We learned Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting turned down the school’s request to submit a major modification to reduce their numbers.  That makes sense since you can’t do that when you are on formal review.  The school also made an attempt to compare their test scores to area high schools and show they really aren’t that bad when you compare them like this.

Since their modification won’t happen, that means they can’t switch their location for this school year or even next school year if they remain open by that time.  That means they have to renew their lease with Fatima, the church that holds the lease on their building.  Given that the school is at least $184,000 in the hole, this spells trouble.  My sense is they are deeper in the hole than suggested but they found a way to hide it.  Even though THIS WAS DISCUSSED AT THEIR FIRST MEETING WITH CSAC.

We also learned their teaching staff has some glaring holes in it.  Out of their eight core teachers, three are on emergency certificates, two are vacant positions, and one has an initial license.  What does that mean?  This school’s teaching population is not up to snuff.  75% of them are not fully certified teachers.

Does Herb Sheldon make $185,000 as Principal of this school?  According to their proposed budget for the 2018-2019 school year, that’s what it looks like.  I hardly think a school of 200 students needs a Principal making THAT much money.  Especially since he has NO academic background aside from human resources at another charter school.

What disturbed me the most about this school was their attrition rate with special education students.  If you look at the below graph, you can see the number of students with disabilities dropping considerably each year as they go on to their next grade.  What happens to these students?  Are they counseled out?  Expelled?  Or do parents just say enough is enough and pull them out?  Where are these students going when they leave DAPSS?  To other charters or back to their regular feeder pattern?  For their Grade 9 that started last year, they were at 32.9% special education.  This year, those students in 10th grade are at 0% special education.  What happened to those 25 students on an IEP?  Same with the 9th graders that started in 2014-2015.  In two years, they went from 27 IEPs to 16 to none.  For a school that boasts about being able to handle high-needs students, I’m not seeing it!  To begin training on special education law at a state and federal level before the 2018-2019 school year does NOT show a commitment to these students.  That training should be going on NOW!

I love how the school talks about all the programs brought about by their former Curriculum Director, Erica Thomas, who is no longer with the school.  Way to take someone else’s work and make it your own!

To read the pitiful response from the school, please see below.  To read the appendices mentioned in the report, please go here.

 

DAPSS Qualified Curriculum Director Rips School Leadership In Public Hearing

I heard the Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security Public Hearing the other night was off the hook, but I had no idea!  Today, the Delaware Department of Education Charter School Office released the transcript of the hearing.  Their Curriculum Director, Erica Thomas, went after school leadership over her many attempts to get a better curriculum going in the school but felt she was ultimately stymied in her efforts.

One criticism I received recently was that I am under-qualified to be the Director of Curriculum and Instruction — coming from someone who does not have a degree — a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and experience in various aspects above and beyond that within the educational community — I find this disrespectful because my efforts have been stymied by the lack of educational leadership at the Academy which before I arrived was filled with nepotism and cronyism.

Maybe if the Delaware DOE was paying attention they would have been able to catch that nepotism and cronyism.  It wasn’t exactly a state secret on how bad this school was doing for many years, but the Delaware DOE turned a blind eye until they couldn’t.  But I digress…

I came to this school and stepped up to the challenge to improve things for students. I was told I was going to be given autonomy to create changes. However, through Academy leadership, education best practices were secondary to maintaining personal relationships. Moreover, I was undermined and a culture of distrust and suspicion was created.

As mentioned in her testimony, Thomas came to the school in August of 2016.  This was way after the school had low enrollment and proficiency issues.  Any school turnaround takes time and doesn’t happen overnight.

I came in with a strategic plan implementing LF, Read 180, IXL, many other research-based practices that we’ve put in place, and we will give you in the CSAC rebuttal. I know the Academy is capable of doing a whole lot better than what the achievement scores show, but I was stymied in my implementation of a teaching/learning model through a series of professional development and professional learning communities.

It sounds to me like she was making a valiant effort to improve things.  I’m surprised the school didn’t already have some of these key programs in the school already!

I came to the Academy to raise expectations. I came to the Academy with all of the greatest intentions. I still believe in the school and its mission. The students and staff deserve a whole lot better, but that starts at the very top. It has been made very clear to me that I am not the top. I have taken directives. I have finished tasks and I did as a good soldier would. That’s it.

Wow!  Is that coming from new Board President Margie Lopez-Waite or the vastly under-qualified Head of School Herbert Sheldon?  Or both?  Lopez-Waite comes from the MBNA/Bank of America world.  While she may have performed miracles at Las Americas ASPIRA Academy (or did she just cheerlead the school while others did all the work?), it sounds like she came into DAPSS wanting to run the show.  She may be President of the Board but that does not give her the unilateral ability to do as she pleases.    It sounds like the school tried to make Thomas the sacrificial lamb in this process.  From everything I’ve seen and heard, it sounds like the biggest problem at the school is Sheldon himself!

I find it ironic that someone with an advanced degree in education with extensive knowledge of educational best practices is treated like this but their Head of School basically has a bookkeeping background at East Side Charter School.  It doesn’t seem right.  If charters are to ultimately survive, they need people with deep education backgrounds.  I’m not sure what happened as a result of Thomas’ comments, but she no longer appears on the school website.

Meanwhile, I did receive my FOIA request back from Sheldon.  All he sent was what already appears on the school’s website.  So their huge deficit will have to be discovered another way.

The rest of the Public Hearing is below.  Aside from Thomas’ controversial testimony (which also praised the school), the many public comments were in favor of the school and while many recognized the struggles of the school, it was also urged the State Board of Education keep them open.  Towards the end, the Colonial bomb is dropped by a teacher.  And a big thank you to the excellent transcriptionist at Wilcox & Fetzer who always do a great job with these Public Hearings!

Former DAPSS Board President Rips School & Kendall Massett To Shreds While Margie Lopez-Waite Pleads To Keep School Open

In her resignation letter, former Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security Board of Directors President Sherese Brewington-Carr expressed a desire for the charter school to close.   As well, she opened a can of extreme whoop-ass on Delaware Charter School Network Executive Director Kendall Massett.  Five days later, the school and board went through their first meeting with the Charter School Accountability Committee and went through a very intense meeting.  Las Americas Aspiras Academy Head of School Margie Lopez-Waite lambasted the school in the meeting while begging CSAC to keep the school open another year. Continue reading