Yesterday, the Delaware State Board of Education voted in the majority to put Odyssey Charter School under formal review for six violations of Delaware state code. Continue reading Odyssey Goes Under Formal Review For Financial & Governance Reasons
On Friday night, I put up a post about the Newark Charter School Coalition and how they met with an Assistant at a charter South of the Canal resulting in the firing of said employee. As I wrote the other night, the principal was not privy to this conversation and was none too pleased when she found out about it. Oh wait, I didn’t say she, did I? So which charter was it? There aren’t too many in Kent and Sussex. Continue reading So Which School Did Newark Charter Want To Join Their “Coalition”?
As I trolled through charter school minutes throughout the day, in-between working on another project, and reading with my son, I got to the last one, Thomas Edison Charter School. Lo and behold, Thomas Edison is under investigation by the Delaware State Auditor. While it doesn’t give specifics and why they are being investigated, their July 2015 board minutes give no illusion about this matter. I first reported this in the Spring, and some folks said I am reading too much into it. Thank you, I know the difference between an investigative audit and a regular audit.
State Audit Update
Auditors are coming to the school during the week of 07/27/15 to begin the audit. The auditors are requesting the Board meeting be moved back one week to allow them to meet State deadlines and to report findings to the Board. The Board did not have an objection to the request.
Back in May, the State Auditor’s office revealed during a House Education Committee meeting on House Bill 186 that seven Delaware charters were under investigation, and they were not light matters. We already knew about Family Foundations Academy and Academy of Dover. I soon found out, once again based on board minutes, that Providence Creek Academy was another. And then in June, I discovered two possible other schools: Thomas Edison and Odyssey Charter School. The State Auditor’s office isn’t able to verify this information. While I still haven’t been able to confirm Odyssey, Thomas Edison is definitely number four. The first three were for financial abuse, involving procurement (purchase) cards and actually opening accounts under the school’s name for personal use. What has Thomas Edison done to incur this inspection? I’m sure we will find out soon enough.
Once again, what is the DOE doing about this? I have yet to hear of any action being taken on Providence Creek Academy and Thomas Edison, even though it is now public knowledge. Both Academy of Dover and FFA were put on formal review in part due to these kinds of things. And who are the other three charters? The wheels on the bus go round and round…
To read the actual board minutes from Thomas Edison’s July meeting, look below:
Last night, the Christina School District Board of Education voted 4-3 to hire former Red Clay Superintendent Robert Andrzejewski become the Interim Superintendent. Last month, Superintendent Freeman Williams left on a leave of absence. Apparently, allegations are already making the rounds on social media that this was just one board member’s pick. No interview was held by anyone in the district and a motion was made to vote on Andrzejewski. Another board member introduced an amendment to this and was pushed to the side.
The Delaware Department of Education is definitely being very transparent when it comes to Academy of Dover. So much so that they are actually posting charge statements from various vendors. I would imagine at this point the Charter School Office is under a lot of scrutiny in regards to their oversight of charter schools. I do believe they serve a purpose, but I just wish they would catch this stuff sooner.
On April 30, Academy of Dover’s board of directors submitted a set of documents to the Department of Education. These documents included copies of statements for credit cards and accounts held by the school since the 2011-12 school year, including accounts with Home Depot, Lowes, Staples, and Sam’s Club. The Charter School Office has identified a set of statements documenting purchases that may have been made by the former school leader for personal use. Those statements have been added to the record.
•Selection of Documents Submitted
You can actually view the statements on this DOE website. Meanwhile, their board is having an emergency board meeting tonight. And tomorrow is the big day with the Charter School Accountability Committee meeting. I’m sure there will be fireworks at that one! In the meantime, I pray parents are able to find solace with this school. Because at the end of the day, it should be about the students at the school, not the adults who misbehave.
The Delaware Charter School Accountability Committee made it’s final recommendations in regards to Family Foundations Academy. Their decision: the charter school stays open with a probationary status for one year. I think that is more than fair given that the EastSide takeover is an untried experiment in Delaware.
This is a school that had it’s fair share of issues prior to the takeover. Ex Heads of School Sean Moore and Dr. Tennell Brewington collectively embezzled over $100,000 from the school and lest we forget, there were many cultural and academic events going on. The Delaware Department of Education and State Board of Education received many complaints about FFA, including special education issues, discipline problems, and staff complaints.
For it’s part, there are several board members at FFA who also serve on EastSide’s board, and many staff members serving dual roles, including the financial director and head of school. Running essentially three schools could be stretching anyone to the max, but EastSide does appear to walk on water.
Given the circumstances with an untested arrangement, what went down at FFA, and the fact that this school was very close to getting shut down, you would think Dr. Lamont Browne and Charles McDowell would be grateful for the reprieve. But no, they have to be arrogant about the whole thing. The fact they would have an issue with the CSAC requesting a different auditor at the end of this year is testament to this fact. The school hasn’t (as of this letter) even had a first meeting with their Citizen’s Budget Oversight Committee, and there is little proof FFA even had one prior to last fall. And given what I’m hearing is going on in charterville with money matters, they should count themselves lucky.
The letter also reported Moore and Brewington reached a settlement agreement. Who was this settlement with? Cause the last I heard the duo were heading to the Attorney General’s office! That would be a criminal matter. Browne and McDowell need to check their egos at the door when they go to the State Board of Education meeting this coming Thursday, March 19th. Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and the State Board of Education will render their final decision on the long, bizarre FFA saga.
Today at the Delaware State Board of Education meeting, it was decided the school would be handed over to Eastside Charter School. The 6-1 vote by the Delaware State Board of Education renews the embattled school’s charter but does place them on formal review.
The room was packed with new board members and supporters of the school. While the State Board did discuss many of the financial problems with the school, they did agree to give this new board a chance. Board member Whittaker did not vote for the charter’s renewal.
The Formal Review is based on the charter’s Organizational and Financial parts of their framework. State Auditor Tom Wagner’s office has not released their official audit at this point which could conceivably shed more light on the financial mismanagement at the Wilmington charter school while under the leadership of ex-heads of school Sean Moore and Dr. Tennell Brewington.
Updated: A lot more information behind the collaboration between the Delaware Charter Schools Network, Family Foundations Academy and Eastside Charter School can be seen here by the awesome WHYY/Newsworks education reporter Avi Wolfman-Arent: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/item/77394-delaware-spares-troubled-charter-school?linktype=hp_topstory
I’m guessing the State Board of Education gave the charter a sixty day formal review for a couple reasons. 1) To see what may come out of Delaware State Auditor Tom Wagner’s office, and 2) To see if the Eastside crew can actually manage to do double the work for two schools. None of the standardized test cheating I have written about, which has been reported to me by more than one source, was even touched upon by the State Board of Education. Nor was the special education issues brought up by the prior board. I guess since Markell’s Charter Love Child, Eastside Charter, swooped in and saved the day all is forgiven. Don’t get me wrong, I would hate to see any child sent to a new school if they don’t have to. But the charter system in Delaware has so much rot and corruption at so many of it’s schools, or just plain incompetence. In FFA’s board minutes for 12/31/14, one of the board members actually asked about getting a Staples card to help with the technology to pay all the outstanding invoices. It’s called a clue buddy… I’m sure this Eastside board is much more experienced with these types of things, but I remain unconvinced that some of the administration will be able to carry the weight should Eastside ever exit this partnership.
Anyone even remotely associated with Family Foundations Academy needs to bear all about this school, and now would be the time to do it. If you know of any problems there such as financial mismanagement, bullying issues, abuse, harassment, special education issues, test manipulation, anything, please be honest and let the Delaware Department of Education Charter School Office know what’s really going on there. Children are the victims of the outright fraud and manipulation perpetrated by the Heads of School there. In the end, it doesn’t really matter who spent more on school credit cards for personal use. It’s not right, and anything else that has gone on there needs to be brought to the surface. This message is also for teachers, former teachers, staff members and any board member that wants to come clean.
Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and the Delaware State Board of Education will make a decision on the charter renewal of Family Foundations Academy at the January 15th State Board of Education meeting. They are also extending public comment until the end of the day on January 12th.
As per the charter school office website:
On December 18, pursuant to the approval of the Family Foundations Academy Board of Directors to waive the 60-day time period for a decision on its renewal application, the Secretary of Education deferred the decision to allow for necessary due diligence on potentially serious allegations of financial mismanagement. The Secretary of Education will announce his decision at the January 15, 2015 State Board of Education meeting, to be held at 1:00 p.m. in the Townsend Building in Dover.
Under the original renewal process timeline, the deadline for public comment was Friday, December 12 and the record closed prior to the December 18 State Board of Education meeting. Since the timeline for FFA’s renewal has been extended, the DOE will also extend the timeline in which public comments may be submitted and materials may be added to the record. The new deadline for all public comment and new materials will be Monday, January 12, at 11:59 p.m.