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.

Breaking News: State Auditor’s Office Looking At More Than Family Foundations & Academy of Dover

I just talked to Delaware State Auditor Tom Wagner’s office to find out when the audits for Family Foundations Academy and Academy of Dover will be released.  FFA does not have an estimated date, but they expect Academy of Dover to come out in May.  I asked if there are any other charter schools being investigated by their office.  I was told “we have a report coming out on other charter schools.”  I asked if they were of the same magnitude as Family Foundations and Academy of Dover.   The response was that those two were reported to their office and both have been talked about in the public so they have made the fact known they are being investigated.  But the office gave me no other information about which other charter schools are being looked at.  But it is more than one, and whether this is an overall report or locked into specific charters was not provided.

When is the Delaware DOE going to do their job and not just authorize charter schools, but actually take part in State law which indicates they have to have a DOE representative on each charter school’s Citizen Budget Oversight Committee?  This is beyond the point of absurdity.  Enough DOE!  You are making our state look like a bunch of idiots!  Do your job and stop worrying about priority schools, standardized tests, teacher accountability and standards-based IEPs.  Because this Department needs to be held accountable most of all!  House Bill 53 needs to pass as soon as possible so these charters can stop taking taxpayer money and doing what they want with it!  And if their own independent auditors can’t seem to catch these cases of taxpayer theft, maybe their own audits need to go deeper every year.

I’m all for choice.  I know everyone thinks I hate charters, but I don’t.  I hate the lack of transparency, the lack of fair practices, how they keep transportation funds after they have spent their budgeted amount, enrollment preferences that slight any student under any circumstances, the extreme amount of lobbying that happens for their benefit, the special education issues in many of them, the unelected boards, and the corporate education reform designed to create more charters while leaving traditional school districts out in the cold.  There are good charters in this state, but the stink of far too many give them a bad name.

And please, Delaware General Assembly, let’s get House Bill 61 through the House Education Committee and out for a vote.  This is what I will call the Kilroy bill: that all school boards have to record and post to their website all board meetings.  Three years is enough!  The people deserve to hear what these boards are saying!