After waiting an extra ten days to put up the audio of their June board meeting, the future of the Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security is once again in doubt. Immediately into their board meeting, Margie Lopez-Waite resigned as President of their board and was than voted into the new Head of School position. Continue reading
A few days ago I put an article up about petty cash abuse in our districts and charter schools. No state agency has yet to give an official response even though they are all well aware of the article at this point. I’m fairly sure if there were an investigation that came out of this the last person they would tell is me.
The interesting snafu in all this is Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security. They are already on probation from their formal review. While not using a petty cash for fun time at the school is not a condition of their probation, the fact that money was used for fun time and who knows what else is a concern. I’ve heard lots of tales about how that money was used. An auditor would have a field day with this.
Like I said, I’m not too concerned with the folks who did it once or twice. Those can be explained. In fact, one school district made it a point to contact me. It is the chronic offenders I take issue with. Most especially the two that got a letter from Tom Wagner less than two years ago saying “Don’t do it”. No one should be doing it to begin with but when you get a letter like that and essentially flip the bird and do the same thing all over again, I have ZERO respect for you. Sounds like Sam Paoli has more on his plate than just CSW teachers joining the union!
I was really hoping Margie Lopez Waite and the board at DAPSS would act on this immediately. But no, when I go to the DAPSS website I see the SAME person on there who was behind the school’s petty cash splurging. On the taxpayer’s dime. I don’t mind paying taxes so kids can get an education. But I take a very serious affront to school leaders who want to break the rules and treat state money like it is their own piggy bank to play with. Yes, I’m talking about you Herb Sheldon. Margie acted lightning fast last Winter in getting someone off the school website. But I guess playing with school funding is an okay. Gotcha! I understand now!
Will anyone in the state actually do more on this issue than send more letters saying “Don’t do this”? When does REAL accountability start happening?
Will a Wilmington charter school become embroiled in the ongoing saga of Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security and Las Americas ASPIRA Academy? Many are saying yes. Continue reading
Talk about the last minute! If the Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security did not have a student enrollment of 200 students by tomorrow, their charter would have been revoked. They hit that number so they have met their first condition of their probation. Under 200 students would have meant the school would not have been financially viable as a non-profit public school. This is “unofficial” but I am hearing this from excellent sources so I don’t doubt the viability of this claim at all.
I don’t ever wish to see any school closed unless there is some unbelievable egregious stuff going on there (case in point: Delaware Met). I sincerely hope the school can meet the rest of their probation conditions over the coming year or so. The whole point of any school is the success of the students. I do wonder what schools won’t have these students next year. Are they coming from districts or other charters or a combination of the two? That is school choice for you and at the end of the day it is a parent’s decision!
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?
The State Board of Education, with a 5-0 vote and 1 abstention, declared Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security will not close. The State Board’s vote gives DAPSS another year to prove themselves. But there are new conditions.
The Charter School Accountability Committee recommended the school stay open for another year as long as they have a student enrollment of 200 students by May 1st, along with other conditions including utilizing their partnership with the Colonial School District. Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting agreed with CSAC’s recommendation with many revisions. She agreed with everything the CSAC recommended but wanted to know by June 29th if Colonial or Las Americas ASPIRAS would help to fill vacant staff positions and a transition plan should the school choose to make Colonial it’s . This must be in agreement with Colonial. If the board doesn’t meet all their conditions by June 29th, their charter will automatically be revoked. Bunting wants more transparency with the whole process. She also wants all teachers to be certified and the charter handed back to the Delaware DOE by mid-2019 so they can begin the transition to Colonial. Bunting had a total of eight conditions.
State Board President Dennis Loftus requested monthly reports to the State Board. His biggest concern was, if the school should close, that students would have enough time to transition to different schools by the new school year. State Board member Wali Rushdan said he was satisfied with Bunting’s recommendation and this allayed many of his concerns about the staff being certified and highly qualified. He expressed the need for a strategic plan, one of Bunting’s recommendations. Executive Director Donna Johnson asked about the recommendation concerning Colonial and ASPIRA helping out with staffing vacancies. Charter School Office Director Denise Stouffer clarified they would receive support by those highly qualified instructors from Colonial or ASPIRA. Loftus wanted to make it clear that DAPSS would either transition to Colonial for charter authorization or they would cease to exist. What happens if Colonial changes their mind?
I predicted this would be the outcome but I was happy to see Secretary Bunting add additional recommendations.
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
For a few months there, I had a great source at the Delaware Department of Education. When Delaware MET went down at the end of 2015, there was a lot I didn’t publish about what was going on there. You will find out why shortly. I’m glad I trusted my gut and didn’t send Wilmington into chaos mode. The below emails, between Dave Morgan and myself, not only shed a lot of light on Delaware MET, but also the Delaware DOE itself. Different names are thrown around in these emails. Going back and reading these is always fun! The last email between Dave Morgan and myself is particularly enlightening given that DAPSS is finally under formal review. The incompetence at the DOE is plain to see in these emails. I wish I could have met Dave in person. I probably did but didn’t know about their secret alias with me. I’ve had a few suspicions over the years, but have been unable to prove it. Some parts of these emails I redacted for a few reasons. That’s my business! Continue reading
While all eyes were on the Christina/Carney MOU, something big happened at Colonial School District’s Board of Education meeting. Their Board discussed supporting the struggling charter school, Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security, and eventually attempting to become their authorizer in the coming year. Meanwhile, DAPSS is still under formal review with the Delaware Department of Education. Continue reading
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
Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security made some substantial moves at an emergency board meeting Friday night. Including having an existing charter school leader become the President of their board! As well, the distressed charter school put a for lease sign up at their current property. Apparently they have an eye on another charter school’s vacant property.
Margie Lopez-Waite, the current head of school for Las Americas Aspiras Academy in New Castle, DE took over as Board President at their emergency board meeting Friday night. I can’t recall a time seeing an active charter school leader from one school become a board member on another. But this type of situation is not unprecedented. For a brief time, Colonial Superintendent Dusty Blakey serves on Aspiras’ Board of Directors.
On Tuesday, DAPSS will have their first formal review meeting with the Charter School Accountability Committee at the Delaware Dept. of Education in Dover. A growing discontent with the former President, Sherese Brewington-Carr, led to the changes. As well, a former board member named Dennis O’Brian went from Emeritus (on the board in honor but not active) to active. Some other new board members were added as well. Many folks have asked me if Sherese is related to Tennell Brewington from Family Foundations Academy and I have not been able to confirm any kinship. Some have speculated they are but Sherese has categorically denied this ever since Tennell’s financial fiasco a few years ago.
Meanwhile, the school put a for lease sign up at their school. They want to move into the old Family Foundations Academy property in New Castle. This is now an administration building for East Side Charter School and Charter School of New Castle (formerly Family Foundations). The first public hearing for DAPSS’ formal review will take place at this building on February 13th.
The Board of Directors at DAPSS has not put up any of their meeting minutes since their November meeting even though they have had three meetings since. They are also out of compliance with putting up their audio recordings of their board meetings as none have appeared since the November meeting as well.
Sources tell me Charlie Copeland has not been active with the school for a very long time and he actually wanted the school closed due to the dwindling enrollment two years ago.
The last time a charter school went through these kind of board member changes was Family Foundations Academy during their own formal review. However, even though FFA was going through a financial-fraudpalooza, they had the student count to justify staying open. DAPSS does not. This should be interesting!
Charter schools in Delaware- they are like a soap opera!
Last night, the Delaware State Board of Education unanimously put Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security on formal review for academic and financial reasons. The 6-0 vote puts the New Castle charter school through a two-month review period where they have to meet with the Charter School Accountability Committee and go through public hearings. The placement of a charter school to formal review status does not mean they are being shut down. Putting a school under formal review is the process. Any decision to leave a school open or shut it down takes place after a formal review and the findings that come out of that.
I knew their enrollment was low but that isn’t the only reason they went under the formal review knife. Academics played a big part. This is always tough for me to support because I loathe the use of standardized testing in punishing any school. With DAPSS, they went from Smarter Balanced to the SAT in a two-year period. In 2015, the SAT was remade to include Common Core.
Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting will make her recommendation to the State Board of Education at their March 15th meeting and then the State Board votes on that recommendation. The letter from Secretary Bunting notifying the school of their formal review status, the timeline, and their performance matrices for each category are included below.
Either the Charter School Office was ready for the State Board to vote for the formal review or they are able to predict the future, because the below PDF was created at 1pm yesterday, four hours before the State Board of Education began their meeting! I would have to say the school’s founder, Charlie Copeland, is not happy about this!
Delaware Design-Lab High School submitted a major modification application to the Delaware Department of Education Charter School Office to lower their enrollment again! This time they want to lower their enrollment by 26%.
I admire their tenacity, but sometimes you just have to realize there are too many charter schools in Northern New Castle County! I’m not saying they should give up but how long is this going to go on for? By failing to capitalize on their million dollar prize from XQ, they allowed their enrollment to drop to unsustainable levels. They just got a major modification approved two years ago to lower their enrollment and now they want to do it again.
They were supposed to be at 475 students this year. That was lowered from 600 students in 2016. Instead, they had 298. There is a reason no new charter applications have come in for New Castle County in three years. They couldn’t even get to their magic number of 380 students to be at 80% enrollment based on their September 30th count. They should be on formal review. They were before they even opened for low enrollment but they managed to squeak by. The only reason they aren’t is because of their XQ Super School prize. I’m sure they are planning to spend those funds wisely but if their aren’t enough students there, what’s the point? Apparently ten million bucks can get you a great many things except for actual students.
The rumor mill in Philadelphia is hearing Design-Lab wants to expand to the City of Brotherly Love. I wouldn’t call their original in The First State a resounding success if they can’t get the students.
In their application, the school has projected enrollment for the next four years. Their numbers don’t make much sense. As an example, they are looking to raise this year’s ninth graders (69) to 75 during their sophomore year. But then that jumps to 85 their junior year (because so many students transfer out junior year- insert sarcasm here). But then during their senior year, it dips back down to 75. For freshmen next year, they are projecting 100 students for that year. But that will drop down to 95 the next year. But inexplicably, the next year’s freshmen are projected at 100 but their sophomore year they will drop down to 90. I guess you have to make the numbers fit somehow. This is a far cry from their original charter application which was approved with 600 students by year four.
Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security is in a very tight spot. Very low enrollment is causing Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting to request a formal review of the charter school. The State Board of Education will consider the recommendation at their meeting on Thursday, January 18th.
A formal review in January. The timing on this is very interesting. If a charter school doesn’t have 80% of their enrollment by the Spring, they can go on formal review for that. They should have gone on formal review for low enrollment for a long time. But when they failed to hit those enrollment numbers in their September 30th count, that can no longer be ignored.
For Delaware charter schools, this school does have a very unique purpose, to promote public safety and security (thus the name). It is such an exact niche for students. Perhaps it was a bit too specific. Enrollment has steadily been going down for years. It would take a miracle for them to get their enrollment up to at least 80% in the middle of a school year. Low enrollment causes charters to lose a lot of money to the point where they are no longer financially viable.
This will be the first formal review in two years. The last was Delaware STEM Academy who never opened due to low enrollment numbers.
What? Who in the world is Herbert Sheldon? Who is the Board? While you may not know this name right now unless you are very involved in Delaware education, you soon will. Why? Continue reading
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.
Put your guessing caps on.
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?
Two Delaware charter schools are in violation of Delaware state law. The Delaware Department of Education is not putting them under formal review as they did two years ago when a few charter schools did not have 80% of their student enrollment for the next school year by April 1st of that calendar year. Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security and Delaware Design-Lab High School are under the 80% enrollment. Why no formal review? The Delaware State Code, under Title 14, is very clear about this type of situation:
(c)(1) On or before April 1 of each school year, a charter school shall have enrolled, at a minimum, 80% of its total authorized number of students, and the administrator of each charter school shall, pursuant to the requirements below, provide a written certification of that enrollment to the Department of Education and to the superintendent of each public school district in which 1 or more of the charter school’s students reside.
So what gives? The answer can be found in the State Board of Education agenda for their meeting today. The Charter School Office gives a monthly presentation to the State Board on all matters surrounding charter schools.
The law is the law. If they did the same to other charter schools, why are these two not going under the same scrutiny with their enrollment numbers? Is that fair to the charters that had to go through the formal review process two years ago? DAPSS numbers have been down for years. Had they not submitted a modification last year to decrease their enrollment numbers (which passed), they would have gone under formal review last year. Delaware Design-Lab was one of the schools under formal review two years ago for low enrollment numbers. Fair is fair, no matter what. While these numbers are not a train-wreck, they are in violation of what our legislators passed and was written into the state code.
The Delaware State Board of Education renewed the charter for Academy of Dover. This will give the school a period of five years, as every established Delaware charter gets, until their next renewal. But there were some concerns from the State Board of Education.
The topic of Academy of Dover’s enrollment was the talking point for the State Board in discussing their charter renewal. Their numbers, as I reported a couple of months ago, have been declining. If those numbers don’t start increasing, they could face the unfortunate prospect of dipping below the state required 80% of their enrollment. By state law, all charters must be at 80% of their approved enrollment by April 1st for the next school year. If a Delaware charter does not meet their numbers, they are placed under formal review with the Delaware State Board of Education. That process is somewhat similar to the charter renewal process but focuses more on the subject that places them under that review. But it is still a daunting task.
For now, I’m sure Academy of Dover is celebrating their renewal but with a bit of apprehension. As Capital expands their programming, which is the main feeder pattern for Academy of Dover, the charter school will have to step up their game to compete with Capital and Campus Community School, their main charter school competition in Dover. Time will tell!
The Delaware Charter School Accountability Committee had their final meeting with the Delaware STEM Academy on June 2nd. The report came out tonight. Prognosis: Don’t open the charter school! The main reason for their formal review was very low enrollment numbers. How low? They had 105 students enrolled when they went on formal review a month and a half ago. In the 45 days since… a whopping 124 according to the below report. Their charter calls for 250 students. They had to meet 80% of that. They are a bit under 50%.
I think the time has come to say we are getting “chartered out” in Delaware. This isn’t to say they aren’t popular and are growing. But new charters? Not so much. Out of the more recent charter school openings, I would have to say Great Oaks and First State Military School are doing well. Delaware Design-Lab is going through some growing pains. Delaware Met got the heave-ho before they could start a third marking period. Mapleton Charter School at Whitehall was going to move to Dover, but then backed out of that so they would need to reapply if they ever figure out what they are doing. And now Delaware STEM Academy. On top of Pencader, Moyer, and Reach Academy for Girls closing. And Delaware College Prep will close it’s doors at the end of this month. While this isn’t related at all, I did notice the State Board has not approved any new charters in Delaware since I started blogging just about two years ago…
The State Board of Education bit off more than they could chew when they approved all the new charter schools in 2013 and 2014. We are seeing what happens when there are too many charter schools, especially in upper New Castle County. As local districts beef up their programs, there are only so many students that can be choiced out of a school district. And after Delaware Met, parents up there have to a be a bit cautious. I am glad to see the Charter School Accountability Committee asking the right questions. These are things we need to see from the State Board of Education when they vote on new charters.
The final report from the Charter School Accountability Committee is below. Delaware STEM Academy will have their last public hearing tomorrow night. Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky will make his recommendation to the State Board of Education at the June 16th meeting. At that point, the State Board of Education will vote to revoke the school’s charter or let them open. My gut says revocation. The enrollment is just too low and everything in the below report doesn’t leave much room for error…