Christina Superintendent Freeman Williams Submits Retirement Letter

The on-leave Superintendent of the Christina School District, Freeman Williams, submitted a retirement letter to the district effective February, 2016.  In August, Williams went on a leave status which prompted the Christina Board of Education to hire an Acting Superintendent.  Former Red Clay Superintendent Bob Andrzejewski is the current Acting Superintendent, but Christina’s Board must now look for a new and permanent Superintendent.

The first time I met Freeman was 13 months ago at a special board meeting at Christina surrounding the priority schools.  I found him to be very cordial and respectful, and he was greatly concerned about the priority status designated to the three Christina schools.  I attended quite a few Christina board meetings in the next five months and watched them systematically and efficiently hold back the Delaware Department of Education and Governor Markell from making rash and hasty decisions over the Christina priority schools.

The last time I saw Freeman was at the Imagine Delaware Forum back in March.  I had a very pleasant discussion with him concerning House Bill 50 and parent opt-out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, which he supported.  Whatever his reason for retirement, I wish him the best and I hope he enjoys his time away from the crazy education environment we live in.

As Christina will assuredly attempt another referendum in 2016 amidst severe financial issues, the search will be on for a new Superintendent.  This district needs a very strong leader who can rally the people in favor of Christina.  While some think Christina may wind up in receivership by the end of the year, I would prefer to have hope.  The long-term impact of charters has definitely siphoned off a great deal of local funding due to many of the students in Christina’s feeder pattern choicing out to charters, and the emergence of so many new charters in Wilmington this school year alone has definitely had a negative effect.  Now is the time for Christina to strongly promote their strengths and eliminate their weaknesses.  What many don’t realize is Christina also holds the Delaware Autism Program and the Delaware School for the Deaf.  That could cause tremendous problems for the students involved if they have to transition out of the existing programs.

World War III Erupts In Christina With Hiring Of Andrzejewski As Interim Superintendent

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.

From Facebook: Continue reading

The Trials and Tribulations of the Christina School District & Board

As everyone surely knows by now, Christina Superintendent Dr. Freeman Williams has taken a leave of absence.  Many are speculating as to the reasons why, but frankly I don’t feel it is anyone’s business other than Freeman’s.  He is doing what he has to do and I will leave it at that.

But what happens next for Christina is anyone’s guess.  Their deputy superintendent, Dr. Fara Zimmerman, is retiring at the end of August.  So who will run Christina during Freeman’s absence?  Nobody knows at this point.  There was a posting for a deputy superintendent, but that posting has been pulled.  Sources say this was pulled by one member of the board without consulting other members of the board.  Once again, this is one of the individuals who seems to think making major unilateral decisions for the district is more important than discussing this with other members.

Next Tuesday, the board has their monthly meeting and I expect more than a few fireworks to go off.  Tensions have been building in this district from all ends, and with these latest two events, as well as the whole “agendagate” from last week, the allegation that two board members acted to try to get Christina investigated by the State Auditor, two referendums that didn’t pass, substantial layoffs, an essential referendum for next year, and the whole Wilmington redistricting thing which seems to be putting Christina into a corner, this is a district on the edge.

What this district needs is fresh blood that puts children first.  They need a strong, vocal, and very heavy in education experience leader.  Not a coach, or a captain.  They need a General!  Someone who will take charge with vast amounts of experience in these types of issues.  Someone who will get out to the community and rally the people.  If Christina falls, it’s only a matter of time before something like that spreads.  We all know Governor Jack wants to further his corporate education reform agendas and get more charters in Delaware.  If anyone his any misconception or illusion concerning this at this point, I can only say “Wake Up!”

Governor Markell is drunk with power, but he doesn’t realize yet how bad the hangover is going to be for him.  It’s never been students first, it’s always been Jack first.  For Christina School District, Jack has made them his punching bag for so long it isn’t even funny.  It never was.  This isn’t to say Christina doesn’t have issues.  But when you are the largest district in the state, serving some of the most vulnerable of children, and charters are taking away the best students, there are bound to be issues.  Christina needs to unify, and it’s now or never.  They need to get their board to act in unity and pick the best leader for their district.  I am rooting for them!

State Auditor’s Office Confirms No Financial Or Investigate Audit On Christina School District

Freeman Williams sent another email to me regarding the “Christina Audit” question.  There are two standard audits that are performed for every school district in the state, but as Obi-Wan Kenobi so brilliantly said, “These are not the droids you’re looking for…”

To
  • Kevin Ohlandt

Kevin,

I have some additional information for you. The State Auditor’s Office, Kathleen Davies, the Chief Administrative Auditor, responded to the following question: Are there any open audits?
Her response was that there are two current Open Audits:
1.      State of Delaware Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) – Christina School District as an Agency of the State is included in this audit.
2.      State of Delaware Fiscal Year Single Audit – Federal and Local Funds

She added that these noted are Statewide Audits that occur this time of year.

She also responded that there are no Investigations or Financial Audits involving the Christina School District.

Freeman

Freeman L  Williams, Ed. D.
Superintendent
Christina School District
600 N. Lombard St.
Wilmington, DE 19801
302-552-2661

Well, this definitely squashes an official investigation into Christina School District, but a call was made to the auditor’s office, which I’m being told is very similar to a recent comment made on here, and it did come from two board members.  The question is, what do the other five board members do about it?  While I can’t reveal the whodunit, I can say this will cause a lot of issues on the board.  If the district needed to be audited, it would have happened.  I don’t take issue with that.  Nor do I take issue with any citizen anonymously reporting to the State Auditor’s office.  What I do take issue with is two board members doing this, and not reporting it to the rest of the board, no matter what the result was.  It is not illegal, what this dynamic duo did, but it comes down to a matter of teamwork and trust.

Christina Superintendent Freeman Williams Responds To Question Of State Audit

Christina School District Superintendent Freeman Williams just sent an email to me in regards to my direct question of whether or not Christina is under investigation by the Delaware State Auditor.  Before I post his response, I have it on very good authority that the two board members did contact the Delaware DOE who in turn sent the two board members to the State Auditor’s office because any information the DOE gave the auditor’s office would be hearsay.  The two board members did proceed.

The email from Freeman Williams:

To
  • Kevin Ohlandt
  • WILLIAMS FREEMAN

An individual at the House Education Committee meeting on 6/17/15 did have direct knowledge of this information and was shocked when Kathleen Davies said no traditional school district was under investigation by the State Auditor’s office based on this knowledge.  It appears the State Auditor’s office didn’t feel the information supplied to them was enough to open an investigation.  If this was the case, than why are board members going to the State Auditor’s office with information like this?  What would they hope to gain?  The next board meeting at Christina will be VERY interesting!

DEBUNKED: Not Official Yet, But Christina School District May Be Under Investigation By State Auditor’s Office

UPDATED, 3:21pm, 7/30/15: Based on an email by Christina Superintendent Freeman Williams, Christina School District is not part of any open or official audit at this time.  Questions are being asked about how this whole information came about to begin with.

While this has not been officially released to the public, I have heard from very reliable sources that the Christina School District is under investigation by Delaware State Auditor Tom Wagner’s office.  This is what I was talking about yesterday with the two board members, because they handed the district in.  These two board members did NOT inform anyone else on the board of this decision.

I contacted Kathleen Davies with the State Auditor’s office yesterday, and she would neither confirm or deny the question.  She did state IF they were under investigation a report would be released to the public.  As well, I sent an email to Christina Superintendent Freeman Williams and Board President Harrie Ellen Minnehan, but I have yet to receive a response as of earlier today, but I did inform them both I would be going public with this information as of 1:30pm today.

The exact nature of the investigation is not yet known, but rumors of rampant spending involving car allowances, cell phones and other similar types of spending have been circulating ever since the 2nd referendum in Christina was announced earlier this year.

One source stated this information was provided by the board members to the State Auditor’s office in mid June, prior to the House Education Committee meeting on June 17th.  But at the House Education Committee meeting on June 17th, Kathleen Davies with the State Auditor’s office publicly stated there were no investigations going on with traditional school districts.  This was during the discussion of State Rep. Kim Williams charter school audit bill, House Bill 186.  However, if the call to the State Auditor’s office from the board members took place 2-3 days prior, the investigation may not have been officially opened.

What The Hell Is Going On With Christina School District?

In response to my reblog of a post on Kilroy’s Delaware, someone made a comment on my side of things, and it is very damning to Christina School District.  Meanwhile there are multiple accusations flying all over the place regarding a potential mole on Christina’s board.

I don’t understand. Is this meeting called by the school board or Markell? Is Kilroy saying Markell has minions on the Christina school board who will do his bidding to force Dr. Williams out?

As a CSD resident and parent, I don’t think that it is wrong to evaluate Williams’ competency and ability to lead the district. My question would be, why has it taken this long? Under his watch we have seen an increase in unnecessary spending that has created an environment of financial instability.

I know, I know, cost of running the district have gone up and monies coming in have remained flat. I get that, and I accept it, but Dr. Williams and his henchman, Bob Silber, have known this for the last three years! They have seen this coming, yet they chose to give car allowances to top level district employees…..BMW, Mercedes and Lexus vehicles being paid for with MY tax dollars. Cell phones for hundreds of district employees paid for with MY tax dollars. Travel reimbursement for regular job travel, meaning these people knew they’d be driving a lot when they took their positions, amounts that register in the thousands of dollars. The head of HR begin reimbursed for freight costs. What is the head of HR ordering, presumably for district business, that she has to pay the freight cost personally and then be reimbursed? These are the kinds of things that are going on under Dr. Williams’ watch. And this just scratches the surface! And don’t forget the two failed referendum.

So, should Freeman (there is no “d” in his name, Kilroy) be under review? ABSOLUTELY! The board needs to take a long, hard look at how he has run the district for the last three years. And not only him, but his chief staff members. There is shady business afoot in CSD finance and personnel.

Having said all of that, I hope and pray that there are not Markell-influenced members of the board who are trying to help the governor manhandle the future of this district. The last thing we need is this US DOE want-to-be poking his bald head any further into our business. He obviously does not know, nor does he care, about true education in this state. His veto of HB50 sealed his fate, and how he’s in a panic to try to clean up his name, but he needs to find another way to do it. And he needs to keep his ugly mitts off of our children’s future.

Those are some very serious accusations against Freeman Williams and other administrators within the district.  The next couple weeks should be VERY interesting in Christina.  After failing to pass two referendums, declining enrollment due to parents choicing out of district, and the whole redistricting effort in Wilmington to get City of Wilmington schools out of Christina, this district has some large battles ahead.  Is there dissension on the board?  It appears so, and how it shakes out will be anyone’s guess.  Does Governor Markell have a hand in this?  This I do not know at all and I’m kind of doubting he would tell me if I asked him!

In terms of the legality of the whole agenda issue, the question looms based on the recent Attorney General opinion on Appoquinimink’s school board discussing their Superintendent Matt Burrows’ contract in executive session.  Should Freeman Williams’ “accountability” hearing be a matter of private or public session.  Between here and Kilroy’s, comments are swinging more towards executive session, but the issue of legality should be resolved prior to this meeting, not after.

Priority Schools Update: Christina Board President & Superintendent made plans w/Governor’s office, not DOE **UPDATED**

According to Fred Polaski, the Christina Board of Education President, he and Superintendent Freeman Williams met with Lindsey O’Mara, the education advisor for Governor Markell, in hashing out an agreement over the three priority schools in their district.  The Delaware Department of Education was there at the beginning of the meeting, and left soon after.  More details as they emerge…

I’m not sure if this was at this meeting, before, or after, but apparently DOE Officer of Accountability Penny Schwinn told Christina she already has three assistant principals already in mind for the three priority schools during the “transition”.

The Christina Board is getting ready to vote on the decision to follow this plan, developed not by Christina and the DOE, but Christina and Governor Markell’s office.

The Christina Board passed the Markell/DOE plan (still waiting to find out whose plan it was), by a 4-1-2 vote.  For those keeping track, the yes votes belonged to John Young, Elizabeth Paige, David Ressler and Fred Polaski.  Harrie Minnehan voted no, and George Evans and Shirley Saffer abstained.  The board also voted unanimously for a second referendum on May 27th.