All School Boards Must Record: Governor Markell Signs HB61

On May 25th, Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed House Bill 61 into law. All public school boards in Delaware must record their board meetings when they are in public session and make them available on their website within seven business days of the meeting. The law goes into effect 90 days after signature, so by August 25th this is the law of the land!

This is a true victory for Kilroy’s Delaware, the godfather of education blogs in Delaware. For the very few who might not know, this has been Kilroy’s mission for the past fifty billion years or something like that. Many helped along the way, but he carried the flame. And with only a pocket full of college credits!

Kilroy promised his readers that after this mission was done he would release his long-awaited story about how “Johnny can’t read”.  I can’t wait to read it!  Congrats to the main man, the man who has inspired so many of us, who has been doing this much longer than I have, and keeps on going, the one, the only,

KILROY

HB61Signed

Kilroy’s Legacy On Senate Agenda Today For Full Senate Vote

House Bill 61, the school board audio recording legislation, is up for a full Delaware Senate vote today.  This bill has a long history in the Delaware General Assembly.  Many districts and the State Board of Education already record their board meetings and put them up on their website.  This bill would make so they all have to, including charters and vo-techs.

HB61SenateAgenda

In the 147th General Assembly, it was House Bill 23.  It was released from the House Education Committee but never progressed from there.  State Rep. Deb Hudson reintroduced the bill last year as House Bill 61.  It cleared the House Education Committee last year and passed the House this year.  A little over a month ago it was released from the Senate Education Committee.  The Chair of the Senate Education Committee is the legislator that puts it on the agenda for the Senate, which would be Senator David Sokola.  Finally, after many years, Kilroy’s dream is about to come true.  Others fought for this as well, but Kilroy was the one really pushing it.  If the Senate passes this (and I can’t think of any reason why they wouldn’t), it goes to Governor Markell for signature and then it would be the law of the land.

Never underestimate what hard work and perseverance can accomplish.  Don’t give up, even when you think all is lost.

Parents Told They Can’t Record Board Meeting Tonight At Academia Antonia Alonso

NoAudioOrVideoRecordingAllowed

Tonight, a Delaware charter school refused parents the ability to record their board meeting.  A group of parents attended the Academia Antonia Alonso Board of Directors meeting to give public comment about what they felt was unfair termination of many teachers at the school.  They wanted to record the meeting but were told they could not.  Even though charter schools are technically corporations, they still have to abide by public meeting laws in Delaware.  And in Delaware, all you have to do is advise someone you are recording a meeting.  You do not need their consent.

Charter schools in Delaware are not unionized, therefore they can hire and fire at will without any protection whatsoever for the teachers.  While one would hope charter administrators use a common sense approach in making these decisions, some charters have been known for running their schools like a dictatorship.  Some charters have fired a teacher over something as small as questioning a policy.  When this happens as often as it has at Academia Antonia Alonso this school year, sooner or later parents will begin to notice and question it themselves.  What charter boards fail to understand is they wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for a parent’s ability to make a choice.  What kind of message does that send when a parent is denied the simple freedom of recording a meeting when they don’t even need their consent?

Censored

House Bill 61, the school board recording bill, is awaiting a full vote by the Delaware Senate.  It passed the Delaware House last year.  Since then, many reports have come out about charter school fraud.  The bill is a no-brainer!  This is just another reason why this bill needs to pass.  Denying a parent of a choice is never a smart thing to do, especially when it comes to education.  For a parent to even attend a board meeting is a feat in itself.  They should be happy they have parent engagement.  I can only think of one reason a board wouldn’t want a public meeting to be heard.  And it isn’t because they don’t want parents to hear a great meeting.  They don’t want something getting out.  While the school did allow the parents to give public comment at two minutes each, will their concerns be put in the board minutes for the meeting?

What makes this more interesting is the amount of parent input they had for their recent major modification that passed the Delaware State Board of Education last week.  They had to solicit parents to comment on that publicly.  But when the parent’s want to talk about something the school doesn’t want out there, they don’t want the public to hear that.

Academia Antonia Alonso currently resides in the Community Education Building in Wilmington.  The State Board of Education approved their major modification request to move to one of the buildings owned by Odyssey Charter School at Barley Mill Plaza.  The charter school has gone through three heads of school since they opened in August of 2014, in less than two years.  They were placed on formal review before they even opened based on low enrollment.  They got out of formal review with a probation and got their enrollment up to what their charter was approved for.  In the 2014-2015 Charter School Performance Framework, the school met the standard for their financial framework but was labeled as does not meet standard for their organizational framework.

When our schools going to learn that if you try to silence parents in any way, sooner or later they will organize.  Teachers in traditional school districts already have the capability to organize through their unions.  Perhaps charter school teachers should as well to avoid these administrators who seem to think ruling with an iron fist is the right thing to do.

Kilroy’s School Board Audio Recording Bill Passes House With 40-0 Vote!

Kilroy’s School Board Audio Recording bill, sponsored by State Rep. Deb Hudson, passed the Delaware House of Representatives unanimously just now.  The final vote was 40 yes and 1 absent.  House Bill 61 is the second time this bill has been in the General Assembly.  House Bill 23, from the 147th General Assembly, never got a full House vote.

This is Kilroy’s legacy to Delaware.  He has fought hard for this bill for years.  The first time I ever went to Legislative Hall was for my failed attempt to get House Bill 23 up on the agenda.  This was my thanks to Kilroy for letting me write a very long story about my son on his blog before I started this one.  A lot has happened since then and the need for transparency from our school boards has never been greater.  It still has to go through the Senate, with the Senate Education Committee first.  But there is no reason why it shouldn’t pass there.

Congrats Kilroy!  I’m glad I got to hear it live!

State Rep. Earl Jaques said it was a great bill!

State Rep. Kim Williams thanked State Rep. Hudson for sponsoring the bill!

I emailed Kilroy a VERY BAD audio recording of the vote on the school board audio recording bill!

Kuumba, DE College Prep, Academy of Dover, Family Foundations, Providence Creek, DE Military Academy, Pencader…When Do We Make It Stop?

Charter school financial abuse.  It happens.  All the time in Delaware.  It doesn’t matter what the amount is, despite what the News Journal writes.  These are adults, playing with taxpayer money meant for students, not their own pocket.  But our State Government allows this to happen.  Delaware has no Inspector General.  Legislation meant to curtail these types of activities and lend transparency is held in limbo or doesn’t pass.  And the Delaware Charter School Network lobbies against it.  State Rep. Kim Williams House Bill 186 would allow more oversight of charters through more extensive audits.  Every single one of the House Republicans, along with the House Education Committee Chair Earl Jaques and the Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf voted no.  It passed the House on June 30th, but Senator David Sokola refused to let it be heard on the Senate floor unless it was heard in committee first.  Yet, numerous other bills had rules suspended that evening.

These schools are under the purveyance of the Delaware Department of Education and Red Clay Consolidated School District.  Why do these matters come out years after the fact after the damage is already done?  These are not elected board members at charters.  And their leaders are picked by these unelected board members.  Many of the charters websites are a joke.  Minutes aren’t always posted, agendas aren’t posted, sometimes even financial monthly statements aren’t put up.  No charter board records their meetings.  No purchase card activity is listed separately from their monthly financial statement, if it even includes that.  None of these so-called leaders have ever done jail time.  The average citizen would in a New York minute.  But we want to hold up these leaders as if they don’t walk on the same ground as the rest of us.  We don’t want to hold them accountable, but by God, we will get those traditional school districts in line.

Let me get one thing straight.  I like Jennifer Nagourney, the executive director of the Charter School Office at the DOE.  I think if she had her way, there would be many changes with charter schools.  I also believe her hands are tied by her bosses who look the other way over these kinds of offenses.  The school goes on formal review, we have the dog and pony show with the Charter School Accountability Committee, a public comment period, a formal Public Hearing, and then the State Board meets and says “Golly gee, how did this happen?” or “Why is this happening so much?”  But they put forth nothing to attempt to stop it.  But they will sneak in regulation after regulation to hold teachers and schools accountable based on a bogus assessment.  It has become a joke.  The State Board and the leaders at the DOE will kiss Rodel’s ass while they pay millions of dollars to consultants to “fix” our schools.  And the results of all these reports are always the same.

The Head of School at Kuumba Academy, named in the Delaware State Auditor’s report today sits on the Accountability Framework Working Group.  If you are not aware, this committee has the task of how to frame Delaware’s accountability school report card.  If Sally Maldonado can’t manage finances correctly and allows herself to be reimbursed for funds that are already included in her job function and her salary, can we trust her to help lead our public schools with decisions as big as this?

And then we have Delaware College Prep Board President Yardise Jones telling the State Auditor’s office “I am not following why DCPA needs to justify expenses incurred to run its business.”  While schools deal with business, the problem in Delaware is far too many “leaders” and “reformers” look at and treat schools like a business.  Children are not a profit center.  They go to school to learn.  They are not there for kickbacks into your piggy bank.  They are not there for the extra perks you get for your non-elected position on a board or your “entitlement” as a leader picked by a non-elected board.  If you want to steal from children (yes, it is stealing no matter how you slice that cake), get the hell out of education.  I have no sympathy for thieves who recklessly allow themselves to take funds that are not their own and then make excuses later.  And Delaware General Assembly legislators: you need to do something about this.  About all this education nonsense in our state.  You don’t answer to Rodel, or the Delaware Charter Schools Network, or even to Governor Markell.  You answer to the people that elected you.  The people are sick of the abuse and scandal.  And we are waking up.  Just because you get 200 emails from charter school parents after a p.r. blitz from Kendall Massett with a scripted response, that doesn’t mean passing a bill designed to fend off this kind of abuse is wrong.  It is the only right thing to do, so get off your buts and do something.  Pass House Bills 186 and 61 in January.  Stop the fraud playing out in our state.  Unless you want to join the unelected on some charter school board.

*This article has been corrected to state every single one of the House Republicans voted no on House Bill 186, not the House Democrats.   The only House Dems that voted no were Pete Schwartzkopf and Earl Jaques.

Kilroy Is Going To Go On The Warpath Over The Hat Trick…Hide Schwartzkopf and Hudson, Hide Well!!!!

I warned them, numerous times.  Get House Bill 61 to a vote.  Allow school board meetings to be recorded and put them on public web sites 7 business days after.  I told them this was the third year in a row it was on the ready list but never got to a vote.  Do they listen to me? Hell no!

In hockey, if someone gets three goals, they call it a hat trick.  Well, State Rep. Schwartzkopf and State Rep. Hudson are both the hat trick recipients for NOT getting Kilroy’s bill to a vote.  For three years in a row.  And he is NOT happy!  Hudson sponsored the bill three years in a row, and Speaker of the House Schwartzkopf let it sit there,  gathering dust, three years in a row.

I would not want to be on the receiving end of whatever comes next.  And I’m guessing he will leave no stone unturned.  I get a lot of information from people and I’ve only been doing this for a little over a year.  Kilroy has been doing this for 10 years…fair warning once again…watch out!

House Bill 186 Is #1 With A Bullet, Aimed Directly At Charter School Accountability

The Delaware House of Representatives released their House Agenda for their last day of legislative session until January 2016.  The first item on the agenda is State Rep. Kim William’s House Bill 186.  These are the reasons this bill needs to pass:

1) Noel Rodriguez & Academy of Dover- $127,000 in personal spending and another $129,000 the State Auditor isn’t sure was used for school or personal spending.  As well, an anonymous source informed me two other staff members at the school were also pilfering funds, and this was reported to the FBI, but nothing has come from any of that…

2) Family Foundations Academy, Sean Moore & Tennell Brewington- over $90,000 in person spending between this dynamic duo, with hundreds of thousands of dollars in other questionable spending performed by this school during their reign.  The State Auditor’s report hasn’t come out yet on this one, but it will be a doozy that may make Academy of Dover look weak in comparison.

3) Delaware Military Academy & Jack Wintermantel- while out of the news, this 2013 State Auditor investigation found numerous financial violations at this school.  Source: http://auditor.delaware.gov/Reports/FY2013/DMA%20Investigative%20Report.pdf

4) The seeming inability for many charter schools to accurately code items correctly on the state financing website, as indicated by what is shown on Delaware Online Checkbook.  In some situations, funds are allocated in areas that have absolutely nothing to do with why the funds were spent, i.e. Academy of Dover putting a payment for an out of state residential treatment center under “Employee Recognition”.  Furthermore, putting students names in a special education settlement transaction on Delaware Online Checkbook is a clear violation of FERPA legislation but schools continue to do this.

5) Section 347 of Paragraph 508 of Title 14: This special designation for charter schools allows them to keep the unused portion of their transportation funds for “educational purposes”, but there is no clear mention of what those “educational purposes” can be, or where the funds should be directed on an accounting level.  In the past two fiscal years, over $2.4 million dollars was kept by Delaware charter schools, with Family Foundations Academy and Newark Charter School each keeping over $400,000 EACH from this caveat.

6) As indicated by the ten charter school performance fund applications I just posted, most schools don’t have a clue about finances and what funds can go to which allotment.

7) The Delaware Charter School Network is vehemently opposed to this bill- while they have a right to be concerned about the cost of audits, the cost to taxpayers over the complete and utter disregard of how taxpayer funds are spent as well as the strain and disruption this places on all education in Delaware makes it very clear more oversight is needed over the Wild West of Finances occurring in our charter schools.  As well, at least two of the current or former members of their governing board are/were heads of school at two of the charter schools that are being investigated, and one of them sits on the Charter School Accountability Committee at the Delaware DOE

8) The DOE is not in a position to do anything about this: through a complete lack of oversight over the charter schools they authorize, the DOE has never caught fraud in the act.  They do not monitor they money flowing in and out of these schools

9) Lack of oversight at the charter schools themselves- many charter schools just started having a Citizens Budget Oversight Committee this year.  This has been in state code for years.  As well, a DOE representative is supposed to be at each meeting for each school.  If some of these schools that have operated for years never had a DOE rep at their non-existent CBOC meetings, than the DOE fell asleep at the wheel but they are never held accountable.

10) In discussing House Bill 186, the State Auditor’s office said seven charter schools are under investigation.  We know Academy of Dover, Family Foundations Academy, and Providence Creek Academy are three, but who are the other four?  Judging by their board minutes, Thomas Edison Charter School may be one, but who are the other three and why are they being investigated?

Kendall Massett at the Delaware Charter Schools Network is fighting like a House Bill 50 parent proponent, but she is against this bill.  She has emails going out every day begging parents to email legislators to stop this bill.  Should what is essentially a lobbyist firm receive that much free reign to stop a bill?  What is Kendall so afraid of?  Is there something much, much bigger yet to be discovered?  That wouldn’t shock me at all.

The Delaware Charter School Tranportation Slush Fund Fully Revealed In State Code & Epilogue Language

Delaware State Code allows for charter schools in the state to keep any excess transportation costs for “educational purposes”.  No clarification is given for what those educational purposes are or what sections of the school budget they need to be allocated to.  As a result, Delaware charters have “kept” an estimated $1.35 million dollars, a luxury traditional public school districts do not have.  Certain commenters over on Kilroy’s Delaware claim this isn’t true, and even went so far as to post the full Title 14 Delaware code § 508 of the state code, which doesn’t indicate the slush fund.

“ § 508 Responsibility for student transportation.

The charter school may request to have the school district where the charter school is located transport students residing in that district to and from the charter school on the same basis offered to other students attending schools operated by the district, or to receive from the State a payment equal to 70% of the average cost per student of transportation within the vocational district in which the charter school is located and become responsible for the transportation of those students to and from the charter school. In the case of students not residing in the district where the charter school is located, the parents of such students shall be responsible for transporting the child without reimbursement to and from a point on a regular bus route of the charter school. In lieu of the payment from the State specified above, if a charter school utilizes a contractor for student transportation the charter school shall publicly bid the routes, and the State shall reimburse the charter school for the actual bid costs only if lower than the payment specified above. Notwithstanding the foregoing, a student at a charter school shall receive such transportation assistance as is made available to students pursuant to a public school choice program established by this Code provided that such student otherwise meets the eligibility requirements for such assistance. In the event a charter school chooses to transport students itself, it shall do so in accordance with all public school transportation safety regulations. Local school districts and charter schools shall cooperate to ensure that the implementation of this chapter does not result in inefficient use of state appropriations for public school transportation and the State Board shall exercise its authority to approve bus routes so as to avoid such waste.”

However, what the rocket scientist over on Kilroy’s Delaware failed to do, most likely deliberately as to show people he is right and everyone else arguing against him is wrong, is put in the part from the Fiscal budget which clearly indicates, in Section 347 of House Bill 225.  Even more hysterical, this commenter damn well knows about this, but blogger honor demands I not out the clown.

Section 347. (a) Notwithstanding 14 Del. C. § 508 or any regulation to the contrary, a charter school may negotiate a contract (multi-year, if desired) for contractor payment for school transportation up to the maximum rate specified which is currently 70 percent of the average cost per student of transportation within the vocational district in which the charter school is located or the charter school may publicly bid the transportation routes.  If the actual negotiated or bid costs are lower then the maximum rate specified above, the charter school may keep the difference for educational purposes.  If the charter school includes a fuel adjustment contract provision, the charter school shall be responsible for increased payments to the contractor or it may keep funds taken back from the contractor.

I wrote an article on this back in January, which clearly showed exactly how much each of the following charter schools were able to keep in FY14 based on this transportation slush fund buried at the near end of the state budget:

Academy of Dover: $56,788

Campus Community: $148,578

Charter School of Wilmington: $63,755

DE Academy of Public Safety & Security: $13,894

DE College Prep Academy: $17,750

DE Military Academy: $21,877

East Side Charter: $31,451

Family Foundations: $384,769

Kuumba Academy: $64,352

Las Americas Aspiras: $103,958

MOT Charter School: $23,126

Moyer Academy: $22,596

Newark Charter: $227,827

Odyssey: $150,607

Reach Academy: $25,647

Providence Creek Academy and Sussex Academy use their own buses, Thomas Edison broke even, Positive Outcomes uses Caesar Rodney School District buses, and Gateway and Prestige Academy each lost over $20,000 on this deal.

So collectively these 15 charters made $1,357,002.00, for average of $90,466.80 a school.  The amounts for Odyssey, Newark Charter School, Family Foundations, Campus Community and Las Americas Aspiras are all well over $100,000.  With no mandated allocation of funds except for the very vague “educational purposes” and no oversight of how they use these funds, who knows where they are going.  In the case of Family Foundations Academy, where the two school leaders embezzled over $90,000 in personal spending, and Academy of Dover where one principal spent over $127,000 in personal purchases, how is it even possible to trust how the schools are spending these funds.  Where is the accountability for these funds?

One Delaware legislator has said enough is enough, and he is requesting lawmakers to make an amendment to get rid of this:

Dear all,

Note HB225—- page 231, Section 347 lines 25-26. This is the language that is consistently inserted over the last 6-7 budgets that conflicts with the Title 14 section 508 mandate to return unused (for transportation) taxpayer money by Charter Schools. The amendment I am filing removes this onerous disregard for taxpayer money from the budget and I hope each and every one of you will support it to restore accountability and specificity of allocation to our spending of those taxpayer dollars. It is our responsibility to ensure that this practice ceases.

Respectfully

John Kowalko

I’m sure the rowdy bunch over at Kilroy’s will say I am doing my master’s bidding since they seem to think Kowalko owns me, which is so far removed from the truth it’s not even funny.  There are numerous issues I disagree with Kowalko on, but when it comes to education we align.

As Rep. Kim Williams House Bill 186 (charter school post-audit with the State Auditor) is supposed to get a vote on Tuesday  June 30th, and hopefully Rep. Debbie Hudson’s House Bill 61 (mandatory school board recordings) is put to a vote, and rules are suspended for each, along with Kowalko’s proposed amendment to the budget, we can start to see some legislative oversight and transparency over Delaware charter schools.  It all depends on how quick the Delaware Charter Schools Network and Kendall Massett can get their people down to Legislative Hall on Tuesday…

 

My Email To Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf & Senator Patricia Blevins About House Bills 186 & 61

After seeing the stunts pulled by the Earl Jaques with House Bill 186, the Academy of Dover State Auditor report, and the very deliberate attempts by the Delaware Charter Schools Network to kill the bill, I decided to start digging into charter school board minutes yesterday which is how I found out the information on Odyssey Charter and Thomas Edison Charter School.  By the time I published that information, I was pretty livid and disgusted, so I emailed the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate to get both House Bill 186 AND House Bill 61.  This is what I wrote:

Good Evening Rep. Schwartzkopf and Senator Blevins,

I wrote two articles on Exceptional Delaware tonight about two Delaware charter schools, Odyssey and Thomas Edison.  All my information was obtained from their own board minutes.  These charters, along with Academy of Dover, Family Foundations Academy and Providence Creek Academy and two other unnamed charters are all having huge financial issues as well as investigations by Tom Wagner’s office.

Rep. Kim Williams has been monitoring these situations since last December when Family Foundations Academy was revealed to have fraud and waste going on with spending by their two heads of schools.  She very wisely introduced House Bill 53, then House Bill 154, both of which were folded into House Bill 186.  After a week of being in limbo, the bill was finally released from committee today.  I am asking you both a huge favor here, and I know I have no position to make this request.

I am asking Rep. Schwartzkopf to place this, as well as House Bill 61 (allows for recording of all school board meetings) on the agenda for a House vote tomorrow, and if it passes, that Senator Blevins suspends Delaware Senate rules and petition these bills out of the education committee and have them on the agenda for a Senate vote before midnight on June 30th. 

While we are cutting funds from services that desperately need funds, our charter schools are running amok.  And these are only the ones we KNOW are doing stuff to warrant an investigation by Wagner’s office.  For some reason, they are protected by organizations like the Delaware Charter Schools Network who may or may not know about many of these financial improprieties. 

If we truly want to make Delaware education a top priority, it starts with oversight of our schools.  This is beyond the point of absurdity.  Thank you very much for your consideration on this matter and I pray you will make the right decisions here for the good of Delaware students.

Kevin Ohlandt

If you would also like to see this action taken, please call Schwartkopf at (302) 744-4531 or email him at Peter.Schwartzokpf@state.de.us and call Blevins at (302) 744-4133 or email her at Patricia.Blevins@state.de.us and let them know you want votes on both of these very important bills.  And I strongly recommend doing this prior to 2pm today!

House Bill 61 Needs A House Vote! My Letter To Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf and Why You Should Email Him Too!

House Bill 61 would make all public school boards, including charter and  vocational, record their board meetings and publish them on their website within seven business days.  This bill is very important, and it operates in the same vein as House Bill 50, the parent opt-out bill.  It would give parents and citizens major transparency into the workings of our schools.  There has never been a more urgent call for transparency in Delaware schools and parents have a right to know what is going on.  This bill just codifies this transparency right.  Please email Delaware Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf at peter.schwartzkopf@state.de.us and ask him to put this on the agenda as soon as possible!

  • Today at 9:29 PM
To
  • Schwartzkopf Peter
Dear Representative and Speaker of the House Schwartzkopf,
I am writing you this evening to bring House Bill 61 to a full House vote.  This would be the third legislative session this bill has sat on the ready list with no action taken after committee.  I think this year it is essential this bill moves forward.  We have many charter schools who are or who have been under formal review.  It is very important the people of Delaware have the ability to hear what is being said at board meetings.  As I’m sure you know, the State Board of Education and many school district boards already record their meetings and make them available to the public. 
This fiscal year alone, we have serious financial mismanagements at several charter schools.  Three of them are currently under investigation at State Auditor Tom Wagner’s office, and I’ve heard there are more charters yet to be named as well as at least two school districts.  It is imperative parents know the full scope of what is going on in our schools so we can make the best possible choices for our children.  Unfortunately, most parents are not able to attend board meetings, but this bill would allow them the capability of making the time to listen to the decisions being made at all of our schools.  
I attend many meetings where they are recorded, and it is often necessary to go back and listen again to understand the full scenario on certain issues.  Parents want this.  Some don’t even know they want this yet.  But the day may come when their child’s school is under investigation, or parents just want to know what happens at this level, and with the passage of House Bill 61, it would be a reality.  You already impressed many with your yes vote for House Bill 50, now it is time to give more to parents through transparency.  Thank you for your time,
Kevin Ohlandt 

Numerous Parents, Delaware PTA, and DSEA Support Parent Opt-Out…Will The Senate?

Opt-Out.  It’s here, it’s real, and it may soon become law in Delaware.  What started out as a resolution in DSEA last year has morphed into one of the hottest topics during this legislative session.  We all know the House of Representatives voted 36-3 to pass a bill designed to codify parental rights to opt out.  Will the Delaware Senate show similar gusto in the face of harsh opposition?

We will find out, but not the full effect, on Wednesday at the Senate Education Committee meeting.  Sources are telling me House Bill 50 will be heard first in the committee.  With numerous schools already done for the summer around the state, I expect a hearty crowd.

Meanwhile, the House will be voting in full for quite a few education bills on Tuesday.  House Bill 82 w/Amendment #1 is about the Secretary of Education and his ability to rule on collective bargaining while giving authority to the Public Employment Relations Board.  House Bill 146 is in regards to teacher educator license fees.  And House Bill 148 would create the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission.  Across the hall in the Senate, they will vote for SS1 for Senate Bill 79, which would create a task force to go over education data and privacy around it.

Meanwhile, House Bill 61 sits on the ready list, as it has the past three years.  Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf needs to get this bill to a full vote.  Maybe he isn’t aware how much the people do want a bill like this.  Perhaps it’s time to make him aware of that…

Kilroy’s Legislation Up For Next House Education Committee Meeting

House Bill 61, the Kilroy’s bill, would mandate all school boards must digitally record their meetings and place the audio on their website within seven business days.  I’m crossing my fingers that the third time is the charm on this one!  Come and support Kilroy’s legislation as sponsored by State Rep. Deborah Hudson on May 6th at 2:30pm!

Agenda
HB 61 AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS.  Sponsor : Hudson

HB 96 AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO SILENT ALARM SYSTEMS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS.  Sponsor : Miro

HB 82 AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION. Sponsor : Lynn

*agenda courtesy of http://legis.delaware.gov

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!

Kilroy Will Be Happy With House Bill 61 But Only If The Transparency Gods Allow It To Get To A Vote!

Delaware State Representative Deborah Hudson has once again introduced a bill which would demand ALL school boards in Delaware digitally record their board meetings and make them available to the public.  It was also introduced in the 147th General Assembly as House Bill 23, but was never put out for a vote.  So let’s do the time warp again and pray this bill gets a full vote by the House and Senate and passes!  With all of the shenanigans made public by various charter schools in the past year, this is needed and transparency needs to rule the day as Kilroy would say.  I think this bill has much stronger muscle in the House this time, but the Senate will need some work.

What is interesting is who sponsored it last time and who is doing so now. We have Hudson and Karen Peterson as a co-sponsor.  Dukes, Baumbach and Kim Williams from the House stayed on.  From the Senate we have just Greg Lavelle.  Gone as sponsors from the House in House Bill 23 are D. Short, Miro, Peterman, Mitchell, Bennett, and Wilson; and from the Senate, Hocker, Simpson and Townsend have left.  But House Bill 61 does have new sponsors from the House: Briggs King, Hensley, Yearick, Bolden, Jaques, Lynn, Matthews, Osienski and Paradee, and the Senate: Bonini.

The actual wording on the bill looks the same as House Bill 23.  The only additional language is the part about executive sessions, workshops and retreats not being included as their are no votes at these sessions.