Thanks to the News Journal for getting this story out! I first wrote about the issues the Midtown Brandywine Neighborhood Association were having with Freire Charter School in Wilmington last December. The school changed locations, which caused the neighbors to become alarmed. Their biggest gripe was the number of parking spots in their neighborhood, which are already in low demand. The matter escalated in March when then Head of School scuffled with some protesters during an Open House the school was having. Porter was eventually charged for the assault, but no trial date has been set at this point in time to my knowledge.
Their neighbors filed an injunction to stop the school from opening in August, and even though the heart of the issue won’t happen for another two years when the school expands and the parking spots leased from the building owner would overflow in capacity based on the new employees, the judge doesn’t want to kick the can down the road over an already established school. The hearing date will be on July 31st.
According to Jenna Pizzi with the Delaware News Journal, the Midtown Brandywine Neighborhood Association in Wilmington is ready to do battle with Freire Charter School. Concerned with the amount of traffic coming into their neighborhood, many residents have formally hired an attorney and sent a letter to the Wilmington Department of Licenses and Inspection based on a lack of parking spaces for the school, scheduled to open in the upcoming school year. The group has also stated if their official letter does not receive a response in their favor, they will vote whether to file for an injunction against the charter school, on formal review with the Delaware Department of Education before it even opened.
At the Charter School Accountability Committee meeting last week, the school announced it has met its enrollment targets as of May 2015. State law requires any charter school to have 80% of its enrollment by April 1st before the new school year starts. Freire missed that number, but has since gone over it. The State Board of Education and Secretary of Education Mark Murphy will make a decision about the school’s formal review on June 18th. Some members of the Neighborhood Association have already filed charges against the school stemming from an incident in March, and association member Lyn Doto publicly acknowledged this a few days ago.
As per WDEL today, a Federal Judge heard the case in regards to the injunction attorneys for Reach Academy For Girls filed in an effort to keep their school open instead of being shut down at the end of this school year. The WDEL report indicated the judge should have a decision rendered by 1/14/15, the last day of school choice applications for students of Delaware’s public schools.
More information can be found here: http://www.wdel.com/story.php?id=65328
The priority school crisis in Delaware has reached a fever pitch this week. Today, the Christina School District “Negotiation” team is making a last ditch effort to try to negotiate with the despotic Delaware Department of Education. Most believe it is for naught, as the DOE and Governor Markell have already made up their mind and are gearing up to present this to the public.
There are still a few things that could stop or stall this authoritarian initiative. Unreleased FOIAs could give insight to any irregularities or outright illegal actions on the part of the DOE. The DOE could accept CSD’s new MOU (about the same time as North Korea becomes a free and open country). Someone or a group could file an injunction which would buy some time for other alternatives. A petition will be hand delivered to Mark Murphy’s office today with well over 600 signatures by Delaware Parents & Teachers For Public Education, maybe this will have some weight. The 148th General Assembly will step in and put a stop to it.
This is what I think will happen: Meeting goes south today, Markell makes an announcement either on his weekly public address tomorrow or Monday, an injunction is filed, much awaited FOIAs get released Monday that will be so heavily redacted nothing will make sense, and this starts getting sold to the public the week after next if the injunction doesn’t prevent that. And for those who think Red Clay is in the clear, think again.
Here’s the thing though: This violates Federal law. There are many students with IEPs. ANY change in placement is an IEP Team decision. So unless every single student’s IEP Team had the opportunity to be given every single choice and decided on it, any priority school MOU is illegal. We are dealing with least restrictive environment, FAPE, and educational placement here. Any change, whether it is extending the school day, or Extended School Year summer classes, or a change from public school district to charter is something the IEP Team decides, not the Delaware DOE or Governor Markell.
So if Markell and the DOE want to go ahead with their plans, go right ahead. But you will be facing the above. And I will personally spearhead this special education initiative. You always forget about the special needs students, don’t you?
UPDATED, 1/9/15: As of 1:00pm, the negotiations are still going on. I will keep you updated if I hear anything!