Delaware Met To Face Delaware DOE Tomorrow…A Sneak Peak At Their Response

At 1:30pm tomorrow, the Delaware Met will appear before the Charter School Accountability Committee to answer questions surrounding their Formal Review.  At the October Delaware State Board of Education meeting, the board unanimously agreed to placing the brand new charter school on formal review two months after they opened.  The school wrote a response to the allegations surrounding the Formal Review.

The school has also submitted many documents, which can be found here.  But I thought a peak at the financial information they submitted to the DOE is warranted for this article.  These documents confirm their current enrollment at 218 students.

DelMetFinancial2016

DelMetFinancial2016_2

DelMetFinancial2016_3

DelMetFinancial2016_4

Also in these documents are charts showing which traditional school districts their students are coming from along with their estimated unit counts for funding from Delaware:

DelMetEnrollment1

DelMetEnrollment2

DelMetEnrollment3

Last week, Wilmington Mayor Williams and the police went to the school to address matters as well.  An advocate well known in Wilmington by the name of CEO Hope attended as well.  This will be a very interesting meeting tomorrow as a formal review this early in a charter school’s history is unprecedented.  Note to attendees: there is no public comment at these meetings.  That will occur on November 16th, and this is listed on this blog’s Education Meetings and Events page:

11/16: Delaware Met Formal Review Public Hearing, 5pm, Carvel State Office Bldg., Auditorium, 820 N. French St., 2nd Floor, Wilmington

The final recommendation by the Charter School Accountability Committee will not happen until their 11/30 meeting.  After that, Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky will submit his final decision to the State Board of Education at their December 17th meeting where the board will vote for final action.

WEIC’s Charter-District Collaboration Meeting Minutes Show Obvious Barriers

A student from the Charter School of Wilmington described the sense of community at his school, and the concern that this committee might break up that community that is very important to the school.

 

I didn’t expect the Charter School of Wilmington issues to come up so fast in the whole Wilmington Education Improvement Commission/redistricting initiative, but I’m glad the elephant in the room was addressed in the first Charter and District Collaboration Committee meeting.  The minutes from the September 23rd meeting, seen below, show many of the concerns surrounding the whole charter/traditional conversation from both sides of the aisle.

The one part that was brought up was the whole nature of a “consortium” for the Wilmington charters which was brought up in the original WEAC report (or book if you have it, there are a few thousand of these floating around Delaware).  A commenter made the following statement:

The recommendation in the WEAC report is on collaboration in the form of a consortium. It is important to focus time around that, and decide if a brand new consortium is necessary or if you should work with the existing Charter School Network and Innovative Schools. We need to embrace the existing options and use the organizations we have, and determine what target we are aiming at.

Yeah, I don’t know if I can recommend Innovative Schools as a role model these days.  They have their hands full with the schools they are operating in.  And we all know what is going on with Delaware Met.  To have the Delaware Charter Schools Network running the show is also a recipe for disaster.  They have not shown a true willingness to work with traditional school districts and this has caused a lot of angst with the issues.  Especially when it comes to equity among the two and legislation to even the playing field.

There are lots of other interesting and conversation-starting bits in here.

Delaware Met Teacher Comes Out Swinging In Defense Of The School

Yesterday, a commenter on a Delaware Met post finally broke the silence coming from the embattled charter school!  She has some very interesting things to say.

Kevin,

I am a teacher at the Delaware Met. I am going to use this comment space, to tell you about myself. After reading and sharing details about my long career in education, I am hoping you will use myself and other dedicated teachers to gather your information. Hopefully after reading my post you will feel more comfortable the staff at the Delaware Met in partnership with Innovative Schools and Big Picture Learning has the resources, talent and passion to create a better alternative for the students who selected the school as an alternative to the current offerings in New Castle County.

Clearly I have led a long career learning how best to serve underserved students.

After graduating from the University of Delaware Number 1 in my class and Student Teacher of the Year , I have worked for A.I Dupont High School; Ursuline Academy as the Swim Coach, Track Coach and Department Chair; been an instructor at the University of Delaware in teaching Social Studies and Science Methods for the Education Department; been the Achievement Director at a school with 90% Free and Reduced Lunch that was a Superior School ( 8 years); won two Super Star in Education Awards; attended a conference for the top 100 Charter Leaders in the Country; been a math instructional coach for several high poverty schools in Hawaii; participated on a team with John Chubb and Benno Schmidt, the former President of Yale, developing a curriculum for 400 principals in Abu Dhabi; paid out of pocket to take all the required courses and earned a degree in School Leadership at Wilmington University; paid extra money to attend the Harvard Graduate School of Education Principal Academy for Urban School Leadership; interviewed 1,000 men under the age of 21 incarcerated at Gander Hill; developed 250-300 IEP’s for students at Gander Hill that had not reached the age of 21; personally delivered services to the most difficult offenders including decoding and basic reading support for students in solitary confinement; served as the Director of a STEM Camp in the remote desert above the Saudi Arabian oasis teaching girls how to fly drones and program semi-conductors; personally travelled to all of the high achieving Charters in New Jersey and above and interviewed all of the staff about best practices- I choose the Delaware Met to finish the last 3-5 years of my career.

Let me know if you still think I am unqualified. I have 1000% confidence in the team, the model and the staff to make significant changes in the opportunities for the students in our town. If you want more information, please contact me directly at susiemurphyogden@yahoo.com.

Let me see if you post this- and then I will follow with additional information.

To which I responded:

Sue, thank you for reaching out. I have to say, since all of this started with Delaware Met, you are the first person from the school to reach out to me. I emailed the President of the Board and the Head of School, both of whom I later found out have other things going on medically related. I applaud you for contacting me and commenting.

 My problem with all of this is this is an experiment. These students have been through the wringer. About 70% of the students at Del Met attended Moyer. While last year was a huge improvement for many of these students, they come from areas where all the expertise in the world do not apply when it comes to truly understanding them. I’m not saying you don’t, and your resume is certainly impressive. Do all the teachers at Del Met have a resume this extensive? Upon looking at your experience, you should probably be running the school! Seriously.

 My deepest concerns are with the leadership at the school and the board. These students don’t have time for the adults to figure it out and get it right. They should have been prepared from day one, not two months into school. I can not for the life of me fathom how they were not aware of the kinds of issues they could have with their student population. The fact there is no State Resource Officer in the school astounds me.

 I will always publish comments. I have never not published a comment unless it is an utter fabrication and lie. I prefer them to be the real person, but I accept anonymous comments as well. But I have outed one commenter who wanted to play some games with me, but that was a very unique circumstance.

 While I have your attention, this is the school’s chance to let us know what is going on there. When a school shuts down all communication, people wonder why there is a veil of silence. I will gladly listen to the story, and I’m sure my readers will want to know as well.

 Obviously there are giant issues there, otherwise the DOE would not have put a brand new charter on formal review. So please, if you are able, be the voice for this school that is so desperately needed right now.

And she came back:

“My problem with all of this is this is an experiment.”..Not true-There is not one program, process or practice that is not grounded in research that I personally have experienced as effective. I would not have voluntarily given up my job in the Prison and walked away from a pretty straight forward path to retirement if I did not believe in my heart that this Charter had assembled the best minds for solving the most difficult problems that are hurting our city and ultimately damaging everyone who is associated with the reputation of our city as Murdertown.

I spent 5 years locked in with the worst offenders under 21 and asked ” what could we have done better to have prevented you from committing your crime. ” Those young men told me their story. They started telling me about school as far back as they could remember and we talked about a way to improve their experience in school. One young man said ” you people are all talk and no action. You are not willing to come into the city and really do anything to help us.”

When he left the prison to go home he was in his cell and he said ” I love you Ms Ogden.” I said ” I love you too, be safe and don’t get shot.” Less than a week later he had 8 bullets in his head and died on the street in a pool of blood. I was pretty shook up.

I got a call from the Delaware Met and saw a connect between the Big Picture Model and everything I learned from the kids in prison. Not all of the kids at the Met are “at risk.” Many come from families with mom’s and dad’s that have great jobs. There is a very diverse population. The paradigm shift meets the needs of both the at risk kids and the kids from homes that are not at risk but want something different. There is great research behind every aspect of the model. Implementation of any new charter takes time and this is not my first rodeo with the first 60 days of a start up. Stay tuned for this Charter to fulfill the mission Charter’s were intended: To show alternatives that work – but not experiments.

This is my third Charter “start-up.”

I look forward to hearing more from Sue Ogden!

First State Military Academy Having BIG Issues As Well, Another “Model” Of Learning Through Innovative Schools…

Looks like Delaware Met isn’t the only brand new charter school to open this year that is having problems.  Turns out First State Military Academy in Kent County is feeling major opening pains as well.  First State Military Academy (FSMA) picked the Innovative Schools inspired “New Tech Network” for their model.  You would think with a technology-based program the school would have computers for all the kids.  Nope, they are thirty short.  Oops!  Innovative Schools website describes this “New Tech Network as:

New Tech Network (NTN) is a non-profit school development organization that works with districts to build and sustain innovative K-12 public schools. NTN works to create a rigourous and engaging school experience that features the intense use of Project-Based Learning and technology to establish a positive and engaging school culture. In the seventeen years since its founding, the network has grown to 133 K-12 schools in twenty-three states and Australia. Innovative Schools has established partnerships with schools like Delaware New Tech Academy in Seaford and First State Military Academy in Clayton, to help bring the first New Tech Network model schools to Delaware. Learn More About New Tech

But the bigger problem has to do with special education.  When FSMA opened they received forty students with disabilities.  As a new school and students that transferred, the school has to redo all those IEPs.  They have one dual-certified teacher to handle all forty of these students on top of being the one to handle all these IEPs.  And here is the kicker- they have to be completed by October 30th.  In five days!  What is it with these charter schools that don’t anticipate large populations of special needs students?  The state average is 13% and rising.  Like Delaware Met, they didn’t count on this at all.  It comes with the package, and the State Board of Education, the Charter School Office and the Exceptional Children Resources Group should be making sure all new charters have their ducks in a row with this kind of thing.

With this revelation coming out, I feel obligated to reveal a story I wrote about FSMA in the summer, but I never named the school.  Yes, this was the school that had a special education coordinator that pretended to be on the IEP Task Force last year.  This coordinator quit before school started.  I wonder why?

As well, I’m hearing several students are having a VERY difficult time with the curriculum at this school.  Some are failing.  While these issues aren’t at the level Delaware Met is having, I would say they are very serious.  Time to add another one to the pile Delaware DOE?

Innovative Schools Has Not Been So Innovative With Delaware Met

Innovative Schools does many different things as a charter management organization.  For the Delaware Met, they do Human Resources, Academic, Facilities, Financial, Management Consulting, Operations, and School Models (Big Picture Learning).  For these services, Delaware Met has paid Innovative Schools around $380,000.00 just in FY 2015 alone.  At most charters, this work is handled by 2-3 people: the school leader, a principal, and a business manager.  So what does this say about Innovative Schools and the developments at Delaware Met?

Other schools Innovative Schools has been involved in with in a financial capacity are Academy of Dover, Delaware College Prep, Delaware Military Academy, Family Foundations Academy and Providence Creek Academy.  What do all these charters have in common?  Investigations by the State Auditor’s office for financial abuse, usually with procurement cards.  If Innovative Schools is keeping track of the finances at these schools, how is it all five of them have had individuals abusing finances for their own personal use in some way?  Two of the schools they handled finances for where shut down: Moyer and Reach.  I truly believe the DOE and the State Auditor’s office may want to take a very strong look at Innovative Schools and what role they have played in Delaware charter schools.

For Delaware Met, it seems more and more like Innovative Schools is running the board, not the other way around the way it should be.  Don’t be fooled, Innovative Schools is making all of the decisions.  We can’t just blame Delaware Met, Innovative Schools has played an even bigger role in the failure of this charter that just opened two months ago.  Why is there no School Resource Officer in the school even though it is budgeted in to their 2016 budget?  That could solve a lot of the issues there.  What is Innovative Schools doing?  It seems as if they are holding the school hostage and limiting what they can do.  If the school needs them, Innovative Schools makes more money, pure and simple.

Delaware DOE Responds To Current Discipline Issues At Delaware Met

Yesterday, I wrote an article about some very concerning events at Delaware Met.  I emailed the Delaware Department of Education about these concerns, along with legislators, Governor Markell, and Attorney General Matt Denn.  State Rep. Paul Baumbach asked the DOE to look at the amount of in-school suspensions as well to which Deputy Secretary of Education David Blowman responded today:


From: Blowman David <david.blowman@DOE.K12.DE.US>
To:
Baumbach Paul <paul.baumbach@state.de.us>; Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
Cc:
Nagourney Jennifer <Jennifer.Nagourney@doe.k12.de.us>; Godowsky Steven <Steven.Godowsky@doe.k12.de.us>; Markell Jack <jack.markell@state.de.us>; O’Mara Lindsay <lindsay.omara@state.de.us>; Denn Matthew <matthew.denn@state.de.us>; Williams Kimberly <kimberly.williams@state.de.us>; Kowalko John <john.kowalko@state.de.us>; Matthews Sean <sean.matthews@state.de.us>; Gray Teri <teri.gray@sbe.k12.de.us>; Haberstroh Susan Keene <susan.haberstroh@doe.k12.de.us>; Young Shana <Shana.Young@doe.k12.de.us>; Carwell John <john.carwell@doe.k12.de.us>; Whalen Michelle <Michelle.Whalen@doe.k12.de.us>
Sent:
Friday, October 23, 2015 2:32 PM
Subject:
RE: Delaware Met

Representative Baumbach,

DOE staff visited Delaware Met yesterday afternoon to investigate the alleged violations of students rights.  Below is a summary of their observations relative to the specific allegations reported by Mr. Ohlandt:

  • Hiring prison guards – The school has hired four new support staff to help address the school’s climate issues.  They began working at the school on Monday. Two of these individuals have backgrounds in juvenile corrections and currently serve a number of Delaware Met students in external community based programs. 
  • Multiple suspensions – It appears that the school is attempting to be more consistent with holding students accountable to the code of conduct which might explain a spike in suspensions. The exact number of suspensions will be verified.
  • Inappropriate student confinements – There was no evidence of inappropriate student confinements. DDOE staff observed the In School Suspension (ISS) room.   There were 2-3 students in the room. 

DOE will continue to monitor the school and investigate potential violations of the school’s charter through the formal review process. 

Many thanks, David



My biggest concern is how special education and IEPs are being implemented with fidelity at Delaware Met.  And as I wrote earlier today, there seems to be confusion with their Code of Conduct, discipline efforts, and their Restorative Justice approach.  In essence, I’m sure there is a lot we aren’t being told about what the exact nature is of the offenses students are committing that warrant suspension.  From what I am hearing from Blowman, the school may be administering a type of zero-tolerance program in an attempt to instill order in the school.  I do not think that is viable solution, nor is it a positive long-term action.  It takes more students out of the classroom and away from education.  I have not seen anything coming from this school to indicate they are making the best decisions or even know how to.  But can parents of suspended students afford to wait until the State Board of Education makes a decision in mid-December?  And even then, if they ultimately wind up deciding to revoke the school’s charter, it would not be until the end of the school year.  How much damage can happen until then?

As well, I have heard numerous references to “gang-related” activity, both from third parties and the DOE’s own Formal Review notification letter.  I don’t believe the DOE is equipped as a state agency to handle that type of thing and it may take the Delaware Attorney General’s office getting involved to gage what is truly going on with that aspect of events.

I also have to wonder how well the staff is at dealing with these types of matters.  From what I am hearing, the bulk of the teachers are new.  Do they have the necessary training and development to be able to deal with defiance from students?  Does the administration?  And for that matter, who is running the school?  Is it Sean Gallagher who already has a full-time role as the Executive Director of Leadership at Innovative Schools for the Delaware Leadership Project?  Or is it his intern who Gallagher stated at their 9/28 board meeting would run the “day-to-day” details of the school?  And why has no one questioned the apparent conflict of interest with being paid by both Innovative Schools and the school that makes payments to Innovative Schools?

This culture of silence emanating from the school and their lack of transparency is highly troubling.  Two board members left (which are not changed on their web site), no staff are listed on their website, and no board minutes have been released since their 9/23 meeting even though they have had three board meetings since then (their “special board meetings” on 9/28 and 10/12 and their regular monthly board meeting on 10/21).  We don’t know what their current student enrollment is or even how many students have been suspended in the two months since the school opened.  I’m sure answers will come at the November 4th meeting of the Charter School Accountability Committee meeting for Delaware Met’s formal review, but that may be little comfort to students and their parents who want answers now.

Are There Human Rights Violations Going On At Delaware Met? Parents Need To Speak Up NOW!!!!

I received an anonymous message this morning concerning Delaware Met.  We may be entering a new level of abuse inflicted by this school on their students.  As if everything already happening isn’t bad enough, I am now hearing about issues concerning the school hiring prison guards to “control kids”, multiple suspensions, and issues with confinement.  While these allegations have not been vetted, it follows the alarming trends with this school.  To that effect, I emailed the DOE, Governor Markell, Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn, and some legislators in regards to this.  I also called the Delaware DOE about this and left a message.  I did receive a return call just minutes ago from them and I advised the Charter School Office of the information conveyed to me.  Someone needs to do the right thing and get in there and shut this place down.  There are many students with disabilities in this school and not following, implementing, or creating an IEP for them is a recipe for disaster.  Below is the email I sent out not long ago:

From: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
To:
Nagourney Jennifer <jennifer.nagourney@doe.k12.de.us>; Blowman David (K12) <david.blowman@doe.k12.de.us>; Godowsky Steven <steven.godowsky@doe.k12.de.us>; Markell Jack <jack.markell@state.de.us>; O’Mara Lindsay (Governor) <lindsay.omara@state.de.us>; Denn Matthew (DOJ) <matthew.denn@state.de.us>
Cc:
Williams Kimberly (LegHall) <kimberly.williams@state.de.us>; Kowalko John (LegHall) <john.kowalko@state.de.us>; Baumbach Paul (LegHall) <paul.baumbach@state.de.us>; Sean Matthews <sean.matthews@state.de.us>; Gray Teri (K12) <teri.gray@sbe.k12.de.us>
Sent:
Thursday, October 22, 2015 10:54 AM
Subject:
Delaware Met

Good morning all,
I received an anonymous and very troubling message this morning concerning the Delaware Met.  As I’m sure you all know, this school is under formal review.  But if this message is true, there could be human rights violations going on at this school, in current time.  I know most of us don’t see eye to eye on education policies, but I’m sure we can all agree that no student in Delaware should have any rights violated whatsoever. 
The message I received concerns many of the items already covered in Del Met’s formal review letter, but also issues concerning the hiring of prison guards, multiple suspensions and issues of “confinement”.  The last of these concerns me greatly.  Many of these students may have IEPs and Federal and State law clearly indicates matters of punishment for students with disabilities.  Confinement sounds very serious, and I fear for these students safety. 
I’m not sure who has to get in there, but something needs to be done.  This school is out of control and something beyond a formal review needs to take place immediately if these types of things are going on.
Thank you for your time, and I appreciate any response to this very disturbing situation.
Respectfully,
Kevin Ohlandt
I strongly urge parents of students in this school to go public with what they know.  Do not let this school intimidate you or your child.  If what I am hearing is true, I would highly recommend you do not send your child to this school.  Let the cards fall where they may, but if it is a matter of safety and human rights, please do the right thing for your child.  This is a wake-up call for all of us in Delaware, and I am letting you know I care about your kids.  I have never issued a message like this before, but look out for your kids.  I strongly commend the DOE for doing the right thing with putting this school on formal review, but this has now become a matter beyond them if these events are occurring.  We need to keep our children safe, first and foremost.
Who is actually running this school? Is it Innovative Schools? The Delaware Leadership Executive Director who stated he would farm out the “day-to-day” operations to an intern?  What is going on inside this place?
To that end, parents need to name names and let those with the ability to do something operate out of full transparency so they can get in there.  Schools need to be a safe haven for children, but this sounds more like prison conditions.  I won’t deny there are probably some bad behaviors going on with some teenagers in this school, but if the school is unable to adequately deal with this than the center will not hold.  I heard from another parent of severe bullying going on at this school and the administration not dealing with this properly.  Something needs to be done…NOW!!!!
UPDATED, 12:10pm: This developing situation is being looked at very seriously by the Delaware Department of Education.  As well, I am being told there are two rival gangs within this school and this seems to be the heart of the issues.  Someone is going to get killed in this school if something doesn’t change immediately.  We need all hands on deck here, and parents should be very concerned.  I am begging the school: If you cannot handle this, do not hide.  Don’t think you can wave a magical wand and fix this.  If it is beyond your ability to control, please, just shut it down.  The Delaware Met is not an alternative school.  You do not have the necessary supports to handle those students.  Do the right thing.

What Happened To Innovative Schools Operations Manager At Delaware Met?

It seems Jemeul Anderson is no longer the Operations Manager for The Delaware Met.  This role is through Innovative Schools.  As announced last night, The Delaware Met is up for formal review consideration at the Delaware State Board of Education meeting tomorrow.  According to Join Delaware Schools, a job posting went up yesterday for an Operations Manager at The Delaware Met.  Just click on all jobs, go to administrative, and then look at the last entry, posted 10/13/15.  Innovative School’s website still has Anderson listed as the operations manager for the school.

The tension concerning this school is way past the boiling point.  With Anderson already gone, who is overseeing the management and operations of this school?  The rumors coming out of this school are getting more bizarre by the day.  Delaware State Rep Kim Williams reported on Delaware First State about a letter coming from the school on September 29th concerning a student leaving, but they are now saying the student can’t leave because it was after the September 30th count.  I will continue to pray for these students…

On Monday evening, founding board members Adriane Anderson-Strange and Jillian Wattley resigned from the Delaware Met board.

Updated 12/16/15: The above crossed out part did not happen, I was given erroneous information.

Mapleton Charter School A No-Show At Their Own Major Modification Meeting Today

When you submit a major modification to the Delaware DOE, you would think you would have the good sense to show up at your own Charter School Accountability Committee meeting to present your case.  This was not the case for Mapleton Charter School of Whitehall.  They sent an Innovative Schools representative to read a brief statement.  The rep asked for a continuance which the CSAC granted.

Last month, Mapleton submitted an application for a Major Modification to change their name to Discovery Charter School and move their school location to Dover.  They had a huge application for the modification, and over the summer they had a very large and extensive community survey they sent to numerous residents, churches and organizations in the area where they want to move.  Why in the world they would drop the ball and not show up to one of the most important meetings for their cause is beyond me.

It seems to me like charters are relying on Innovative Schools to run everything.  Innovative Schools is just a management organization.  They are NOT the actual school.  This school knew about this meeting for weeks.  I would have not granted a continuance to them.

Delaware Met Is Having Another “Special” Board Meeting Tonight

The Delaware Met is having a “special” board meeting tonight to discuss further issues with the school.  Who knows what this meeting will bring.  Two weeks ago, the board decided to keep the school open after serious discussion about whether they should stay open or not.  The DOE could put the school on formal review.  We should get some indication of this on Thursday at the State Board of Education meeting in Dover.  What makes this meeting interesting is the timing.  The Delaware Charter School Office has their hands full at 5pm this evening with a Public Hearing for four charter schools.  Campus Community, MOT Charter School and Providence Creek Academy are all going through their charter renewal while Mapleton Charter School of Whitehall put in a major modification to change their name to Discovery Charter School with a move to Dover.

Meanwhile, here’s the agenda:

The Delaware Met High School

Special Meeting Agenda

October 12, 2015

920 French Street

5:30 PM

 

  • Welcome
  • Financial Update
  • School Leader Report – Sean Gallagher & Jacqueline Adam-Taylor
  1.  
  • EMO Report In – Innovative Schools
  1.  
  • Public Comment

Innovative Schools Bold Plans For Education In Delaware

Innovative Schools started as a charter school management organization, but they are trying to get bigger.  They have already infiltrated Seaford School District with their Delaware New Tech Academy, and they have plans to get even bigger by 2020.  In the application for Delaware STEM Academy (opening next fall), Innovative Schools comes right out and says what these plans are.

Innovative Schools Plans

All of these “partnerships”, like this Alliance of Model Schools, and the BrINC program run by four school districts, is it for the students or a way to solidify those in power?  Do we really need charter schools within actual school districts like Seaford is doing?  Sorry Innovative Schools, this is just more Rodel inspired Vision.  I think we are all getting a bit sick of all this because we have yet to see the results of all these partnerships…

With NO charters set to open past Mapleton (whatever happens with their change to Discovery and their move to Dover) and Delaware STEM Academy next fall, and a one to two year turnaround for charter application, how is this going to happen?  Does this mean we should expect a flood of charter applications coming in to the Delaware DOE in the next few months?  Where are we going to put all these new charters?  Wilmington is stacked to the brim.  Dover is starting to get a bit crowded especially if Mapleton/Discovery gets their major modification approved.  I can picture a drive to get more charters into Sussex County.  Doesn’t mean I agree with it, but I can see it happening…

Rodel’s Paul Herdman Made Over $343,000…And Our Children Lose More Education Everyday

This article will disgust you.  It disgusted me when I read their latest tax form, filed in July of this year.  The Rodel Foundation and all their education propaganda.  I have a new take on this.  We need to boycott anything associated with Rodel.  That means the Vision Coalition, the Delaware Business Roundtable, and yes, I’m going to go there.  The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission.  Why?  Because after the Budingers, who owned Rodel Inc. back in the day, Tony Allen is listed on the board of Rodel.  Dan Rich, the University of Delaware employee who is involved in all things WEIC, also sits very comfortably on the board of the Vision Coalition.

$343,000 a year.  For one man.  That is twice what Mark Murphy made as Secretary of Education.  It’s $126,000 more than the highest paid State of Delaware employee in education (who just so happens to be enjoying his obsession with the Vision Coalition these days).  How many starting teachers could we get with that?  Ten?  How about we take his salary and give every student in Delaware an extra $100 in funding.  I know, they are a “non-profit” company.  Of course they are.  How could they ever make a profit with just over $900,000 going to four people’s salary?

So who benefited from Rodel’s “expertise” in education on this tax form?

Parthenon Group: $700,000 (listed as consultants Rodel pays to do consulting work)

Aspen Institute: $175,000

Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee $53,600

Delaware Charter Schools Network $30,000

Delaware Public Policy Institute $50,000

First State Military Academy $75,000

Great Oaks Foundation $75,000

Hope Street Group $10,000

Innovative Network For Communities $7,500

Innovative Schools Development Corporation $741,688

Latin American Community Center $15,000

Leadership Delaware Inc. $10,000

Music Associates of Aspen Inc. $30,000

National Public Education Support Fund $10,000

New Castle County Vo-Tech School District $13,451

Sustainable Settings $7,500

Teach For America Inc. $100,300

Teach Plus Inc. $7,500

The Delaware Met $75,000

The Partnership Inc. $7,500

Third Way Foundation $10,000

Vision Network $95,000

The ones in bold are the ones that really stand out for me.  That is an awful lot of money going to Innovative Schools.  But what puzzles me the most is the New Castle County Vo-Tech School District.  Looking back at their prior year tax forms, they have frequently given money to that district or schools within the district.

In terms of hedge fund activity, this tax form does NOT have the Rodel-Pebbles AA Multi-Strategy Hedge Fund, which I wrote in great detail about last year.  In that article, for their Tax Form 990, the amount in the fund was $158,071.  For the other two hedge funds they invest in, Hirtle Multi-Strategy Hedge Funds and Hirtle- Private Equity Funds, those amounts were $2,590,421 and $1,725,911.  A year later, those amounts are $2,710,070 and $1,636,033.  So if they cashed out the Rodel-Pebbles Hedge Fund, it looks like they invested $30,000 more in hedge funds for this tax year.  Like last year, their hedge fund activity is in “off-shore accounts” in the Caribbean or Central America.  For this tax year they invested over $6.9 million in these off-shore accounts, an increase of $2.9 million more than in their tax form filed last year.  Their net assets by the end of the year were $27,700,235 which was an almost $1 million dollar loss compared to the previous year, in which their assets went down $1.45 million compared to the year before.  Yet Dr. Herdman’s salary keeps going up each year because they do a “survey” to see how other similar non-profits pay their CEOs.  This is corporate education reform.  Where traditional public schools lose money each year while the 1% get infinitely richer.  And our state allows this by continuing this charade.

Now when Dr. Paul Herdman first started with The Rodel Foundation of Delaware back at the end of 2004, he was making a little over $168,000 a year with benefits and travel expenses.  Now that has mushroomed to $343,000.  A $175,000 increase.  And this is for their 2013 tax year!  I’m sure it is even more now.

Delaware, this is Rodel.  A company that is a non-profit that invests in off-shore hedge funds and their CEO receives more income than anyone in education in Delaware.  Remember, they sell a product, like any company does.  The product is designed to make them rich.  It’s a business.  They could care less how your individual child is doing.  They care about their bottom line.  So every time you go to the latest annual Vision party, every time you let them take your personal information so you can go to one of their events, or you attend an Imagine Delaware Forum on education that they sponsor, remember it is a big advertisement.  Rodel owns Delaware.  They own the Governor, they own the DOE, they own the Delaware Charter School Network, Innovative Schools, and it looks like the two main people on the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission.

If Rodel really cared about education in Delaware, they would be donating money to the school districts that need funds the most, to help out with classroom sizes.  This is a company that has $27 million in assets.  And it sits there, every year, going through investments and hedge funds and even though it slowly loses a little bit each year, it’s not enough.  I don’t see Rodel donating funds to Red Clay or Christina.  I see a hell of a lot of charter schools, and companies that support them.  And that one school district where a certain Interim Secretary of Education comes from.  Where a soon to be ex-US Secretary of Education visited one of the “most improved” high schools in the state twice which just happens to be in the same district.

When Rodel offers these “grants” to charters, think tanks, and charter friendly organizations, it isn’t out of the kindness of their heart.  It is an investment.  It is saying, if the amount is high enough, we now own you.  Do as we say.  Don’t rock the boat.  Oppose all legislation we don’t like.  We know Rodel and the Delaware Charter Schools Network are two of the biggest lobbyists in Delaware.  It’s not for the kids.  It’s for money.  So Paul Herdman can get an increase in his salary every year.  Don’t get me wrong, he works hard.  Destroying public education doesn’t happen overnight.  It happens over a long period of time, and he has been very proficient at it for over ten years now.

Boycott Rodel.  These are the things I would like to see happen.  DSEA and Delaware PTA get the hell out of anything Rodel/Vision Coalition related.  Tony Allen resigns from the Rodel board.  Dan Rich resigns from Vision.  The Delaware Department of Education immediately ends any contracts with Rodel that are not listed for public viewing.  They end any business relationship with Rodel.  For citizens of Delaware, please do not support this organization.  They have been selling a line of crap for over ten years and it needs to stop.  The only way to do that is to stop listening.  Do not legitimize their money-making agendas.  If they put an ad in the paper or a letter to the editor, write a complaint to the News Journal.  If you are worried about the Delaware Business Roundtable and how that could effect Delaware, don’t worry, Rodel does the books for their Education Committee.

If the leaders of organizations who work with Rodel and the Vision Coalition don’t want to leave, that’s okay.  Elections can change that with certain organizations.  And do not buy for one second that “Personalized Learning” is the wave of the future.  That’s what Rodel wants you to think.  Back in 2006, they predicted state standards and tests designed around those.  They envisioned a future, with the able assistance of then Treasurer of Delaware Jack Markell, where all children would be able to compete with their brethren in China and Japan and India and Singapore.  Millions upon millions of dollars filling the pockets of folks like Dr. Paul Herdman and Fred Sears III.  For what?  Have we learned nothing?

This article is going to tick off a lot of people.  Good.  It wasn’t meant to put a smile on anyone’s face.  It was meant to piss off those who would sacrifice our children’s future so companies like Rodel can live high off the hog.  You know exactly who you are, and the charade has to end.  Either you support public education or you don’t.  There is no middle ground.  Not anymore.

For the average citizen, remember this.  You hold immense power in your hands and voice.  Your hands can write a Refuse The Test letter.  Your voice can tell other parents to do the same.  Paul Herdman was scared out of his mind with the opt-out movement.  He had no idea how much power he does not have over people.  This is why he spoke at the Senate Education Committee meeting against House Bill 50, the parent opt-out legislation.  He knows that if parents don’t let their kids take the Smarter Balanced Assessment, his empire falls apart.  Very fast.  Let’s do it.  Let’s say screw the CEO and take back education.  Because if you think for one second it is your child’s education, you are dead wrong.  This is Rodel’s education, sold to them with your taxpayer money and the more than willing voice of your Governor.

Did you think I was done with Delaware Met?

Yesterday, the DOE released their Take Note newsletter.  In the middle of it was a section about CIP grants awarded to 14 different schools, both district and charter.  The grants were for “innovative induction models”.  Would you like to take a wild guess who got $6,000 from this grant?  None other than Delaware Met!  I guess they can write a good application, or did Innovative Schools write it?  It’s getting very hard to tell the difference anymore.  But you can be damn sure Innovative Schools wants a cut out of everything the school does!

Answers On Delaware Met Reveal More Questions

Today, on Town Square Delaware, members of The Delaware Met Board of Directors broke the public veil of silence and spoke out on the issues surrounding the school.  Based on this information and other information that has been sent my way, I have put a picture together of the events that happened last week at the embattled charter school

On Monday, a squirrel got into a transformer causing the power to go out at the school.  As a result, there was no school on 9/21.  On Tuesday, the students returned to school.  Where it gets a bit hazy is what happened next.  But what is certain there was no school from 9/23 to 9/25 due to emergency professional development for the teachers:

With the blessing of the Department of Education, we chose to give our teachers professional development time last week to assess these needs and make adjustment.

I believe the school, based on discussion from their Monday night board meeting, did attempt to reach out to parents to let them know about these unforeseen days off which were not on their website calendar.  On Wednesday 9/23, based on their agenda for their 9/28 meeting, the Board met in a Special Board meeting.  There was no agenda on their website, so it is difficult to surmise what was discussed at this board meeting.  On Friday, shortly before noon, I received two emails indicating the school was closing the next week due to violence, gang activity, fighting and Innovative Schools, the school’s management organization, severing ties.  I emailed the DOE and the school immediately for any type of confirmation.  To date, no one responded to any of my emails.  The school has this information, and chose to ignore me completely.

At the same time, we began to be made aware of whispers in our community and beyond that the school had already chosen to close. To answer these rumors, it was important for the Board to hold a special meeting.

This would have been the second special board meeting, so what was the reason for the first?  I knew of Delaware Met, but up until Friday I had never heard a peep about this school aside from an occasional article here and there.  The only time I wrote about them on here was for their performance award application and their award of $175,000.00.  The school had and still has every opportunity to contact me, and they know how to.  Back to Friday, a few other sources confirmed the earlier email I received.  To be honest, I thought the email was a joke, or someone trying to give me false information, which happens more than you think as a blogger.  I’m sure mainstream reporters can attest to this as well.  Other sources confirmed this information, except for one part: the part about Innovative Schools cutting ties with the school.  For someone to send that to me, it would have to be someone with inside information.  Since other sources were already vetting all the other information, I knew this story had legs so I published it.  While the DOE and I are battling on several issues, I sincerely reached out to them and the school.

Over the weekend, I did an extensive amount of research on the school, their student population, their application with the DOE, their finances, how they acquired the property at 920 N. French St, and other material on the property kept popping up as I was looking.  As I collected the information, it provided a wealth of articles.  In the meantime, the school put up their notice of the second special board meeting at some point over the weekend which I saw Sunday night.  As well, they put an announcement up on their Facebook page about an important announcement the next day and they hoped everyone would be there.  I’m not sure what their announcement was, but I responded to their post and addressed what I heard point blank.  To date, no one responded to my public plea for information.

On Monday, I focused on the history of the property.  Meanwhile, the school was giving information to the News Journal and alleging that the “rumors” were causing more harm than help.  Rumors which they knew came from this blog, they had my email address, they could have responded on Facebook, or even commented on the many articles that went up over four days.  Meanwhile, thousands of Delawareans were reading what I wrote with complete silence from the school aside from cryptic Facebook messages and even more cryptic board agenda announcements where they announced they were going to vote if they should keep their charter.  Without a charter, there is no school. No school would ever put up a notice like that over “rumors”.

On Monday evening, the board voted to keep the school open.  There was a great deal of discussion concerning enrollment, best practices for the teachers, financial viability, and school culture.  Many members of the community attended this board meeting that would not have normally if the “rumors” had not surfaced.  Serious questions arose out of this board meeting and deep concerns about the school’s ability to service and educate a very high population of special needs students.  Many of the teachers are not seasoned, and the school had (at that point) two special education teachers with a population of 60 IEPs, and more projected.  Legislators, reporters, and citizens attended this board meeting, and the bulk of them left feeling very perplexed at the administration of this school.

I’m not sure if Delaware charter schools have received a “don’t respond to the blogger” email.  But more often than not, no one from the charters respond after an inquiry before I publish or after I publish based on information that is already in the public domain.  I am open to communication.  If you disagree with something or find my information is not factual, please reach out to me.  I have fixed information based on a different perception or not being able to find information many times.  Most reporters have.  I don’t consider myself a “journalist” per se, but I do devote quite a bit of free time looking for answers and I write based on what I found.  I also offer my opinion which sets me apart from the typical newspaper or television reporter.

Yes, I had a bad response with a charter once upon a time.  Yes, I don’t like the idea of unelected boards.  No, I don’t hate charters.  I hate what many of the adults do at charters.  I get charter parents going ballistic on me cause I dare to write about “their” school.  If they want to give me facts, I am up for that.  But one commenter seemed offended that I dared to question what she wrote.  It’s a free world.  And while I respect anonymity, understand that I have no idea who you are.  I don’t know if you are the school, the DOE, or a parent.  I was taught by a college professor that they key to life is not in the answers, but in the questions.  I will always ask the questions based on the facts that are presented to me or that I find.

With that being said, these are my biggest questions concerning The Delaware Met AND the property:

  1. When did the school know they had a large population of special needs students coming and what did they do to prepare for it?
  2. Who is their special education coordinator?
  3. Why do they have no financial information on their website?
  4. What does Innovative Schools do for $380,000 in two plus years?
  5. Why did Innovative Schools pay $1 million to the Charter School Development Corporation who in turn bought 920 N. French St from the State of Delaware for an undisclosed and not in the public domain amount?
  6. Why does The Delaware Met need Innovative Schools?
  7. Why does one of their board members allow the school to pay the company he is a chair of?
  8. Why does another board member work for the same company that handles the school’s finances?
  9. Did the school reach out to other charters or districts for help with their student population?
  10. Did a student bring a gun to the school on the very first day?
  11. What was the purpose of the board’s special board meeting on 9/23?
  12. What was the big announcement revealed to students on Monday 9/28?
  13. How is a student with an IEP accommodated while at an internship?
  14. Does any member of the board benefit in any way from an internship by a student?
  15. Has the school considered hiring a School Resource Officer?
  16. Where is their student handbook?
  17. What is their enrollment as of 11:59pm this evening, including basic, moderate, complex and intensive subgroups for their large special education population?
  18. Are their teachers adequately trained to determine what is behavior and what may be a manifestation of a student’s disability?
  19. Do they have the staff to complete IEP meetings since so many of the IEPs may need to be relooked at based on their curriculum?
  20. How much did the State of Delaware sell 920 N. French St. to Charter School Development Corporation and why is this not on any public website?
  21. Where did the State of Delaware put this revenue?
  22. Is there any immediate danger to staff or students at the school due to its Brownfield Site designation?
  23. What was the nature of the work Duffield Associates did for the school last year?
  24. What is the DOE’s duty to ensure new charter schools are ready from day one to run a school?
  25. What are the DOE’s next steps in terms of this school?

While I understand the school can’t answer all these questions, I welcome Innovative Schools or the State of Delaware to answer them as well if it applies to them.  You may not feel like you have to answer them, but I’m like a dog without a bone sometimes…

News Journal Jumps On The Delaware Met Story

Matthew Albright with the Delaware News Journal finally jumped on the Delaware Met story three days after this blog broke the news about it’s pending closure.  The article does not state the school is closing because the board is meeting tonight to decide if they should hand in their charter.  I would fully expect a mainstream media source to take this route.  However, I do take offense to this part:

Rumors circulated through the weekend that Delaware Met had already made the decision to close. Students did not attend school Friday – Harrington said the school scheduled professional development for teachers – but kids were back Monday.

“We’ve been trying to get the message out to parents that no decision has been made, but they keep hearing people saying it’s already happened,” Harrington said. “It isn’t helping.”

Why would Albright only contact the school about this?  There was no mention of the Delaware Department of Education who I’m sure would have been notified.  As well, he knew what the source of the “rumors” was and I never heard from him.  But he was up in Philly for the Papal Visit.  Mr. Harrington, you could have easily contacted me as well, but the school did not respond to my two emails on Friday.  Nor did the Department of Education.

Is this school a special education school?  Calling it a “Big Picture School” is not indicative of what has been going on there.

Second, the board will decide whether the school can get a handle on problems with school climate. Harrington said there have been fights and incidents in which students have been disrespectful towards school staff.

“We’re talking about kids acting out,” Harrington said. “Our board’s and leadership’s priority is making sure we can provide a safe environment for our students.”

Part of providing a safe environment for students is having a firm handle on student’s Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) prior to the start of school.  Being that there was no board meeting in August, I would really have to wonder how prepared this school was for opening day.  I do have a lot of respect for Ed Emmett from Positive Outcomes, and he could be a valuable source for helping the school understand special education issues.  But I think their financial issues may be beyond just an enrollment issue.  How much are they paying to Innovative Schools for rent?  Since they have NO financial information on their website (which they are required to do monthly as per Delaware law), how could anyone ascertain what their financial picture is?

I also have to question the role Innovative Schools plays in Delaware education.  Their name has been attached to far too many charters that close or have huge financial issues at some point.  Is it time to reel them in for a serious investigation?  And of course Kendall Massett with the Delaware Charter Schools Network is riding in for the rescue.  But is it too late?  Given everything I have written about this school in the past few days I would be very concerned as a parent of a teenager attending this school.  Conflicts of Interest are as transparent as Saran Wrap and this school has red flags all over it.

Is There Toxic Ground At The Delaware Met Or Just A Huge Conflict Of Interest?

The address of 920 N. French St. in Wilmington, DE is listed as a “Brownfield Site”.  This is also the home of the Delaware Met.  What is a Brownfield Site? The Environmental Protection Agency defines a Brownfield Site as:

With certain legal exclusions and additions, the term “brownfield site” means real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.

On September 11th, 2002, 920 N. French St. was designated a Brownfield Site by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources (DNREC).  In the below report, a plan was put forth and finalized in order to clean up the site to allow for commercial development of the property.  Duffield Associates was the company that formulated the plan to clean up the site and remove any contaminants from the soil.

Not long after, MBNA bought the property.  When MBNA was bought by Bank Of America, the company soon sold their former employee training center to the State of Delaware for $6.5 million dollars.  The State of Delaware bought the property on October 12, 2007.  However, the appropriation allowing for the purchase of this building was not approved until the 144th General Assembly on July 1st, 2008, as part of House Bill 525.

Section 31. State Employee Workforce, Education and Training Center. The Section 1 Addendum

14 to this Act contains an appropriation of $6,500,000 for the State Employee Workforce, Education and

15 Training Center, currently owned by the Bank of America. These certain tracts of land are located in the

16 vicinity of 920 N. French Street in the City of Wilmington, New Castle County, and the State of Delaware,

17 being known as New Castle County Tax Parcel numbers 2603520172, 2603520255, 2603520185,

18 2603520190 and 2603520195. For the acquisition of this property, the real property procurement

19 procedures in 29 Del. C. §9505 shall not apply.

For the entire time the State of Delaware owned the building, the property was vacant.  Why would a State purchase a property and never use it?  In March of 2014, the State of Delaware issued a public notice to any interested buyers of the property.  Both The Delaware Met and Freire Charter School were actively seeking the property, and eventually the property was sold to Charter School Development Corporation, under the official company name of CDSCPC 920 French LLC.  The address for this company is 6731 COLUMBIA GATEWAY DRIVE, SUITE 220, COLUMBIA, MD 21046.  But Charter School Development Corporation is a non-profit company based out of Arizona.  The sale occurred on November 14th, 2014, which set into motion a great deal of controversy for Freire Charter School of Wilmington and the Midtown Brandywine Neighborhood Association when Freire was forced to find a new location for their school.  There is no public record of how much the State of Delaware sold the building to Charter School Development Corporation.  In Fiscal Year 2012, Innovative Schools donated $1 million dollars to Charter School Development Corporation.  In FY2014, the company bought 920 N. French St. and leased it to Innovative Schools who is subleasing the property to The Delaware Met.

In Fiscal Year 2015, the Delaware Met paid a considerable sum of money to Duffield & Associates to do work at the property, the very same company that was contracted in 2002 to clean up the soil at the site.  From the Delaware Online Checkbook:

DelmetDuff

All told, Delaware Met paid Duffield Associates $37,654.83 in a seven month period.  On The Delaware Met’s original application, Jeff Bross is listed as the Chairman of Duffield Associates and was also listed as a board member of Delaware Met.  Interestingly enough, while searching for information about Delaware Met and Duffield, this link came up: http://dedoe.schoolwires.net/Errors/AccessDenied.aspx with a message stating the page was inactive or protected and to contact Alison May at the Delaware DOE if you don’t have an account or have any questions.  Jeff Bross is still listed as a Board Member at Delaware Met and is still the Chairman of Duffield Associates.  2014 was a busy year for Duffield and Bross as they were also contracted to help with the I-495 Bridge Debacle.  So is there a clear conflict of interest with having the Chair of Duffield on the Board at the school while also hiring his company to do an extensive amount of work?  Duffield’s expertise seems to be in fixing structural issues at sites where there could be large problems.  What was the problem with 920 N. French St.?  In the school’s only board minutes posted on their website from October 8th, 2014 there is no mention of pending work with Duffield Associates or a vote to retain their services.  Bross attended the meeting.  As well, another board member named Richelle Talbert sits on the board at Delaware Met and is also an employee of the school’s charter management organization, Innovative Schools.  Surely that is a conflict of interest as well.

These are questions that need to be asked by our legislators and the Delaware Department of Education in determining what in the world happened with this charter school.

The Funky Real Estate Deals For 920 N. French St., Home of Delaware Met

Last March, Larry Nagengast with WDDE wrote a very good article on Innovative Schools.  It is no longer on the WDDE website, but a pdf of it is floating around on the internet.  In this article, which delved into many things with Innovative Schools, Nagengast wrote:

But Delaware Met, like many charters, did not have the funds to purchase the building outright.

According to Swanson and Childs, Innovative Schools approached the Charter Schools Development Corporation (CSDC), a nonprofit based in the Washington, D.C., area that finance and develops charter school sites and had an interest in entering the Delaware market. Innovative Schools contributed $1 million to CSDC, which then purchased the building from the state. (The actual purchase price was not given on New Castle County property records.) CSDC is leasing the building back to Innovative Schools, which is subleasing it to Delaware Met.

The leasing arrangement, Swanson says, provides a measure of protection for CSDC in the event Delaware Met does not succeed because Innovative Schools, as a charter manager, would be in a position to secure another school as a tenant to use the space.

The New Castle County property records shows it purchased the building from the state for $10.00.  But this website says that for all the sales of this building, so that can’t be correct.  Why would Innovative Schools “contribute” $1 million in 2012 to a company that then bought the building for Delaware Met, and then Innovative Schools subleases it to Delaware Met?  Looks like that leasing arrangement was a good idea for CSDC.  Too bad there is a moratorium on any new charters until 2017 or so.  This is going to be VERY interesting to watch.  More to come, and I’m pretty sure there may be some more mainstream coverage of this in the next day or two…  Meanwhile, I just hope all of this is not too toxic for these students who have been shuffled around Wilmington charters…

Delaware Met Paid $380,000 To Innovative Schools Over Two Years…For What?

Now that the Delaware Met is closing down a month after it opened them, many in Delaware are asking “what the hell happened?”  Don’t worry, I’m in that same group.  In all my time doing this, I never got a lead that turned into something solid within hours, much less a lead that announced the closure of a charter school that no  one seemed to be any the wiser about their difficulties.  But my big question surrounds their management organization: Innovative Schools.  What did Innovative Schools actually do that warranted them receiving $380,000 since July of 2013?  And why were there employees being paid since July 2013 as well when the school didn’t even open until two years later?

From July 2013 until March 2014, we see salaries going out twice a month ranging from $3,245.19 to $4,110.59 (only once for this one, ironically, 12 days before Christmas).  Then in March, it bumps up to around $5,400 a month, but then back down to $2,700 in June.  Who was getting paid these funds?  And for what?  Meanwhile, Innovative Schools had over $380,000.00 in 26 months on their tab.  That’s some serious coin for a charter that hadn’t even opened yet for the bulk of these funds!  The Delaware Met website, which hasn’t had any board minutes posted (and their only one) since October of 2014, shows 15 board members.  And under the section entitled “School Leader’s Blog”, someone named Tricia talks about how she accepted the position of Head of School in May, 2015.  And good luck finding any staff, they don’t exist on the website.  Now the DOE website shows the Head of School to be Patricia Hunter Crafton, so I have to assume that would be “Tricia”.  But when I emailed the DOE and The Delaware Met for information yesterday, I received an out of office email for Crafton indicating she was out on maternity leave until November.  Nash Childs is listed as the President of their Board, but no relation to Great Oaks Charter School leader Kia Childs.

So who was the Innovative Schools lead for The Delaware Met?  Innovative Schools website lists Jemuel Anderson as the Operations Manager for The Delaware Met.  Now some bell is going off telling me I’ve heard this name before…where…where…where…and then the bell rings!  He was one of the plaintiffs when Moyer tried suing the State of Delaware over Moyer’s closure.  But Jemuel Anderson’s charter school history goes back beyond even Moyer.  He was the topic of many comments over on Kilroy’s a few years ago with the “is he” or “isn’t he” argument going back and forth over whether he was qualified to be a teacher rep on the board based on his lack of certified credentials on DEEDs (the place to look if teachers are certified or not in Delaware).  To go from either a one-on-one para (with the same student) for two years at Pencader to an Operations Manager of The Delaware Met for Innovative Schools seems like a pretty good career jump!  Astronomical I would say!

I’m just going to take a stab in the dark here and ask the obvious.  Could there maybe be some financial issues going on with this school as well?  In which case, the date of their official closure will be very interesting to watch.  If it is after September 30th, what guarantee does the State of Delaware have to ask for that money back?  If it’s already out there that the school is closing, what would happen if every single student left before September 30th?  Would they get no funding which would then force them into bankruptcy?  And it seems like it doesn’t matter if Innovative Schools cut ties with the school.  You know they have to be going “Ka-ching! We got $380,000.00 from a school that was only open a month!  Thank you Delaware taxpayers!”

Meanwhile, more Delaware students that are bounced around from Delaware charter to charter to charter are the true victims in all of this.  A generation of lost charter school students lost in the even greater sea of lost Wilmington children who are lost in the vast ocean called proficiency gaps.

The Delaware Met Down For The Count A Month Into The School Year

Today, I got an email from someone about The Delaware Met closing next week.  Usually, I want to get more information on something like this, so I reached out to the Delaware Department of Education and the leaders at the school.  Not one response.  I put out some more feelers, and it looks like this story has some weight to it.  I don’t have specifics, but I’m hearing about multiple incidents of violence at the school, a student brought a gun to the school on the very first day, and students leaving the school in mass quantities.  The school just opened a month ago.

This school is being touted as a “Big Picture Learning School”, whatever that means.  But it looks like families aren’t buying it.  Is this a sign of things to come for Delaware charters?  I’ve heard that many of the new charters are not prepared for their students this year, despite what the DOE is saying.  I’ve heard of multiple special education issues going on at many charters this fall.

Back to The Delaware Met, I’m hearing their relationship with Innovative Schools has soured to the point of breaking.  This is not a situation where the DOE will be closing the school, but The Delaware Met will be voluntarily closing down.  Has that ever happened before in Delaware?  This is a charter school that met their enrollment figures last Spring when many other charters were struggling.  So what happened?  I’m hearing many of the students were at-risk students who were facing issues at other schools including potential expulsion and suspension issues.  I have no idea how many students at this school are students with disabilities.  But how prepared was the school to handle these issues?  If the allegations are true, not prepared at all.  It’s one thing to apply to open a charter and get through the DOE.  It is quite another to actually implement all the talk and ideas once the school opens.

The other night at the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission committee meeting on Charter-District Collaboration, a Red Clay principal actually advised the committee he is getting a lot of students transferring back to traditional schools from charter schools.  The charter movement in Delaware may be hitting the brakes folks.  Is the party over?  Between financial concerns, funding issues, transportation problems (more last year), special education, and Smarter Balanced results showing the most at-risk students in charters are no different than traditional schools, I think it is past time the Delaware DOE ended their love affair with the charter movement.

If the school were to voluntarily close next week, it would make sense because the school would receive funding based on their September 30th count.  Better to do it now than to wait until after they get funding…

Updated, 5:44pm: This story is gaining traction by the minute.  Multiple sources are confirming, but no official word from DOE or the school.  The only question is exactly when and how many students are actually left at the school….

Updated, 5:47pm: Other sources are telling me this school received a significant student population from Moyer, which was shut down by the state a year ago and closed it’s doors for good on June 30th, 2015.

Funding For Priority Schools Now “Short” Which Violates MOUs With Red Clay & Christina…Was This The Plan?

How about them apples?  Turns out the much ballyhooed funding for the Priority Schools initiative in Red Clay and Christina is not even going to be granted at the full amount now.  If I were a judge looking at this, I would definitely say that violates the whole Memorandum of Understanding each of the six schools had to sign.  The Red Clay and Christina boards signed those with the full intention the state would cough up the money.  So where did the promised money go?  Is this another one of those sneaky budget moves like the one Delaware Liberal just wrote about?

This news is coming from the Red Clay board meeting happening right now.  Board member Adriana Bohm just said the state should nullify the MOUs if the state can’t give the funds they promised.  I completely agree.  After all the angst and bullying and intimidation by both Governor Markell and the Delaware DOE, this is what it comes down to?  Should any of us be shocked?  I am awaiting final confirmation on how short the state is on these funds.

If I were any school designated a priority school in the future, I would never sign the MOU based on these shenanigans.  And somehow, the contract for the Priority Schools Instructional Executive contract is just showing as recently closed.  No bidders showing, and it’s not showing as not awarded either.  So which is it?  Or is this another case where the DOE can just pull contracts off this site and put them in the ether?

This is beginning to confirm my suspicion the whole priority school thing was a sham from the start.  It is my contention the whole thing was designed the get the whole redistricting of Wilmington going.  Because all the shouting that occurred from that announcement led right into the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee.  After the priority schools anger calmed down, the WEAC group came out with their recommendations, and voila, two bills passed by the House and Senate in a record amount of time.

Delaware gets dirtier by the day.  The amount of manipulation and lies told by our public “leaders” is deplorable and disgusting.  The secret meetings with Rodel, Mark Murphy and members of the Delaware Business Roundtable.  The things Governor Markell says a little bit too loud that others may overhear.  The whole Senator Sokola comment at the Senate Education Committee when he was rushing people through public comment on HB50 to get to SB122 (the redistricting bill for the State Board of Education to carve up Wilmington) when he said “Some people have been working on this for a couple years” when WEAC came out from an Executive Order in September 2014.  The whole budget bill and grant-in-aid shenanigans Delaware Liberal just wrote about.  The railroading of HB186 which would give financial accountability to charters while the state pours $3.8 million to them from the budget.

It is very obvious what is going on here, which I’ve said all along.  They want Wilmington to be a charter district.  When I say they, I mean the following: Governor Markell, Rodel, Delaware Charter Schools Network, Innovative Schools, Secretary of Education Mark Murphy, Tony Allen, the DOE, EastSide Charter, Dr. Lamont Browne, Laurissa Schutt with Teach For America, Senator David Sokola, State Rep. Earl Jaques.  The writing is on the wall for all of it.  You just have to connect the dots.  Look at all the “teacher evaluation” consortiums going on with the charters in Wilmington.  And now I’m hearing one of their assistant principals is going to another Wilmington school that was never a part of all this.  And the whole Family Foundations Academy takeover by EastSide never sat well with me.  It seemed all too convenient with everything else going on.  They are building their network now.  The Community Education Building will fill up pretty fast.  Just remember this: Red Clay has no high school in Wilmington.  And if they can do it there, the rest of Delaware better watch out.  Next stop will be Dover, and then down in Sussex, and they will spread out from there.

Now that the bills have passed for this redistricting plan, as well as the Committee to plan the whole thing, what happens now that they have royally pissed off the Red Clay board?  Red Clay is being used by these people, and I hope they have the gumption to fight these charter lovers.  And just wait until Christina finds out about this!  If the State of Delaware does nothing about this, perhaps it’s time the FBI comes in and does a full-scale investigation of ALL of this.

There is going to be a huge war brewing in Wilmington over education.  The priority schools was a skirmish.  Battle lines are being drawn as we speak.  Is this really what we need charter schools for?  To squeeze local districts out while they take over?  Don’t think that can happen?  I posted an article last December with information I got completely wrong.  But included in the article was a link written by the Philanthropy Roundtable.  I called all of this then: the ultimate goal.  Take a look, and even though some of the details are off, look at what’s happening.  I can now see why some from that side have been coddling me lately, to throw me off their scent.  Nice try, didn’t work.

The question now becomes this: What do we do about it?