The Charter School Office At The Delaware DOE Has A New Director

Denise Stouffer joined the Charter School Office at the Delaware Dept. of Education last April. but as of the past couple of weeks she became the Director of the Charter School Office.  She rose through the ranks to replace Jennifer Nagourney, who left the Delaware DOE on July 1st to join the New York City Dept. of Education.  But she had been working with the Delaware DOE for two years before that as a contractor with a title of “Data Governance Contractor”.  In 2010, she created a company called BHS Educational Services based out of Pennsylvania.  BHS specializes in helping individuals to create charter schools and professional development training.  Stouffer also helped out the DOE during their contract with Wireless Generation as a consultant that trained people on professional development and data driven instructional practices.  All this information is based on Stouffer’s LinkedIn account.  While her new title does not appear on that account, it was referenced in the Charter School Office presentation to the Delaware State Board of Education at their retreat earlier this week.

I have seen Denise Stouffer at meetings the past few weeks, whether at the State Board of Education or Every Student Succeeds Act meetings.  I was wondering who she was… now I know!  I had a decent relationship with Jennifer Nagourney and I hope the same can be said for Denise Stouffer.  I’m a pain in the ass at times.  But as I’ve always told folks at the DOE and written on here more times than I can count, if I’m barking up the wrong tree, let me know!  In any event, congratulations Denise!  You have big shoes to fill!

Delaware Charters & Delaware DOE Looking To Make Changes Against Delaware Law! And Who Is “The Author”?

Incompetence seems to rule the Delaware DOE these days.

The Delaware Department of Education, Delaware Charter Schools, and the Delaware Charter Schools Network have been holding meetings this year to look at changing two areas of their annual Performance Framework.  The Financial and Organizational Frameworks are two sections that have been controversial for charter schools in the first state.  Some of the proposed changes are minor but some are very big.  One statement from the proposed draft for the organizational framework probably sums up what many of the charter schools feel when these things roll out each year:

In order to avoid penalizing charter schools for anything less than perfection, the authorizer will apply a reasonable interpretation of sufficiency that acknowledges attentiveness, prudent compliance, and generally sound stewardship.

Let’s get real here Delaware!  Unless a charter school falls apart like Delaware Met, Moyer, and Pencader, you aren’t going to see the DOE or even Red Clay doing a lot in terms of compliance on some of these issues.  Especially website maintenance.  Far too many charters have been raked over the coals by bloggers such as myself for not adhering to the law on tons of the requirements.  But when it comes time for the charter to renew or get a modification, or even get a formal review, those things are rarely mentioned in the conversation.  The State Board of Education rarely talks about any of that stuff.  But in my eye, they need to be perfect with those things.  The districts do as well (see: Indian River).

One of the biggest flaws in this new system pertains to board membership.  Delaware law clearly states:

At the time at which the school commences its instructional program and at all times thereafter, the board of directors must include a teacher from at least 1 of the charter schools operated by the board and at least 1 parent of a student enrolled in a charter school operated by the board;

With this new organizational framework, they are proposing to change Delaware code, without any regulation or legislation, by giving charters a 90 day window to fill the parent and teacher slot for their board membership.  This label in the framework would give the charter a “partially meets standard”.  You can’t partially follow the law.  You either do it or you don’t.  In this area, you are either “meets standard” or “does not meet standard”.  As well, they want to do the same thing with not posting minutes and financial information on their website, but this would have a 60 day window.  You can’t cherry-pick through state law.  If the law needs to change, lobby legislators to change it.  But you can’t do it through the Delaware DOE and the State Board of Education.  This Department continues to defy Delaware legislators.  It is the legislators duty to write the laws of this state, not the Charter School Office at the DOE.

The proposed financial framework would give charters some leeway when it comes to reporting requirements or how they submit financial information with the state.  Let me be the first to say ALL Delaware schools need to get some serious training on this.  The training exists, but everyone seems to do what they want with limited to no oversight.  There have to be uniform procedures and policies across the board for every charter and district in the state with absolutely no excuses.  Once again, it comes down to partially breaking the law.  A misnomer if I’ve ever heard one.  But even more important, there have to be very real consequences for those who violate financial laws in our state.  This is something I hope and pray the 149th General Assembly tackles when they come back in January.  Because right now, it’s a train wreck.

I will fully admit I sometimes feel bad for the charters.  Especially when it comes to the DOE’s constant nitpicking about things.  An organization filled with more non-educators in leadership roles that doesn’t seem to be able to tell the difference between a right and left hand most of the time.

charterframeworkrevisionstimeline

But the most egregious thing out of all this: the window for public comment begins on September 1st.  But try finding them anywhere.  Good luck with that!  I happened to find the below documents in the DOE search engine.  How can you say this is an open, transparent, and collaborative method when the public can’t even comment on what you are proposing?  Even worse, the State Board of Education won’t let you comment on any action item on their agenda.  This won’t come up for final action at a State Board of Education meeting until their October 20th meeting, but if these documents are never released to the public it will be highly illegal for the State Board to take action.

charterframeworktimeline2

The Delaware DOE Charter School Office needs to release these drafts to the public and let them comment on it.  These documents have not been posted on the DOE website.  Care to take a wild guess who is running the show on this?  If you said David Blowman, that would be correct on the surface.  Until they find a replacement for Jennifer Nagourney, who left the DOE on July 1st, Blowman is the guy in charge.  But in a very odd find, well, you’ll get the picture…

de-proposed-fincl-framework-authorship

de-proposed-organ-framework-authorship

How can Jennifer Nagourney be the author of the below documents when she is no longer an employee at the Delaware DOE?  Doesn’t she work in the Charter School Office at the New York City DOE now?  What in God’s name is David Blowman doing?  This is the same guy who has run the non-transparent local cost per pupil scam that has caused a “firestorm” in Delaware.  The same guy who went ahead and sent out changes to school districts and charter schools without the old Secretary of Education Seal of Approval?  And he is in charge of this hot mess?  Where charters seem to think it will be okay to partially follow the law?  With a guy like Blowman running the show no wonder they think they can do as they please!  And, it goes without saying, I’m sure the Sisters of Sin, Donna Johnson and Kendall Massett with the Delaware Charter Schools Network have their hands involved in this.  But Nagourney?  Unless you are getting paid for this work when you are no longer employed by the State of Delaware, why are you even involved at this point?  It’s not like I haven’t written about the old PDF right-click trick.  And you guys keep forgetting that essential thing!

At this point in time, our General Assembly needs to meet for emergency hearings and subpoena the hell out of the entire Delaware Department of Education.  Every single document in their system.  Every nook and cranny, from top to bottom.  The more than obvious fraud and lies coming out of this Department is readily available for anyone to see.  I’ve proved it over and over again.  But no one does anything about it.  It’s time.  You know it and I know it.  So stop making postures and just do it!

Below are the two proposed frameworks.  These are not approved, just in draft form.

Proposed Financial Framework

Proposed Organizational Framework

Jennifer Nagourney Leaving Delaware DOE

I have to admit, I was kind of bummed to hear this.  Lord knows I have issues with charter schools, but I do recognize they are here.  If you were going to have someone do the job, Jennifer Nagourney was the right choice to run the Charter School Office at the Delaware Department of Education.  She inherited a huge mess and had to put out a lot of fires during her time.  But she did it with grace and aplomb during a very troubling era of Delaware charter schools.  I know I kept her busy, but the reality is it would have been a great deal worse had someone else been in the job.  There were many things going on she had absolutely no control of.  The actions of others in charters who were doing what they did long before her time.

I remember attending an Enrollment Preference Task Force meeting at the end of 2014.  The subject for the members was if charter schools should have pre-admission assessments.  There was a lot of lively discussion on the subject.  Nagourney was filling in for Mark Murphy at that meeting.  When it came time for her to submit her opinion, she openly stated she was against pre-admission assessments.  At least with the people I was sitting with, a collective jaw-drop occurred.  I knew at that moment Nagourney wasn’t the typical charter leader.

Nagourney and I had more than our fair share of issues, but those were the roles the fates set up for us.  In the end though, I think she made a lot of much-needed changes for Delaware charter schools.  They aren’t perfect.  Nothing in education is and ever will be.  But she pushed transparency from the charters, and if you compare charter school websites from before her time to the way they are now, they are much better.  She held charters accountable for their actions and some didn’t survive the challenge.  Some made strides to be better schools than they were before.  Formal Reviews won’t be the same without her.  She was a perfectionist and made sure every possible detail was included on the DOE website.  That was a good thing!

Jennifer’s last day at the DOE will be July 1st.  From what I hear, she will be working for the New York City Department of Education and will be their Director of Charter Policy and Strategy.  This will be a much bigger role for her.  All I can say is good luck with Eva Moskowitz!

Delaware STEM Academy’s Fate…Charter Revocation

The Delaware STEM Academy is up for a decision right now at the Delaware State Board of Education meeting.  Director of the Charter School Office Jennifer Nagourney is advising the State Board why the charter was put on formal review: low enrollment and financial viability.  Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky’s recommendation is to close the school.  He believes the school’s board and leadership are committed to student success, he is very concerned about the low enrollment and how it can adapt a strong, rigorous program.  He agrees with the Charter School Accountability Committee’s recommendation to close the school and wants the school to surrender their charter.

The State Board gave a motion, which was seconded, to discuss the motion.  State Board member Pat Heffernan asked about the numbers.  Nagourney said they are currently at 129 enrolled students.  Heffernan asked where they had to be.  Nagourney advised, to be in compliance with state law, they would need to be at 80% of their approved enrollment of 250 students, which would be 200 students enrolled.  They had to be at that number by April 1st of this year.

Assistant Deputy Secretary David Blowman is stating there is considerable financial risk with the current enrollment in being able to adequately provide their academic program to students.  Dr. Teri Quinn Gray, the State Board President, is asking how much of the grant money allotted to the school has been used.  Blowman indicated he didn’t have a specific answer.  I just checked on Delaware Online Checkbook and the school has spent $137,444.67 in principal salaries for the school.

Earlier today, Technical.ly Delaware reported earlier today how Delaware STEM Academy was granted $175,000 for principal salaries through their Delaware Charter School Performance Award last year which the DOE states is allowable by state law but State Rep. John Kowalko expressed disappointment the school used the performance award for leader salaries.  With pensions and other benefits, an additional $61,739.89 was used by the school.  Included in that figure is $6,866.81 in United States Department of Education wage garnishments.

There is a lot of discuss surrounding how the school would be able to perform if they had their full funding.  Blowman is going over different components of the school’s funding.  Dr. Gray is asking if they can implement fidelity of the charter with the changes the school proposed after their final CSAC meeting.  Blowman said on some components yes, but on others no.  He said the school made as many changes as they possibly could but Blowman referred to Godowsky’s recommendation that their proposals were insufficient.  Gray asked what the lowest number they could fall to when they self-destruct, so to speak.  Donna Johnson said the school stated they would surrender their charter if they fell to 120 students by July 1st.

There was discussion on reduced funding to Innovative Schools in lieu of a partnership with another Delaware charter school, Positive Outcomes.  Board member Melendez stated he wants facts and not assumptions.  He told Blowman he doesn’t appreciate that.  Melendez said it is either black or white. (seems like a bit of tension between the two)

Nagourney gave an opinion that the closure of Delaware Met in December impacted potential enrollment in the school as she heard parents say they did not want the same thing to happen here.  With that being said, Nagourney also stressed the board was doing everything they were supposed to be doing in terms of what needed to happen to have an effective opening.

More discussion happened surrounding what will happen with the enrolled students since the school choice window is closed.  Donna Johnson indicated they would go back to their local feeder district, which caused board member Melendez to become very concerned.  Secretary Godowsky shared that when Delaware Met closed, the charters and districts in New Castle County were very helpful with helping the affected students transition.  Melendez felt the State Board and DOE are responsible for these kinds of situation and something needs to happen to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

The Delaware State Board of Education voted 5-1 to revoke the charter school of Delaware STEM Academy.  Dr. Teri Quinn Gray was the sole no vote.

Updated, 7:35pm: This article has been updated to change the State Board of Education vote from 6-1 to 5-1.  State Board Member Gregory Coverdale was absent.

 

Key Audio Recording Links From State Board of Education Meeting Yesterday

Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities.  Wilmington Education Improvement Commission Redistricting Plan.  Christina Priority Schools.  Delaware Met.  All are here.  Please listen.  Please pay attention.  Listen to the words that are said by our unelected Governor appointed State Board of Education.  This meeting touched on most of the hot education issues of our state in one form or another.  Then email your state legislator politely requesting legislation for our State Board of Education to be elected officials.

WEIC Public Comment: Part 2

Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities: Part 3

WEIC Presentation to State Board: Part 5

Christina Priority Schools (about 1/3rd of the way in), Update on Opt-Out Penalties via ESEA Waiver Request with US DOE: Part 6

Delaware Met (starts about 1/3rd of the way in for Del Met) and Charter Renewals: Part 7

 

15 Who Made An Impact In 2015: Jennifer Nagourney

Jennifer Nagourney serves as the Executive Director of the Charter School Office at the Delaware Department of Education.  To say she had a hell of a year would be an understatement!  Nagourney’s role is to oversee the charter schools in Delaware and to make sure they are in compliance on academic, financial, and organizational performance frameworks.  When a charter school has issues, she is one of the main DOE people who determines what type of action to take.  Her office works with all of the other offices in the DOE.

2015 started off with a bang in the form of Family Foundations Academy.  After former Heads of School Sean Moore and Dr. Tennell Brewington got caught with their hands in the school finances cookie jar, the Charter School Office put the school under formal review a year ago.  After a whirlwind amount of speculation, the school’s board and leaders was essentially taken over by East Side Charter School.  A few months later, no less than four Delaware charters went on formal review: Academy of Dover, Prestige Academy, Delaware Design-Lab High School, and Freire Charter School.  All came off formal review status but they are all on probation.  Two were new charters scheduled to open in August who received the designation due to low enrollment which affected their financial viability.  Two were for academic reasons, and of those two one was for their former school leader embezzling from the school (Academy of Dover’s Noel Rodriguez).

As the 2014-2015 school year ended, two charters officially closed due to charter revocation decisions by the Delaware State Board of Education.  Moyer and Reach Academy for Girls closed their doors forever, but five more were opening up in August: Delaware Design-Lab High School, Delaware Met, First State Military Academy, Freire Charter School, and Great Oaks Charter School.

Towards the end of September, issues started to rise with one of the new charters, Delaware Met.  After the school was placed on formal review by the State Board in October, the Charter School Accountability Committee voted yesterday for a recommendation of charter revocation at the end of this marking period, in January 2016.

Earlier in the year, with all of the charter movement, as well as the designation of the sixPriority Schools in Christina and Red Clay, the Wilmington Education Advisory Commission recommended a charter moratorium in Wilmington until the state could come up with an action plan for charters in Delaware.  This became legislation in the Spring, and this all morphed into the current Wilmington Education Improvement Commission which is leading a redistricting effort in Wilmington.  While charters don’t make the news a lot coming out of this, they are certainly a part of any plans that come out of the commission.  The State Board of Education will vote on this in January 2016.  Meanwhile, the DOE and the State Board are working on the Statewide Resources for Educational Opportunities in Delaware to determine how all schools in Delaware can best serve their students.

Due to the events at Family Foundations Academy and Academy of Dover, House Bill 186 caused controversy in the Spring.  Introduced by State Rep. Kim Williams , Hosue Bill 186 dealt with how charter schools are audited.  The bill morphed a couple of times into the final bill which passed the House in June and will land in the Senate Education Committee come January.  As well, State Rep. John Kowalko openly and publicly opposed the Charter School Transportation Fund and the Charter School Performance Fund.  Rep. Williams also introduced a bill to make sure if a charter school student transfers mid-year to a traditional public school district, the money would follow the student.  That bill has not even been heard by the House Education Committee, over ten months after its introduction.  I’ve heard rumblings of legislation which would make sure traditional districts send timely information on students that transfer to charters, especially in regards to IEPs and discipline.  Which is fine in theory, but there is a caveat in the potential legislation about the districts paying for the funding if the charters don’t receive that information in a timely fashion.  That will be a bill to watch in 2016 if it garners enough support to become potential legislation.  It will be a lightning rod of controversy between the pro and con charter crowd in Delaware.

All of this charter school activity has certainly kept Nagourney and her staff on their toes at the DOE in Dover.  With a staff of four, this is a great deal of work for this office.  Add in modifications, performance reviews, special education compliance, standardized testing, and leadership changes among the charters in 2015, Nagourney definitely had her busiest year ever at the DOE.  It is no secret I have issues with many concepts behind charter schools as well as the DOE, but I believe the Delaware DOE has come a long way in terms of monitoring the charters and taking action when needed.  This can all be attributed to the leadership of Jennifer Nagourney.  While her name doesn’t get thrown around in the media the way Secretary Godowsky or even Penny Schwinn does, make no mistake that Nagourney is one of the busiest leaders at the DOE.  I am hoping, for her sake, that 2016 does not throw as many challenges her way.  In fact, the Charter School Office is taking another look at how the Organizational part of their charter performance framework is made up and a working group will be starting to make recommendations on this.

Nagourney, in my opinion, is one of the strongest leaders at the Delaware DOE.  This is not an honor I usually give to anyone down there!  At least there is only one charter opening up next year in the form of Delaware STEM Academy.  I am pretty sure the DOE will be watching very carefully at how any new charters use their planning period between approval and opening to make sure a Delaware Met never happens again!  My biggest wish for this office to carefully monitor special education at Delaware charters.  I’m sure that falls under the watch of the Exceptional Children Resources Group at the DOE, but I can say with certainty they are missing a lot.  It is not every charter, but it is far too many.  I have tons of issues with special education as a whole in Delaware, but some charters do not even know the most basic fundamental aspects of special education laws.

Underneath all of this is a potential ticking time-bomb in the form of the ACLU and Delaware Community Legal Aid complaint to the Office of Civil Rights a year ago.  This complaint alleged certain charter schools discriminated against minorities and students with disabilities in their application process.  If it becomes a law suit, it would be against the State of Delaware and the Red Clay Consolidated School District who is the only district charter school authorizer in the state.  Information was sent to that office in February this year, but no ruling has come down since.  This could happen at any time.

DOE Releases Delaware Charter School Organizational and Financial Framework Reports

  • The Delaware Department of Education released the Financial and Organizations parts of the Delaware Charter School Performance Framework.  Because the State Board of Education has not voted on the new accountability structure called the Delaware School Success Framework, the Academic portion of the Performance Framework is not available yet.

For the most part, most of the charters did very well on these two parts.  One thing to keep in mind is the financial reports which do not give a clear indication of how charters are doing financially since it is based on their audit that deals with where the schools stands as of 6/30/15.  This does not take into account how much money they may receive in deposits the very next day.  As an example, when I read Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security it stated they were one day out in being able to pay bills.  This is where they were at on 6/30/15 but schools receive their funding after the start of the new fiscal year which occurs on July 1st of each year.

There were some things I want to point out.  Another important thing to remember is that this is only for the timeframe of July 1st, 2014 until June 30th, 2015.  So something like the State Auditor investigation into Delaware charters and their finding released in September of this year would not appear on these frameworks.  However, for a school like Academy of Dover and their financial issues, that was released in June 2015 so it does appear.  Some of the schools have already gone through a formal review, like Family Foundations Academy, and would not be able to have “double jeopardy” based on these reports unless new information was brought to light.

For those who have said the Charter School Office at the DOE doesn’t monitor things (of which I have been guilty), these reports show this is not the case in many areas. I was actually happy to see the high amount of bullying reporting violations because it does show someone is keeping track of these things. I wish these bullying incidents never happened but I have always said it needs to be monitored more closely. I have a sneaky suspicion more is going to come out on this soon and it is something the DOE may not even be aware of, but that is another matter. There were fairly consistent violations with many schools: the percentage of highly-qualified teachers, procurement card policies, and websites having all the correct information. As any reader of Kilroy’s Delaware and this blog are aware, we both keep track of those things often.

I have to give props to Jennifer Nagourney and her crew over there for the thoroughness in these reports. As I keep track of employees coming and going at the DOE, it looks like the charter school office actually lost an employee over the past year so their workload has to be even bigger. Whether that position went to fund the Race To The Top positions is another matter entirely, but I do know the people in this office work hard.  I’ll probably get crucified for this, but I would love to see the traditional school districts get monitored for some of this stuff, especially the bullying reporting.

Without further ado, here are the ratings for all the Delaware charters in Organizational and Financial aspects of their Performance Framework. I didn’t delve too much into the financial pictures for the above reasons. At the end is a link to all the charter reports and a sample of one so folks can see the new format which explains a lot of the reasoning for what is in the reports.

Academia Antonia Alonso

Organizational: Does Not Meet Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Did not submit payroll internal control plan to the Division of Accounting upon request
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to financial oversight were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included monthly financial statements, audited financial statements, Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) agendas, CBOC minutes, and CBOC notice.
  • FY15 Audit Results:
  • 2 material weaknesses (#2015-01 and #2015-02)
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to governance were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included Board of Directors meeting minutes and Board of Directors meeting agendas.
  • No evidence of completion of educator or administrator evaluations as required by law
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (21.4%)

Academy of Dover

Organizational: Does Not Meet Standard
Financial: Does Not Meet Standard

  • Misuse of funds by now-former School Leader identified by Delaware Auditor of Accounts in June 23, 2015 report:
  • Poor internal controls identified by Delaware Auditor of Accounts in June 23, 2015 report
  • Did not submit payroll internal control plan to Division of Accounting upon request
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to financial oversight were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included monthly financial statements, audited financial statements, Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) agendas, CBOC minutes, and CBOC meeting notices
  • FY15 Audit Results: Qualified opinion
  • 2 material weaknesses (#2014-003 and #2015-001)
    1 instance of noncompliance (#2015-001)
  • Non-compliance with State Employees’, Officers’, and Officials’ Code of Conduct by now-former School Principal
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to governance were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included Board of Directors meeting minutes, Board of Directors meeting agendas, and Board of Directors meeting notice
  • As noted in formal review, started year without accountability systems for school leader – put in place after school leader departed
  • Substantiated incident involving teacher violence against student
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (93.5%)

Campus Community

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (81.6%)

Charter School of Wilmington

Organizational: Not produced by DOE (Red Clay)
Financial: Meets Standard

Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security

Organizational: Does Not Meet Standard
Financial: Falls Far Below Standard

  • Promotion and graduation requirements not met, including scheduling and transcript verification
  • Attendance goal of 95% not met (90.6%)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (84.9%)

*Editor’s Note: While I am not focusing heavily on the financial portions of these, I do want to note this school has been rated Falls Far Below Standard in financial for FY12, FY14 and FY15 and was Does Not Meet in FY13.

Delaware College Prep

Organizational: Not produced by DOE (Red Clay)
Financial: Falls Far Below Standard

*Editor’s Note: Similar to the last school, DCP was Does Not Meet for financial in FY11 and FY12, and was Falls Far Below in FY13, FY14, and FY15

Delaware Military Academy

Organizational: Not produced by DOE (Red Clay)
Financial: Not ready yet

Early College High School

Organizational: Not Ready Yet
Financial: Not Ready Yet

EastSide Charter School

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Social Studies participation rate of 95% on state assessment not met (93.50%)
  • Children’s Internet Protection Act/E-Rate: Non-compliant Internet Safety Policy and Internet Safety Curriculum
  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance.
  • Division of Accounting review of payroll policies resulted in rating of “weak” (potential ratings include “strong,” “adequate,” “lacking,” or “weak”)
  • Alternative administrator evaluation framework not yet approved by the Department as required by 14 Del. C. § 1270(f)
  • Failure to record four substantiated incidents of bullying (since corrected)
  • Failure to post Delaware Department of Justice Ombudsman information to school website (since corrected)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (65.9%)

Family Foundations Academy

Organizational: Does Not Meet Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Misuse of funds by now-former school leaders during the reportable period
  • Division of Accounting review of payroll policies resulted in rating of “weak” (potential ratings include “strong,” “adequate,” “lacking,” or “weak
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to financial oversight were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included monthly financial statements, Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) agendas, and CBOC minutes
  • FY15 Audit Results: Qualified opinion on financial statements
    Adverse opinion on CFDA 84.010, Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies
    3 material weaknesses (#2015-01, #2015-02 and #2015-03)
    1 significant deficiency (#2015-04)
    2 instances of noncompliance (#2015-01 & #2015-04)
  • Note: Family Foundations Academy experienced near-complete turnover within its Board of Directors and school leadership team in January 2015, with additional changes made over the reporting period that resulted in significant changes to governance policies and procedures. The Organizational Framework Report includes data from the entire reporting period. In the development of this report and rating, the Department attempted to identify which areas of non-compliance can be attributable to individuals no longer associated with the school.
  • Non-compliance with State Employees’, Officers’, and Officials’ Code of Conduct by now-former school leaders during the reportable period; In response, charter school board implemented a new organizational chart, made staffing changes, and implemented new employee management policies
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to governance were not posted as required by code at multiple points until December 2014. These included Board of Directors meeting minutes, Board of Directors meeting agendas, and Board of Directors meeting notice
  • No evidence of completion of educator or administrator evaluations as required by law
  • Failure to post Delaware Department of Justice Ombudsman information to school website (since corrected)
    Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (85.9%)

First State Montessori Academy

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Did not submit payroll internal control plan to the Division of Accounting upon request
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to financial oversight were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period; these included monthly financial statements and Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) minutes (since corrected)
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to governance were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period; these included Board of Directors meeting minutes and Board of Directors meeting agendas (since corrected)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (78.6%)

Gateway Lab School

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Social Studies participation rate of 95% on state assessment not met (94.11%)
  • Use of PCard by school personnel absent prior approval from Division of Accounting following unanticipated change in personnel – no improper expenditures identified
  • Division of Accounting review of payroll policies resulted in rating of “weak” (potential ratings include “strong”, “adequate”, “lacking”, or “weak”.
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that monthly financial statements were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period (since corrected)
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that annual report was not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period (since corrected)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (86.0%)


Kuumba Academy

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to financial oversight were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included monthly financial statements, audited financial statements, Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) agendas, and CBOC minutes (since corrected)
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to governance were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included Board of Directors meeting minutes and Board of Directors meeting agendas
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that the charter school’s annual report was not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period
  • Reporting requirements – Failure to report discipline incidents (since corrected)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (59.6%)

Las Americas Aspiras

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Division of Accounting review of payroll policies resulted in rating of “lacking” (potential ratings include “strong,” “adequate,” “lacking,” or “weak.”)
  • Reporting requirements – failure to include a reason for bullying incident as required by 14 Del. C. §411D(b)(2)(k) (since corrected)

MOT Charter School

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance.
  • Division of Accounting review of payroll policies resulted in rating of “lacking” (potential ratings include “strong,” “adequate,” “lacking,” or “weak.”)
  • Reporting requirements – failure to include a reason for substantiated bullying incidents as required by 14 Del. C. § 411D(b)(2)(k) (since corrected)

Newark Charter School

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance.

Odyssey Charter School

Organizational: Does Not Meet Standard
Financial: Falls Far Below Standard

  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance.
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to financial oversight were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included monthly financial statements, Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) agendas, and CBOC minutes
  • CBOC did not operate as a distinct public body from Board of Directors until April 2015
  • CBOC meeting minutes from July 2014 to September 2014 mispresented as meetings of a distinct public body
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to governance were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included Board of Directors meeting minutes and Board of Directors meeting agendas.
  • Board of Directors meetings in December 2014 and January 2015 closed to the public
  • From July 2014 to January 2015, Board of Directors bylaws stated that an Executive Committee could meet in violation of Open Meeting Law meeting access, notice, agenda, and minutes requirements.

Positive Outcomes

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Social Studies participation rate of 95% on state assessment not met (90.00%)
  • Non-compliant with Title I, Part A: Schoolwide Plans
  • Non-compliant with Title II, Part A: Highly Qualified Teachers (HQT) and Highly Qualified Paraprofessionals (HQP)
  • Non-compliant with Perkins: Secondary Career and Technical Education (CTE)
  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance.
  • Division of Accounting review of payroll policies resulted in rating of “lacking” (potential ratings include “strong,” “adequate,” “lacking,” or “weak.”)
  • Reporting requirements – failure to include a reason for substantiated bullying incidents as required by 14 Del. C. § 4112D(b)(2)(k) (since corrected)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (84.1%)

Prestige Academy

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Falls Far Below Standard

  • Social Studies participation rate of 95% on state assessment not met (94.03%)
  • Education of Homeless Students – Did not provide budget upon request
  • Non-compliant PCard internal control policies (since corrected)
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to financial oversight were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included monthly financial statements, audited financial statements, Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) agendas, CBOC minutes, and CBOC meeting notice (since corrected)
  • Reporting requirements – failure to correctly report crimes as required by 14 Del. C. § 4112, and failure to code students as being placed in a Consortium Discipline Alternative Program as required by 14 DE Admin. C. 611.3.0 (since corrected)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (64.5%)

Providence Creek Academy

Organizational: Does Not Meet Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Division of Accounting review of payroll policies resulted in rating of “weak” (potential ratings include “strong,” “adequate,” “lacking,” or “weak.”)
  • FY15 Audit Results:
    4 material weaknesses (#2015-001, #2015-002, #2015-003, and #2015-004)
    1 instance of noncompliance (#2015-002)
  • Misuse of funds by now-former employee during the reportable period; upon discovery, the charter school reported concerns to State Auditor of Accounts and implemented new oversight policies
  • Non-compliance with State Employees’, Officers’, and Officials’ Code of Conduct; upon discovery, the charter school board implemented a new organizational chart, made staffing changes, and implemented new employee management policies
  • School leader evaluation not completed for 2014-15, due to October 2014 resignation of Board of Directors member trained in DPAS evaluation system and unavailability of training opportunities until Summer 2015; charter school reported that training was completed after the reporting period and the evaluation was in progress as of the date of publication of this report
  • Reporting requirements – failure to record a substantiated criminal violation by a staff member in eSchool as required by 14 Del. C. § 4112 (recorded September 2015) and failure to include a reason for substantiated bullying incidents as required by 14 Del. C. § 411D(b)(2)(k) (since corrected)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (85.5%)

Sussex Academy

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Non-compliant with Title II, Part A: HQT/HQP; Professional Development Activities; Budget vs. Expenditures
  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance.

Thomas Edison

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Children’s Internet Protection Act/E-Rate: Non-compliant Internet Safety Policy and Internet Safety Curriculum (since corrected)
  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance.
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to governance were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included Board of Directors meeting minutes and Board of Directors meeting agendas (since corrected)
  • E-Rate reporting (since corrected)
  • Reporting requirements – failure to include a reason for bullying incident as required by 14 Del. C. § 411D(b)(2)(k) (since corrected)

Sample Report:

Link To All The Reports

Delaware Met And Their Train Wreck Of A Formal Review Meeting At The DOE Today

The Delaware Met is drowning.  I don’t know any other way to put it.  If this school is open for the 2016-2017 school year, I will be completely shocked.  The Delaware charter school had their first Formal Review meeting today at the Delaware Department of Education, where they faced nearly two hours of questions from the Charter School Accountability Committee.  The answers, when they provided them, caused great concern with the members of the committee, members of the audience, and myself.

To start, let me name all the players in today’s meeting, because there were many.

Charter School Accountability Committee: Deputy Secretary of Education David Blowman, Exceptional Children Resources Group DOE Employee Barbara Mazza, Associate Secretary of Adult Education & School Supports Karen Field-Rogers, Educator Effectiveness & Talent Management Atnre Alleyne, Community Representative & Former DOE Employee Paul Harrell, Education Associate at DOE for Science Assessment and STEM April McRae

Staff To The Committee: Charter School Office Director Jennifer Nagourney, Deputy Attorney General & Consul to the Committee Catherine Hickey, Executive Director of the State Board of Education Donna Johnson, from the Charter School Office: John Carwell, Michelle Whalen, & Sheila Kay Lawrence, from the DOE Finance Office: Brook Hughes

Delaware Met Representation: Innovative Schools Chief School Officer Teresa Gerchman, Delaware Met Board President Nash Childs, & Innovative Schools Financial Services School Support employee Karen Thorpe

The meeting began at 1:30pm with a roll call of the participants.  While the exact wording may not be exact in all conversation, I did my best to type notes as fast as I could.  If there is a specific quote, I will highlight that.

Blowman: purpose of meeting is to discuss and review relevant material to see if remedial measures against the school need to be taken, there will be no specific recommendations coming out of this meeting.  This is a preliminary discussion.  The initial report will be out by November 9th and Delaware Met has 15 days to review and comment on the report.  The grounds for formal review were outlined in the letter sent to the school, including potential violations of the school’s charter in respect to the school’s educational program, school culture, board and leadership capabilities, and financial viability.  On November 1st, the Delaware Met submitted documents to the DOE and the committee will consider any documents and discussion at the meeting to determine if charter holder is compliant in these areas and the committee will let the school know if they need additional information.

There was some initial confusion right off the bat as Blowman wanted to discuss the educational program, and Gerchman mentioned something about the Code of Conduct being included in the formal review, to which Blowman responded he was more concerned if the procedures were followed with fidelity.

The first conversation surrounded the technology and computers at the school:

Teresa Gerchman: In addressing computers at the school, she said the school has a firmer grip on what is needed and the school is having meetings with parents so students and parent can understand the computer policy.  The school is working with Positive Outcomes which has the similar Go Guardian software which tracks the computers students have, websites students visit, and any connections for safety of students.  They will be handing out computers on 11/12, will be used starting in the 2nd quarter.

Jennifer Nagourney: At the 10/12 Del Met board meeting, it was discussed there was damage to the computer lab.

Gerchman: The school had a brownout but it was not the one-on-one technology the students will be using

David Blowman: Was the plan for computers to hand them out in mid-November or was that reflective of enrollment?

Gerchman: It was planned for 1st quarter but discipline issues came up and wanted to make sure parents understood the computer policies.

Donna Johnson: How can students check out computers each morning in a personalized learning environment?

Gerchman: Advisors help with that.

Johnson: (Asks same question again, Gerchman interrupts Johnson as she is asking her question)

Gerchman: We will be using the computers to set up internships and to do blended learning in the classroom.

Johnson: How will the computers be used outside of the school?

Gerchman: Students will be using other materials for outside work and by the 3rd quarter students will be able to take computers outside of school.

Johnson: What about teacher training for the technology (for some reason it was difficult to hear this part)

Gerchman: Training was done last summer.

Johnson: Is there after school or extended day to use computers?

Gerchman: Not now but the school will be able to do that.  Basketball starts soon so students involved will have 4-5pm study hall but right now there is no afterschool transportation.

Atnre Allyne: What determines readiness (for computers)?

Gerchman: It is intership readiness.

Johnson: What type of digital citizenship are students taking?

Gerchman: Not sure.  That is with Big Picture (model for school).

Johnson: How long is advisory each day?

Gerchman: 90 minutes.  Charly Adler with Big Picture Learning is involved.  He is providing training and hands on coaching for teachers and for advisory curriculum.

April McRae: What is the ratio of advisors to students?

Gerchman: 17:1

McRae: If advisors are also teachers, liaisons, and internship counselors how does that work?

Gerchman: They work with students during advisory period to go over personalized learning.

McRae: How long was training over the summer?

Gerchman: One month.  Charly was there to help there to help trouble shoot.

Blowman: Was there an awareness teachers weren’t ready?

Gerchman: No, teachers felt like they were prepared.  What they were not prepared for was what it took to engage students in advisory.  They thought the kids would be ready to jump in and they were not prepared for what happened.  Many kids were not engaged in the Big Picture Model.

Karen Field-Rogers: Was there something else that could have helped?

Gerchman: The Summer Institute was not required but going forward they will make it required.  Less than 50% of the students participated.

Blowman: Is there a difference in retention performance for students that went through the Summer Institute?

Gerchman: Yes.  The advisors are determining which students are internship ready but they do not have a percentage calculation.

Blowman: The model was always Big Picture.  The school had four years from the beginning of the application process.  I’m wondering how much planning and implementation was done by the ??? (couldn’t understand)

Gerchman: No.  We clearly stated what it was.  The majority of students who applied or went to open house knew it was clearly defined.  I don’t know if application fully embraced the model when students applied.  Big Picture was not (created?) for an urban setting.  We did not have right connection with the right school models (named schools from California)

McRae: That surprises me because the whole model is based on an urban setting.  I would have assumed Charly and his trainers would have based it on that.  This is a big disconnect.

Gerchman: The Providence schools were the foundation for this.

McRae: I have great concern.

Gerchman: We never heard this till after they opened.

At this point, DOE employees were passing out Halloween candy in Carmike Cinemas popcorn bucket

Gerchman: We are about to start matching potential careers in advisory.  We are having parent meetings and both parents and students will sign off on those.

Blowman: When does the internship program start?

Gerchman: It will vary by student.  Every student will be in one by the 3rd quarter.  The plan was never for 9th graders to start on 9/1.

Blowman: There is a big gap between 9/1 and the 3rd quarter.

Gerchman: It was always the plan to have 10th graders start within 10 weeks.  Not all students are ready.  We will be doing internal internships instead of external for kids with a disciplinary record.  They will stay at school to learn expectations for the workplace.

Alleyne: How do you know they are all going to be ready?

Gerchman: When we say internship ready we mean external.  We have a lot of resources coming into the school to help out, and the internal students can do IT at school.

Barbara Mazza: What training have you given teachers for students with IEPs (Individualized Education Programs)?

Gerchman: We are having meetings with parents for one hour instead of a half hour.  All teachers have been given student goals and have a spreadsheet with all the goals.  Sue Ogden, the head of Special Education, is driving those meetings and she has worked w/teachers.

Mazza: Is she working with teachers on professional development for instruction?

Gerchman: Sue Ogden was not there during the summer.

Blowman: Do all eligible students have approved IEPs?

Gerchman: I can’t answer that.  I don’t know.  We are having meetings and they all have to do with transitional (not sure of next word after that)

Mazza: It has to be done within 60 calendar days of the schools opening date.  When did the school open?

German: 8/24.  Sue Ogden has a chart she is following closely.

Blowman: How many are handling special education?

Gerchman: 62.

Blowman: No, teachers.

Gerchman: We have Sue Ogden and two paraprofessionals and outside services for counseling, occupational therapy.

Blowman: That is equivalent to 4 units.

Mazza: How many unit counts did you estimate based on 9/30 student counts?

Karen Thorpe: 4 complex, 39 basic, 17 intensive.

Mazza: That is more than 4 units.  We want assurances every student had an IEP meeting before the 60 day mark.

Editor’s note: It got very quiet at this point.

Gerchman: Do you want a breakdown of service related hours?

Mazza: Not just that.  Also any behavioral needs being met.

Gerchman: We have social workers.

Mazza: You have 8 students identified with a disability?

Gerchman: That is where the mentoring team comes in.  We have a social worker, a psychologist to do the functional behavioral analysis and create the BIP (Behavior Intervention Plan).  Sue is involved in deciding if the behavior was a manifestation of the disability.  When a student brought a weapon to the school, we did a full manifestation determination hearing with the psychologist.

Blowman: Are you pushing inclusion?

Gerchman: Yes, and pull-out groups.  Classes are co-taught with special education teachers and there is time allotted  for pull-out services.

Blowman: How are you implementing RTI (Response to Intervention)?

Gerchman: We are utilizing intervention blocks of times. Students will be pulled for 45 minute times based on tier 1 or tier 2 services.  We are using pevious years of DCAS and Smarter Balanced scores and looking for kids that were consistently low.  Sue did additional testing to get to current levels.  Students get those additional services in addition to special education.

Johnson: Funds generated for special education students must be used for those students. I want a follow-up on how much money is being spent on special education currently and how much is for unit counts and staffing.

April: Science & Social Studies.  I have questions.  The school provided a curriculum outline, but I have concerns.  You also provided 1st quarter objectives and they not in compliance with the science coalition that was provided.  It is not compliant, and it almost feels like you will join the social studies and science coalitions but the application stated the school would be members of that coalition before the school opened and the school year started.

Gerchman: In my role now I can’t explain what happened.  When we saw we were put on formal review we reached out to those coalitions.

Nagourney: Is there anyone in this room that can explain this? Any board members?

Gerchman: I can’t explain it.

Nagourney: Is there anyone here that can answer this?

NO ONE IN ROOM THAT CAN ANSWER!!!

Johnson: Delaware Met had an additional year of planning to get ready.  The charter was approved by the Secretary and the Board (State Board) did not go through the exact science and social studies curriculum because they were joining that coalition.  I see them joining now because they are on formal review. I don’t see this matching to state standards and don’t see teachers have already gone through training to understand current state standards.

Nagourney: Who was responsible for overseeing this process?

Johnson: I don’t care who was responsible.  I want to know what happened and why because they had an additional year.  Those are basics and that’s very concerning.

McRae: Kind of what Donna (Johnson) said but since you are not currently members of the coalition we would like to see lessons aligned to state standard to see students are getting that curriculum.

Blowman: How long into the school year before that impacts students?  A lot of what should have been done over the past two years is being done once the school opened.  It is sacrificing instruction.  You had two years. (Blowman goes over everything discussed up to this point)

Johnson: I have a question about the 1st week of school plan.  Was that week considered an on-ramp to high school or are those hours including instructional hours for the school year?

Gerchman: It was considered on-ramp for Big Picture Learning.  It was also an on-ramp to high school but more Big Picture.

Johnson: That does not count towards instructional hours.

Gerchman: We will subtract them out.

McRae: What does it mean to be intern ready?

Gerchman: Charly has worked with advisors to understand this.  It means the student is ready to go external: they will be ready with how to dress, language, behavior and expectations.  For students we feel are not ready to go external we will give internal (internships).

Paul Harrell: How often does the school psychologist visit the school?  3, 4 days a week?

Gerchman: I’m not sure.  I don’t have that information.

Harrell: The mentoring program, who does it?

Gerchman: It is run by AJ English, it is called English Lessons.  He has two other people for three total.

Harell: Are they local?

Gerchman: It is a local mentoring business, one is a licensed social worker.

Harrell: Does anyone else in Delaware use AJ English?

Gerchman: I’m not sure.

Nagourney: We would like a list of external internship partners.

Gerchman: We don’t have that because no one is in an internship yet but we do have have interested parties.

At this point, the CSAC dove into what everyone wanted to hear: School Culture!

Gerchman: My assessment on the school culture is it is not what is was supposed to be.  This is not a surprise to anyone walking through the door.  AJ English was supposed to be an after school program but we saw the need for additional support for students, a need to understand what is triggering behavior and not just punishing behavior.  They have a rubric.  Some mentors know students.  We added a school climate officer who was hired before the start of the school year.  I was not part of the process for hiring him.  I’m not sure why he wasn’t there the first week of school.  He was given additional support and we brought people in: An In-School suspension person with experience at that to make it more effective- consequences when they are there, doing school work.  He worked in the Philadelphia school system (Note to self: but is he credentialed in Delaware?).  We brought in Rob Moore who works in the community and runs a basketball program and knows students and families.  He is a climate monitor and he can remove students from class with a goal of getting them back into class.  Mr. Wilson has enough people on his team, a one-person team can not handle it.

Blowman: How is the current climate?

Gerchman: Not where it needs to be.  Teachers need to do a better job of fully engaging all the students with instruction and professional development, and using the Teaching for Excellence framework.  I just got to the school on 10/27.  That was always the plan and teachers trained on this in August.  With Tricia Hunter (the official Head of School, out on maternity leave until mid-November) going out on maternity leave those were not fully taking place but since she came on they are.  When my kids are better engaged they are learning.  When we determined the 4-5% of students causing problems, we do check-in and check-out with their advisor or mentor, we are using behavior intervention plans, and we are trying to stop what is going on outside of school from coming into school.  The school is implementing Teaching for Excellence and teachers got training over the summer.

Johnson: That was a minor modification and that didn’t happen until after school year started.

Gerchman: I was mistaken.

Mazza: How is ISS (In-School Suspension) handled?

Gerchman: Sue Ogden administers that.

Nagourney: When was the last time a police officer was called to the school?

Gerchman: The Mayor (of Wilmington, Dennis Williams) came last week.  We have a police officer there every day for 2 hours at dismissal.  Kids come from other high schools to meet friends or for other reasons.  Yesterday we had a student that was suspended come back to school to start a fight with another student.

Blowman: How many times have the police been called in?

Gerchman: I don’t know.

Nagourney: Are those incidents being recorded?

Gerchman: Yes.

Harrell: When was the code of conduct issued?

Gerchman: The beginning of school.

Harrell: Wouldn’t it have been better to send during summer given the population at the school?

Gerchman: We wanted to review it with the students instead of just giving them a document.

Blowman: What plans do faculty have in place to engage students? Are teachers fully able to get engaged with students?

Gerchman: They have lessons plans and they are giving feedback on lesson plans.  We are making sure teachers know who to put out and we are working with those teachers first.  This is not a kid issue, it’s an adult issue.  We need to help teachers get stronger with that, have better relationships with the students.

Harrell: How is the morale of the teachers?

Gerchman: Not great.

McRae: It sounds like you are having an issue with fighting.  A student came back to finish fighting…

Gerchman: We suspended the student for a vocal altercation.

McRae: Have adults been trained to handle physical altercations?

Gerchman: No, not all

McRae: You have 62 IEP students, THAT IS AN ABSOLUTE MUST,  AN ABSOLUTE IMPERATIVE

Gerchman: I just found out AJ English has programs in two other schools.

Johnson: Can you provide an outline of how school board and staff used the additional year to plan?

Nash Childs: It was difficult since we didn’t have a building.  We acquired the MBNA building bought by the state.  It took a long time.  We didn’t know we had the building until before the school year started (Innovative Schools officially purchased the building in November 2014).  We had to get a certificate of occupancy for the building.  The board was so focused on facilities and student recruitment that they lost valuable time working on the educational program and the code of conduct.  We had a school leader acquired but didn’t have the  money to pay her.  We had all these financial issues come together.

Johnson: What was relegated to the CMO (Charter Management Organization, in this case Innovative Schools)?  It seems to me they should have been working on those aspects.

Childs: As far as facilities that was the board.

Johnson: That makes sense.  How did the board hold the CMO accountable?

Editor’s note: No one answered this question.  I am guessing here, but I believe at least two board members were sitting in front of me but they were not a part of the response team. There was quite a bit of whispering between the two women at this point.

Childs: We work as a team.  I’m not an educator, but we have a lot of passionate volunteers on the board that love this model.  We thought this was perfect for downtown Wilmington but it is obvious we could have spent more time on the education program and climate.  The board didn’t know they were going to be faced with these issues.

Johnson: What are the current responsibilities the board is putting on Innovative Schools?

Childs: They have been a great partnership and the board is not throwing blame.

Johnson: What role is the board having on Innovative Schools?

Childs: We gave them a list in September 2015.  Our contractual agreement was not 100% implemented until after May of 2015.  They were doing work and not getting paid a dime for a while.

Gerchman: We are currently in the school and not charging the school for that.  Hodges (another Innovative Schools employee) is in the school and we are not charging for that.  We are working on filling gaps with no additional charge.

Blowman: Is that a deferral, cause we had that situation last year…. (I would love to hear more about that one!)

Gershman: It is not a deferral, when we looked at the numbers we rearranged their plan and how we could support them.

Johnson: In response towards the school leader, it says Innovative Schools additional roles would incur greater expense. Is the school having additional costs to cover your (Teresa Gerchman’s) primary duties?

Gerchman: I am working nights and weekends, no.

Johnson: Are you still CSO of Innovative Schools?

Gerchman: Yes.

Blowman: I am concerned about the capacity to serve all these schools.

Johnson: You are serving more schools now.  That was a concern last year and it is now.  I have questions around board governance training, due process training, and financial training.

Childs: We had training that started over a year ago. I can’t say who got what but I can get that list.

Johnson: How many board members have been on the board since you started the training process?

Childs: The majority.

Johnson: For new board members training?

Childs: Yes.

Gerchman: The entire board received DANA training and repeated this in September.

Kendall Massett: I was there and everyone did.

Gerchman: Not everyone got budget training.

Blowman: Financial Viability…

Thorpe: The current student count is 215. We have contractors in place for services, transportation, staffing in budget, our financial goals were not to draw any outside credit, to be able to reserve summer pay as required, as well as instructional goals to provide one on one technology.  The budget you received  was for 218 enrollment.

Nagourney: They submitted a new budget two hours ago.

Thorpe: We submitted a budget before the 9/30 count, but since we have had additional special education and what services are needed, and trying to get all the right people together for the budget.

Field Rogers: The budget submitted did not show funding streams.

Thorpe: It does now.

Gerchman: I was on leave when the letter came out so that is why we didn’t submit a budget.

Field-Rogers: The summer pay is part of a budget.

Thorpe: Those are in-school expenses

Field-Rogers: It shows a surplus of $10,000. Is this through 6/30?

Thorpe: It is a 12 month budget. This is before encumbrances, expenses from encumbrances are in current year budget.

Field-Rogers: This says there was a $65,000 line of credit was drawn in June.

Thorpe: Some bills did not get paid until July.

Field-Rogers: Are there any outside bank accounts?

Thorpe: None.

Field-Rogers: There were 215 students by 9/30. Have any students left since then?

Gerchman: Yes.

Blowman: How many students left since 9/30?

Gerchman: I am not sure. We sent four students back to Red Clay. (Discussion around working plan out with Red Clay to send the funding for those students to Red Clay)

Blowman: Were they special education?

Gerchman: No.

Nagourney: We received complaints as of this morning that students were not released for good cause.

Blowman: How is the school providing related arts: phys ed, fine arts, drivers ed, health? Cause you have a budget of that for $35,000.

Gerchman: We have a person doing phys ed and health, and some drivers ed.

Field Rogers: I’m confused cause revenues received doesn’t match the budget recieved, as well as transportation eligible students.

Thorpe: The local revenue matches what is on the DOE website. The state revenue is a little bit higher because we  have some teachers that will be credentialed.

Blowman: Page 3 says Academia. Is that correct?

Thorpe: That is correct. I will be more careful of that in the future.

Field-Rogers: Cafeteria funds of $189,000 seems really high…

Thorpe: That is correct, but that is what we are trending at.

Field-Rogers: Special Education is nine units and I see two teachers (paras) and one coordinator.

Mazza: Is Sue Ogden the Educational Diagnostician?

Gerchman: She is the Special Education Coordinator. (believe this to be the title that was said)

Nagourney: Are you planning for next year yet?

Gerchman: I don’t think my being the actual leader is effective. We are waiting on the school leader (Tricia) to come back on 11/19.

Massett: I want to point out this isn’t required.

Nagourney: We are looking at long-term financial viability.

McRae: I’m concerned with students leaving the school because of bullying, seven students left with good cause, police reports… do you feel students are safe on your campus?

Gerchman: More students feel safe now. Four bullied students left but one parent has expressed interest in returning.  The parents are concerned about retaliation for coming forward about bullying.  We have lots of students where that level of chaos is comfortable for them but for students not from those environments it is very hard.

Blowman: Do you believe students are safe in the school (looked directly at Gerchman)?

Gerchman: Yes. (long pause) We are reviewing applications for special education staff and having interviews tomorrow.  Sue is the specialist and we want to make sure she is comfortable.

Johnson: Can we get detail around engagement of parents and students with addressing culture, when the application was in process and when the school opened, with other Met schools, and the steps taken to engage parents and plans to move forward?

Nobody answered.

Blowman went around the committee asking members and staff to state what information was needed from Delaware Met.

McRae: Calendar of instructional hours and social studies and science lesson plans, units, and alignment to standards.

Mazza: We need confirmation they have reached out to John Sadowsky (Climate and Discipline Director at DOE, who did attend the meeting but left early, was not announced) for physical restraint training.  We want a list of IEPs and the 60 days, we aren’t seeing it in the system.

Gerchman: We got some expired IEPs, and we had problems with IEP Plus since 10/1.

Michelle Whalen: Please make sure all private information is redacted.

Mazza: If we find services were not being met what is the plan for making up time so services are met? And for the internships, we want to make sure these don’t provide barriers for students with disabilities.

Gerchman: We are using Positive Outcomes as a resource.

Harell: I want to know what other schools AJ English has a mentoring relationship with. Two teachers have left, I want to know of any other teachers leaving.

Johnson: I’ve asked for a lot. I’m asking for Schoology training, prior training, current use, additional follow-up on training for teachers, the training teachers got for social studies and science, the units are aligned to state standards, specific financial information about how much money receied for special education and how funds are being used and special education units staffed with  those funds, documentation on board docs to CMO, board training, detailed information on how board and staff utilized the additional planning year, and board engagements with parents and family members for school culture before school opened and after.  How many times have police been called?  Are there costs for Wilmington police to provide services?

Gerchman :Yes, $100 for two hours. This just started yesterday.

Field-Rogers: This isn’t budgeted.

Gerchman: We gave all the discipline information to John Sadowsky and the charter school office.

Johnson: (directed to DOE). I would like that information provided to our office (State Board of Education).

Blowman: The goal today is to assess where the school is today with concerns and to determine if there are still areas of concern. Meeting adjourned.

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.

Mapleton Charter Submits Major Modification To Move To Kent County, Lower Enrollment & Change Name

At yesterday’s Delaware State Board of Education meeting, it was announced the Mapleton Charter School of Whitehall submitted a major modification request on 9/16.  Mapleton is looking to move to Kent County, lower it’s enrollment and change it’s name.  While the last is not part of a major modification, the Charter School Office at the DOE is rolling it all into one big request.  The school is scheduled to open in the 2016-2017 academic year.

From my recollection, this would be the first time a charter has switched locations to a different county in Delaware.  Kent County currently has six charter schools: Campus Community, Providence Creek Academy, Academy of Dover, Positive Outcomes, First State Military Academy and Early College High School.  Three of them are in Dover, two in Smyrna, and one in Camden-Wyoming.  The only other charter school south of the Caesar Rodney School District is Sussex Academy, in the heart of Indian River School District.

Jennifer Nagourney, the Director of the Charter School Office, said it would be up on the Charter School website, but she also emphasized this is a very large application to which State Board member Pat Heffernan advised Nagourney to “get her reading glasses.”  I can’t wait to see it though.  I would love to know where they are planning to locate in Kent County.  I know Kendall Massett published an editorial on Town Square Delaware over a year ago about needing more charters in Kent and Sussex County.  While the bulk of Delaware’s charters are in New Castle County, and more specifically, Wilmington, two of the new charters that opened this year went on formal review due to low enrollment.  They made it out of that status, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Mapleton saw this happening and started making new plans.

I’m sure we will have more answers next week.  If I were a betting man, I would guess we could say them looking to move to southern Kent County.  But this is all guesswork on my end.  If this were the case, and I’m not saying it is, this could affect enrollment in Caesar Rodney, Lake Forest and Milford school districts the most.  And any location would of course be based on approval by the State Board of Education.  The State Board previously approved their application to begin as a K-2 school, with an enrollment of 100 in each grade.  Each successive year, the school will add the next grade going up to 5th grade in four years for a total of 600 students by 2020.  But of course, if the major modification is approved, their enrollment will be less. And obviously, their Middletown area location would be different.  And they probably don’t want to call it Mapleton Charter School at Whitehall if they aren’t in Whitehall.

Ironically enough, Mapleton’s Chair of their Board of Directors is Dr. Michael Stetter.  Stetter used to work at the Delaware DOE as their Director of Accountability Resources and

Delaware Charter School Compliance and Transparency Report 2015

“Head of School Report: School is completed for this year.  This year should go down in the history books as gone for good and never have history repeat itself.  We need to learn from the past.”

The above quote was found in a Delaware charter school’s board minute notes recently.  About a year ago, I went through all the charters websites and graded them on certain things: board minutes up to date, agendas for next board meetings posted, and monthly financial information posted.  I will be grading each charter based on this information again this year, but I am adding in Citizens Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) notifications and minutes.  I’m not including charters that haven’t opened yet or charters who got shut down this year cause really, what’s the point?

I can say a lot of the charters have become more compliant and transparent with these in the past year.  But some have not.  I gave a little bit of slack on the board minutes.  A lot of them had a meeting in the past week, so I don’t expect them to get the June minutes up right away.  If you see red, it’s not a major thing, but they need to fix it.  If it’s in BOLD red, they are majorly breaking the law and they need to fix that ASAP!  State law mandates charters put up their monthly financial info up within 15 days of their last board meeting.  As well, you have to have a CBOC committee and meetings.  Two of the charters on here with some big dinks are on probation already so they need to get on that.  Two others are up for charter renewal, so they definitely need to jam on it!

Academia Antonia AlonsoAgenda: no (only has two agendas for two board meetings in past year listed), Board Minutes: June 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: June 2015, Monthly Financials: April 2015, next board meeting: August 26th, Bonus: has meetings listed through end of 2015, Grade: C-

Academy of Dover– Agenda: Yes, Board minutes: June 2015, CBOC Meetings: Yes, CBOC Minutes: June 2015, Monthly Financials: April 2015, next board meeting: July 30th, Grade: B

Campus Community School– Agenda: July 2015, Board minutes: April 2015, CBOC Meetings: Yes, CBOC Minutes: March 2015, Monthly Financials: May 2015, next board meeting: not listed, Grade: D

Charter School of Wilmington– Agenda: Yes, Board Minutes: June 2015, CBOC Meetings: Yes, CBOC Minutes: May 2015, Monthly Financials: May 2015, next board meeting: not listed, but does indicate no July meeting, Grade: B

Delaware Academy of Public Safety & SecurityAgenda: no, website gives generic agenda for every meeting, Board Minutes: April 2015, CBOC Meetings: Yes, CBOC Minutes: April 2015, Monthly Financials: April 2015, next board meeting: none listed, last shows June 2015, Grade: F

Delaware College PrepAgenda: no, Board Minutes: April 2015, CBOC Meetings: no, CBOC Minutes: April 2014, Monthly Financials: June 2015, next board meeting: none listed, last shows June 2015, Grade F- for Formal Review

Delaware Military Academy– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: May 2015, CBOC Meetings: Yes, CBOC Minutes: January 2015, Monthly Financials: May 2015, next board meeting: none listed, states meets 4th Monday of the month, Grade: D

Early College High SchoolAgenda: no, Board Minutes: May 2015 (states June meeting had no quorum which is majority of board members present to approve items up for action), CBOC Meetings: no, CBOC Minutes: no, Monthly Financials: April 2015, next board meeting: none listed but states meets 4th Thursday of the month, Grade: F

Eastside Charter School– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: May 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: May 2015, Monthly Financials: May 2015, next board meeting: August 26th, Bonus: Shows anticipated board meeting dates thru June, 2016, Grade: A

Family Foundations Academy– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: May 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: April 2015, Monthly Financials: May 2015, next board meeting: August 26th, Bonus: shows anticipated board meeting dates thru June, 2016, Grade: A

First State Montessori AcademyAgenda: no, Board Minutes: February 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: May 2015, Monthly Financials: May 2015, next board meeting: none listed, shows meets 4th Thursday of the month, Weird Fact: Uses WordPress as their website, the same as Exceptional Delaware…, Grade: D+

Gateway Lab School– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: May 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: May 2015, Monthly Financials: June 2015, next board meeting: August 18th, Bonus: shows anticipated board meeting dates thru June, 2016, Grade: A+

Kuumba Academy– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: May 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: May 2015, Monthly Financials: May 2015, next board meeting: none listed, Grade: B

Las Americas Aspiras Academy– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: May 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: May 2015, Monthly Financials: yes*, next board meeting: none listed, states meets 4th Thursday of each month, *Superstar: Monthly Financial report is excellent, shows both what the DOE wants AND what state appropriations and codes are needed!!!!, Grade: A+

MOT Charter SchoolAgenda: no, Board Minutes: June 2015, CBOC Meetings: not sure, shows agenda for June 2015 meeting but last meeting was in May 2013, CBOC Minutes: May 2013, Monthly Financials: May 2015, next board meeting: none listed, Grade: F

Newark Charter School– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: June 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: June 2015, Monthly Financials: June 2015, next board meeting: August 18th, Bonus: board meetings listed through June, 2016, Grade: A+

Odyssey Charter School– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: June 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: May 2015, Monthly Financials: May 2015, next board meeting: August 12th, Grade: A-

Positive Outcomes– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: May 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: June 2015, Monthly Financials: June 2015, next board meeting: August 19th, Bonus: board meetings AND CBOC meetings listed through June 2016, Grade: A+

Prestige Academy– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: May 2015, CBOC Meetings: no, CBOC Minutes: none listed, website only shows members of CBOC, Monthly Financials: April 2015, next board meeting: none listed, shows meets 3rd Tuesday of each month, Grade: F

Providence Creek Academy– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: June 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: April 2015, Monthly Financials: June 2015, next board meeting: August 25th, Bonus: does have all future board meetings through June 2016 on school calendar, Grade: A+

Sussex Academy– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: May 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: May 2015, Monthly Financials: February 2015, next board meeting: September 16th (no meetings in July or August), Grade: C

Thomas Edison Charter– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: June 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: June 2015, Monthly Financials: June 2015, next board meeting: August 17th, Bonus: Has all board meetings listed through June 2016, Grade A+

There you have it.  The Exceptional Delaware July 2015 Charter School Compliance and Transparency Report.  8 out of 22 need to do some serious damage control quick.  Because once DOE Jenny (as Kilroy calls her) reads this report, she’s going to have some serious questions for some of you!

Oh, I forgot one thing.  The quote up above will be shown later today as part of another article.  Because even though that school wants to forget about the past year, the past is knocking on their door!  More later!

People I Can Text, Email, Or FB Message After 10 PM, And They Will Generally Get Back To Me Immediately List

In response to my article earlier today about those who don’t always respond to me, this was requested by one of the members of this honorary list with this very specific title and another one asked that I do something like this anyways:

Delaware State Rep. Trey Paradee

John Young

Executive Director of the Charter School Office at the Delaware Department of Education Jennifer Nagourney

Updated: And State Rep. Kim Williams!!!!

Updated Four Days Later: And Liz Paige as well!

Who will be next to come out of the woodwork wanting credit on here?

Odyssey Charter School Having Huge Problems, Spent $700,000 Over Budget This Year

It looks like Odyssey Charter School is having some pretty major financial problems in Delaware.   Following many other charters in the past couple years, Odyssey somehow managed to spend $700,000 over their budget this year.

Some highlights from the below board meeting minutes from 5/13/15:

-They spelled “Public” wrong…

-This school continues to run their board meetings like a corporate board meeting and very little is discussed about actual academics at the school, in fact the word “student” is never even mentioned…

-Jennifer Nagourney from the Delaware DOE Charter School Office attended the meeting and reminded the board to make sure they are following FOIA regulations, she also asked the board to give her good news about the school so she can report it to the State Board of Education…

-The board told the administration they need to look at cutting all expenses…

What was the deal with Headmaster Nick Manolakos unbudgeted salary change?  It was rumored he was looking to leave last winter and that he applied for the Providence Creek Academy Principal position.

Could Odyssey be one of the four unmentioned Delaware charter schools being investigated at the State Auditor office?

Academy of Dover In Serious Trouble Over Noel Rodriguez’ P-Card Splurges & The Schools $2 Million Dollar+ Judgment

Academy of Dover was placed on Formal Review by the Delaware State Board of Education last Thursday, April 16th.  According to the Delaware Charter School Accountability Committee, the reasons for the request were in regards to potential financial mismanagement and academic performance.  It was added the school is in the process of ongoing litigation, which they would not reveal in the meeting nor in a group with the media afterwards what this litigation was in regards to.  However, after some digging, I have found out the reason why.

But first, let’s take a look at the transcription from the State Board of Education’s decision last week: Continue reading

Delaware General Assembly May Produce Bill To Ban Charter Enrollment Preferences

“I don’t know how much longer we can talk about the high-performing charter sector if there’s an asterisk next to some of them” because of the preferences, she (Jennifer Nagourney) says.

Jaques says the House Education Committee may consider legislation this spring to remove preferences from the admissions process.”

According to this article from Larry Nagengast on WDDE, the 148th General Assembly may see a bill introduced to get rid of charter school enrollment preferences in Delaware.  Discussion in the article was around the whole charter school environment in Delaware, but this shocker towards the end caused my jaw to drop.

I think it’s great that Jennifer Nagourney with the Charter School Office at the Delaware Department of Education is taking a hard look at the reality of charters in Delaware, specifically Wilmington.  With a pending ACLU complaint being looked at by the US DOE’s Office of Civil Rights, as well as clarification from a leading national charter school organization, the writing is on the wall.

At the last meeting of the Enrollment Preference Task Force, which stemmed out of House Bill 90, Alex Medler with the National Association of Charter School Authorizers told the task force any specific interest enrollment preference should only be used if it would allow needed students into the school, i.e. low-income, minority, special needs, etc.

Finally, Delaware State Rep. Earl Jaques says something that makes sense!  One thing is for sure, this would change the conversation about choice in Delaware.

To read the full article, please go here:

http://www.wdde.org/74292-charter-schools-1

Freire Wants To Get Rid Of Specific Interest As Well Due To Non-Compliance With Federal Regulations

Early College High School isn’t the only Delaware charter school that has submitted a major modification request with the Delaware Department of Education to remove specific interest as an enrollment preference.  Freire, scheduled to open in the 2015-2016 academic year, is also requesting this.

Once again, the Charter School Accountability Committee asked a charter school for a copy of the Federal Guidance (posted yesterday in the article before this one).  Is the Delaware DOE not aware of this?  How could they not be?  The National Association of Charter School Authorizers had a presentation with the Delaware State Board of Education earlier this month and they were scheduled to present to the Enrollment Task Force but that meeting was canceled due to inclement weather.

At the Delaware State Board of Education meeting on 2/19/14, during the Charter School Review presentation by the Director of Charter Schools, Jennifer Nagourney, the subject of the modification requests for both schools came up.  She did acknowledge both schools want compliance with Federal Guidance based on applying for Federal start-up grants, but nothing was discussed about this enrollment preference practice in Delaware or the wisdom behind continuing this in light of Federal guidance which suggests otherwise.

To listen to this part of the State Board of Education meeting, please go here: http://dedoe.schoolwires.net/site/default.aspx?PageType=3&ModuleInstanceID=4240&ViewID=E324842B-E4A3-44C3-991A-1E716D4A99E3&RenderLoc=0&FlexDataID=13013&PageID=1770

Say What? Sean Moore and Dr. Brewington Want Their Jobs Back at Family Foundations Academy

In the initial formal review report for Family Foundations Academy, there was a brief notation on the former heads of school, Sean Moore and Dr. Tennell Brewington.  Despite allegations of fraud and embezzlement, as well as a report sent to the Attorney General’s office, they have appealed to get their jobs back.  Yes, you heard that right.  I’m sure it will happen, as sure as I am that Republicans will win every seat in the House and Senate in Delaware in the next election!

There are many very interesting tidbits to read in this report, but two notable absences not mentioned in the report are Monique Dolcy from FFA and Charter School Accountability Committee member Chuck Taylor.

 

More Family Foundations Complaints Sent To The DE DOE Charter School Office & State Board

Special thanks to Kilroys for getting this damning information about Family Foundations out to the public (DOE should have first).  The DOE Charter School Office and State Board have been the recipient of numerous complaints in regards to this charter school.  For the past two years, it has been a litany of complaints about teachers, administration and students regarding matters of sexual harassment, bullying, discipline, use of P-cards for personal use and so much more.  It’s all in here:

Why is the public first hearing about all of this now?  Why does it take Kilroy (who is awesome by the way) to release it before the DOE takes any action?  And you renewed their charter, knowing this entire history?  And Gateway, a school for special needs children, gets stabbed in the back by the Charter School Accountability Committee over test scores while you sit there knowing all these laws are being broken over at Family Foundations?  Are you out of your damn minds?  What’s it going to take DOE, huh?  In your quest for charter domination in Delaware, you have spit on the very foundation of education itself.  I can see several people that need to be removed immediately, starting with Mark Murphy himself.

It appears several of these items were sent to other organizations within Delaware’s government structure as well, including the Governor’s office.  Matthew Albright from the News Journal, why haven’t you or your paper written about any of this?  Your paper has never received one complaint from a parent at this school?  It’s like Animal House over there.