Central DE School Of The Arts For The Exceptional: New Charter School for High-Functioning Autism in Kent County? @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @Apl_Jax @RCEAPrez @ecpaige @nannyfat @DelawareBats @DeDeptofEd #netde #eduDE #edchat #Delaware

I was on Facebook and noticed a page by a proposed charter school called Central DE School Of The Arts For The Exceptional.  I went to their page, and found the following:

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Charter school offering fine and performing arts curriculum, plus specialized programming for students with high functioning autism. Program will include education and related services from qualified educators and clinicians from a team approach in a true inclusive environment. Related services will also include family and peer training, as well as sibshops for siblings of students on the spectrum, which will foster growth in every student both in school and outside of school.

So we had our first official Board Meeting yesterday and I have to say thank you to our members who were able to make it. We are in the process of revising our bylaws so we can submit our application for nonprofit status…lots of great feedback was given and I cant wait to finish this part and move forward on the fun stuff!

Looked at their curriculum and it looks like like we’ll be modeling a lot of it at our school school! ABA isn’t just for autism, which is why it’s so successful. Just one -very large- piece off the puzzle.  http://blog.theautismsite.com/new-arizona-autism-charter-school/?utm_source=social

The holidays are quickly approaching and there is so much to do! How will you be spending your holidays? If you are looking for a way to get involved, please message me!   We are currently looking for 1-3 board members who are willing to get involved, are passionate about inclusive education, and who want to offer a new, innovate way to broaden Kent County’s horizons. Join us in making a difference for our community!

Now this is actually a charter school, if done right, I could support.  While my views against charters are well-known, I do find schools like Positive Outcomes and Gateway are very beneficial for students in Delaware.  What makes schools like this stand out is the enrollment preference is a given: students with disabilities.  To be able to attend, you would have to fit this criteria.  There is no smokescreen, or confusing wording.  It is what it is.

I did a Google search on the proposed school, and I found the person trying to get this school going, Tyler Anaya.  She worked for Autism Delaware recently.  I do have some questions about this.  Who is already on the board?  Where is a proposed location?  Would they be working with the Delaware Autism Program?  (who I have heard is running out of funding at a massive rate)  Is this school exclusively for children on the Autism spectrum, or would other students with disabilities that are high-functioning status be able to attend?  I would have to think the funding for a school of this sort would have to be very large given the services these children would need.  I will certainly be reaching out to Tyler Anaya to get more information.

Horrible Special Education & Discrimination in Charter Schools isn’t just a Delaware thing, USA Snapshot #netde #eduDE @delaware_gov

Delaware charters have become well known for being very bad at accommodating children with special needs.  It’s not all of them, but the bulk of them have a very hard time giving children what is required by federal law.  Recently, Kendall Massett, the executive director for the Delaware Charter School Network, wrote an article on a Delaware blog asking parents to tell why charters are so great.  To get the word out about why parents should choice their children to charters.  She also talked about how her organization wants to get more charters in Delaware’s other two counties, Kent and Sussex.  No thank you, Kendall.  We have more than enough.  Until your “great” charters fully follow the law, I don’t want to hear about MORE charters in Delaware.

To be fair though, I decided to see if this is just a Delaware issue.  It’s not.  It’s all over the country.  New York, Texas, Florida, Louisiana, and more.  I went through different search sites, and found an overwhelming amount of links.  All I put in was “charter schools not accommodating special needs”, and they appeared.  I’m going to put several links up, and I encourage every special needs parent and non-special needs parent around the country to pass the word around about America’s charter schools!

Included in these articles are special education issues, as well as numerous other tactics and illegal activities America’s charter schools have accomplished in their 18 year existence.  Well done charters!

Massachusetts: http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/07/13/charter-school-battle-erodes-middle-ground/ehBkNEg8rtplHN1Gta18CK/comments.html?p1=ArticleTab_Comments_ Continue reading

Special Education Statistics Part III: Kent County Publics vs Charters #netde #eduDE @delaware_gov

Kent County is a unique place.  It is considered part of “slower lower”, but the capital of the state is in Dover.  All the major decisions about the state occur here, even though the majority of the population lives in Newcastle County.  The schools in Kent County are also unique.

Seven school districts are in Kent County.  Capital, Caesar Rodney, Lake Forest, and Polytech are all within the borders of Kent County.  Smyrna overlaps into Newcastle County, while Woodbridge and Milford share district space with both Kent and Sussex .  There are only four charter schools in Kent County: Academy of Dover, Campus Community, Providence Creek and Positive Outcomes.  Of the four charters, their special education population is as follows:

Academy of Dover: 8.4% (26 out of 308)

Campus Community School: 9% (37 out of 411)

Providence Creek Academy: 4.4% (31 out of 697)

Positive Outcomes: 63.3% (76 out of 120)

Positive Outcomes is the exception to the rule when it comes to special education in Delaware.  The school primarily serves students with special needs and behavior issues, so it is no surprise they would fully accommodate in those situations.  The other three…that’s different.  Both Academy of Dover and Campus Community have a high percentage of lower income and African-American students, so in that aspect, it doesn’t appear charter school enrollment preference affects income or race.  But with a state average of 13.5-13.9% for special education, those numbers are much lower than their public school peers.  So where are all the special needs children going?  Certainly not Polytech, a vocational high school (the only school in that district).  Their average is 9.3% (112 out of 1,206).  So this would leave the public schools to deal with this student population.

Caesar Rodney: 13.6% (1,046 out of 7,677)

Capital: 17% (997 out of 6,442)

Lake Forest: 13% (479 out of 3,687)

Milford: 12.3% (507 out of 4,168)

Smyrna: 13.5% (697 out of 5,163)

I’m not going to include Woodbridge since most of the school district is within Sussex County.

So we can definitely see the public schools are taking in much higher populations of special needs children than the charter schools in the area.  Why is this?  Pretty much the same answer as the rest of the charters in the state.  They don’t want them.  This is why they put sections on their applications  with questions like “Does your child have an IEP” or “Does your child have any special education needs”.  They want to weed them out.  Not including Positive Outcomes obviously, the other three charter schools have a total of  7 complex special education students, and they are all at Academy of Dover.  Both Campus Community and Providence Creek Academy have NONE.  I guess autistic children aren’t welcome there.  What does FAPE stand for again?

Smyrna School District seems to take the bulk of special needs children in the area.  The majority of students that go to Providence Creek reside in Smyrna, and then Capital.  Since Providence Creek can only accommodate 26 special needs students, but the other 671 are “normal”, that must be an acceptable sacrifice for them.  But hey, they should feel lucky.  Their special education population actually went down from 4.7% in 2013 to 4.4% in 2014.  Less burden for them.

Further south in Kent County are the  Caesar Rodney, Milford and Lake Forest districts.  Some children from there go to the charters in Kent County, but the further south you go the less likely this is.  Their special education numbers seem to be near the state average.

Capital School District’s special education numbers are much higher than everyone else.  They also have the Kent County Community School, which serves the Delaware Autistic Program (DAP) for autistic students in grades K-12.

No new charter schools have opened in Kent County in many, many years, and that’s probably a good thing.  I wouldn’t mind at all if Positive Outcomes opened a K-6 school.  Maybe they can take over one of the other schools.  In the meantime, parents of Kent County, I would be very wary about sending any special needs child to a charter school in Dover, unless it is Positive Outcomes.  I have heard from parents who let one or two of their kids stay at a charter school but they send their special needs child to a public school.  This must be a huge pain in the ass for these families.  The charter school should be more than capable of handling a special needs child.  The big lingering question is this- why aren’t they?