Big Trouble At Gateway Charter! Executive Director Resigns At Board Meeting!

Tim Griffiths, the Executive Director of Gateway Lab School, resigned last Wednesday night at their board meeting.  The Wilmington charter school, which caters to students with disabilities and struggling students, has been up and down in terms of success over the years.

Griffiths’ resignation comes on the heels of their Board President, Nate Schwartz, resigning a few weeks ago.  The school is facing what many charters in New Castle County are going through these days- declining enrollment.  But Gateway is a school that has a particular niche.  Many parents chose Gateway because of that niche.  If enrollment is going down, that means a few things.  Either the districts and other charters are doing a better job with special education or Gateway is struggling in that area.

Because there was not a quorum of the board at their meeting last week, the board will meet this week to officially vote on accepting Griffiths’ resignation letter.

As of today, their board consists of Vice-President and Acting President Jon Fletcher, Treasurer Henry Clampitt, Community Director Geoff Grivner, Community Director Joyce Henderson, Teacher Director Drew Keohane, Parent Director Tina Horgan, and Community Director Kenyatta Austin.

Gateway made major news in Delaware in the Fall of 2014 when their charter renewal was in doubt.  Due to a groundswell of support from parents, legislators, and advocates for students with disabilities, their charter was renewed.  But enrollment was not an issue at that time.

The audio recording from their February 20th board meeting is not on their website as of this writing.

Donna Johnson on Jorge Melendez State Board Exit

Yesterday morning, I announced Delaware State Board of Education member Jorge Melendez was taken off the roll call for the board on their website. I reached out to Executive Director Donna Johnson for clarification on his exit. Late afternoon, I did receive a reply from Johnson who did let me know the reasoning behind Melendez’ exit.

Mr. Melendez submitted his resignation from the State Board to the Governor’s office. Mr. Melendez is moving out of state and would no longer be eligible to serve on the Board. As you are aware, the Governor brings forth nominations for the SBE to the State Senate for confirmation, just as is done with several other Boards. During this time when the General Assembly is out of session and the Governor’s administration is coming to an end, it is not uncommon for Governors to choose to leave a vacant seat open so that the next administration may appoint and the next State Senate may vote on confirmation. There are other boards facing this same situation right now and historically it is not an unusual occurrence. I do not have details about the nominations made during the special session on 10/13, but know there was not a nomination for a new member to the SBE made during that session. You would have to address the Governor’s office with respect to any details regarding their process in making this appointment.

Where there is smoke, there’s fire. But none here. Just someone moving on. Good luck to Mr. Melendez with his move and future endeavors in another state. And thank you to Donna Johnson for the response.