Special Education, Burden of Proof, Parent Opt-Out, Lockdowns & Funding discussed at Capital School District Board Meeting #netde #eduDE

Capital School District

The Capital School District Board meeting last night touched on very recent topics affecting the state of education in not only the Capital School District, but also the state of Delaware.

Following up from a topic introduced last month at their board meeting, the Capital School Board is pushing for legislators in Delaware to look at Burden Of Proof during Due Process Hearings.  Capital’s stance is the burden of proof needs to be on the school’s side more.  One board member, Matthew Lindell, stated he feels this has shifted more towards the parent’s side, but the Delaware DOE appoints due process hearing officers and they are not partial to parents.  Lindell stated he would like to see a balance in the middle.

At the same time, Capital is looking for the state to increase special education funding which was reduced during the recession that began in 2008 and funds were never increased back to the normal rate.  They had a very long list of other areas where funding was reduced and want back to the previous level.

Updates on the new Dover High School by school principal, Dr. Evelyn Edney.  The top concern by the school as well as the public were traffic patterns.  The school has made changes in terms of signage and assigned parking to help ease the local strain for neighborhoods in the surrounding area.

Board member Lindell indicated he has spoken with other school boards in the state about the way the Delaware Department of Education has treated the priority schools situation in Red Clay Consolidated and Christina school districts.  Lindell indicated the basis for these decisions is test scores, but the DOE has been known to make errors in the past.  Lindell and Superintendent Dr. Thomas spoke about Capital’s graduation rates having many errors in the past, but once the DOE officially publishes these numbers it is difficult to fix.  Lindell indicated there is a lot of discussion about the Delaware DOE and the school boards need to make a firmer stance with them.

Lindell once again stated he wants parents to be able to have the choice to opt-out of standardized testing.  He stated that if special education parents have the choice, all parents should.  The only apparatus that allows students not to take the upcoming Smarter Balanced Assessment is the legislation passed through Senate Bill 229 in Delaware, which allows for the most severely complex special education students to have an alternate test.

Board member Sean Christensen discussed his feelings on the recent school lockdown in Capital School District when a person was shot in downtown Dover.  He felt parents should have been notified of the lockdown within minutes of the event.  Dr. Thomas explained social media knows about situations before the districts or schools have even been notified by police, resulting in hundreds of calls from parents to board members, the district, and schools.  He reiterated that no parent can enter a school during a lockdown, and no student or staff member is able to leave.  Board President Kay Dietz-Sass felt the schools and district handled the situation very well.  Dr. Thomas said discussion with the Dover Police Department about quicker notification could help ease concerns.

Another big topic was how organizations in the City of Dover have to pay high rents for usage of Capital schools.  Christensen did a comparison with other districts in the state, and found Capital charges higher rents than other districts.  He feels the district needs to give back to the community that allows them to have the buildings in the first place since taxpayers pay for these places.