Rumors began circulating in the fall that Las Americas ASPIRA Academy would be submitting a major modification request to add high school grades. What I didn’t count on were the huge amount of fallacies and grandiose boasting within the application itself. Continue reading
As rumors circulate, some by an employee that was put on leave weeks ago, about what caused Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security to shut down, the truth is out there. Continue reading
Sources from the meeting at Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security tonight are saying the Delaware charter school is shut down effective immediately. Students have to find a new school to go to tomorrow.
Herb Sheldon and his ghost enrollments assuredly played a factor. I can’t begin to stress how crazy this is. He screwed over this school and now all the students will pay the price.
I’m sorry, but the Delaware Department of Education had to have some sense of how bad this was and the State Board of Education should have shut them down effective the end of the last school year. At least that way students and families could have found new schools. Instead, we have this.
I know folks tried to turn this ship around but it already hit the iceberg years ago. I also feel bad for the staff who are unemployed as of tomorrow. This has to hurt. I know I wrote a ton about this the past year. I really did hope they could turn it around.
Updated, 3:15pm: The meeting at 7pm tonight is a regular meeting for parents. But the DAPSS’ board is meeting from 5-7pm where they are expected to go into executive session. Here is the deal though- if more than half of those board members stick around for the parent meeting, it MUST be declared a public meeting and they MUST put up an agenda for it. Circumstances do allow for special or emergency board meetings, but they have to call it such and follow the appropriate steps.
Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security is holding a special board meeting tonight. They are inviting all parents and students to attend. That isn’t normal. What is the crisis at the charter school now? Continue reading
As of Thursday, August 30th, Director of Operations Herb Sheldon has been placed on leave until further notice at Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security. The notice to staff did not indicate whether it is a paid or an unpaid leave. Continue reading
I always wondered why the Delaware Department of Education went into Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security last December to do an emergency student count. It turns out the DOE found out they were fooled and were not happy about it. You see, DAPSS didn’t lose a lot of students. They were counting ones they never had. Continue reading
I had to listen to that part of their board audio recording five times to make sure what I heard was right. Newly crowned Head of School for Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security, Margie Lopez-Waite, at their July 18th board meeting, openly and publicly talked about getting private student information from other Delaware charter schools. How is she going to do this? Continue reading
After waiting an extra ten days to put up the audio of their June board meeting, the future of the Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security is once again in doubt. Immediately into their board meeting, Margie Lopez-Waite resigned as President of their board and was than voted into the new Head of School position. Continue reading
A few days ago I put an article up about petty cash abuse in our districts and charter schools. No state agency has yet to give an official response even though they are all well aware of the article at this point. I’m fairly sure if there were an investigation that came out of this the last person they would tell is me.
The interesting snafu in all this is Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security. They are already on probation from their formal review. While not using a petty cash for fun time at the school is not a condition of their probation, the fact that money was used for fun time and who knows what else is a concern. I’ve heard lots of tales about how that money was used. An auditor would have a field day with this.
Like I said, I’m not too concerned with the folks who did it once or twice. Those can be explained. In fact, one school district made it a point to contact me. It is the chronic offenders I take issue with. Most especially the two that got a letter from Tom Wagner less than two years ago saying “Don’t do it”. No one should be doing it to begin with but when you get a letter like that and essentially flip the bird and do the same thing all over again, I have ZERO respect for you. Sounds like Sam Paoli has more on his plate than just CSW teachers joining the union!
I was really hoping Margie Lopez Waite and the board at DAPSS would act on this immediately. But no, when I go to the DAPSS website I see the SAME person on there who was behind the school’s petty cash splurging. On the taxpayer’s dime. I don’t mind paying taxes so kids can get an education. But I take a very serious affront to school leaders who want to break the rules and treat state money like it is their own piggy bank to play with. Yes, I’m talking about you Herb Sheldon. Margie acted lightning fast last Winter in getting someone off the school website. But I guess playing with school funding is an okay. Gotcha! I understand now!
Will anyone in the state actually do more on this issue than send more letters saying “Don’t do this”? When does REAL accountability start happening?
Will a Wilmington charter school become embroiled in the ongoing saga of Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security and Las Americas ASPIRA Academy? Many are saying yes. Continue reading
Attention, attention! Hear ye, hear ye! Let it be known throughout the land that the Delaware Department of Education will be taking part of a question and answer session with parents of the Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security tomorrow night at the school! Also attending will be Principal Herbert Sheldon and Director of Public Safety David Wainwright. You know, the two guys who were given their walking papers last week. The soon-to-be leaving Denise Stouffer who runs the Charter School Office will also be attending this once in a lifetime (literally because she is leaving the DOE at the end of this fiscal year to run Providence Creek Academy) event. If you didn’t get your parent letter about this, the meeting starts at 6pm in the all-purpose room of the school.
So what is on the agenda? As per their website:
The Academy’s vision and mission is not changing
DAPSS is not becoming ASPIRA High School
Personnel changes were due to enrollment, budget, and certification requirements
Personnel committee has been formed and is actively working to provide insight and will release public report on or about May 24, 2018
Rumor has it Board President Margie Lopez-Waite will not be in attendance. Which, if true, is certainly interesting. Especially since the reasons for this meeting are based on changes she began. I would think she would attend, but perhaps she has to recover from their board meeting last week. I did check the Las Americas ASPIRAS website and I do not see anything scheduled for tomorrow evening which would prevent her from attending. Their board meeting is on Thursday. But it does look like the Smarter Balanced Assessment will be given to students all week long. I’ve always loved how many charter schools get to take it later in the year when the students have more instruction towards the tests. But I digress.
So why is Denise Stouffer going in Margie’s stead? Beats me. Is she also on the personnel committee that will get so much insight in a week? I did hear she went to the school last week and talked to students and told them not to believe the horrible and nasty lies on the web. In other words, all those social media posts and this very blog. Denise and I have a history. A weird one. Not the easiest person to get a straight answer from. So good luck with THAT tomorrow night DAPSS parents! Not sure what would be more important for Margie that she wouldn’t squeeze this into her schedule. It could be personal, but since she created this pony show I would think DAPSS would hold it on Tuesday or Wednesday night. But what do I know? I’m just a damn blogger.
Come one, come all.
I just saw a video of the entire Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security board meeting from this evening. Since I’m the only blog (or media at this point) really writing about DAPSS these days, I feel it is safe to assume Board President Margie Lopez-Waite was talking about “the blog”. But an even bigger question is where the Delaware Charter School Network was? Isn’t their job to support charter schools? Where was Kendall Massett?
Margie did all the talking for the entire board. She played a game of bait and switch with the members of the audience. On one hand, she said she became the “scapegoat” for the slew of termination notices that went out Monday. She said Head of School Herb Sheldon played a direct role in that. She is trying to make it sound like those were his decisions to make and carry out. But then, on the other hand, she has the board pass a motion to revisit those terminations. She said, “A school can’t function if we don’t let the leaders lead”. But she is attempting to play to the crowd.
In terms of the DAPSS programs going away, Margie said emphatically they are not going away. But she said several times she wants to essentially marry DAPSS and her long-term goal of having an ASPIRA high school. That is her vision. No one else is screaming for that vision. Do not let her fool you. She saw an opportunity and struck.
“When I look in the mirror, I know who I am…And I hope that one day you guys learn the person I am. Cause I have no agenda here. I have no motivation other than helping children. So you can read all you want on the blog. You can get your information from those sources but they’re all completely wrong. That person doesn’t know me. They are just trying to feed you information. “
You are absolutely right Margie. I don’t know you. I’ve seen you a handful of times prior to your involvement in DAPSS. I’ve never written about anything big at ASPIRA as I have other Delaware charter schools. But what you seem to forget is the nature of this blog. I don’t pull stuff out of the air. It comes to me. From multiple sources. If I have nothing to write about, I don’t write. Plain and simple. And yes, I am trying to feed information. What is the purpose of this blog if it isn’t to inform? I don’t get paid. I could care less if 10 people read this or 5,000. I’m just getting it out there because once upon a time I needed information. Guess where I found a lot of it? Not in mainstream media articles. I found it on blogs. From people that were there. From comments on blogs. From what I heard, YOU didn’t know a lot of the staff that were fired the other day either. In fact, one staff member pointed out how you had never once said hello to him during your many visits to the school.
You said that less than 20% of the teachers were cut. But at the same time you said other teachers “resigned” because they weren’t able to take alternative positions. When you tell a full-time teacher they have to become a part-time teacher and they can’t afford that, you aren’t offering them an opportunity. You are basically saying “you mean nothing but I don’t have the guts to just come out and fire you so I’ll let you quit first.” Which, in my opinion, is extremely scummy. So if those people are getting the “demote or leave” slip, what does the percentage come out to factoring that in Margie? I get the financial perspective and sometimes there is fat to be trimmed. But we both know this was more than that. Don’t try to downplay it at a board meeting. Say those numbers in public including staff members.
You sit there and say you have no agenda or motivation while at the same time you are telling people who were just screaming at you that you want to merge DAPSS with your ASPIRA high school. You say you don’t want to interfere with the Head of School but you effectively took over the board, got folks who you KNOW will vote with you (hello Joanne Schlossberg from Newark Charter School), and all of a sudden pink slips are going out left and right. You talked about the Charter School Accountability Committee meetings and how you wished folks came down to Dover. I did. I was there. I heard you say you were going to make tough decisions people were not going to like. Not the board. Not the Head of School. But you. Not once did I hear a damn thing about your plan to merge DAPSS and this ASPIRA high school. I heard the rumors that you have always wanted that. Nor did you mention this HUGE need to have Spanish and Chinese programs at DAPSS. So don’t try to spin this as if you are some scapegoat. You initiated all of this. Like you are the damn superhero that “saved the school”. You didn’t save anything. You are an opportunist who saw a chance to get your precious dual language high school on the cheap without just doing it yourself. And you pissed off a ton of people along the way. I don’t need to know you. I need to listen, and hear, and report. You also don’t know me. Nor have you ever made a point to. And I’m okay with that.
As for the part where she started conversing with a parent DURING public comment IN SPANISH, that happened when the father stated he was Puerto Rican like her. She began speaking in Spanish to him but he shot her down and explained that even though he knows the language he speaks English in his house and his kids do as well. He said Spanish is NOT the most important language in the world. But when folks are complaining about having dual language programs at their school, that probably isn’t the best time to start talking in Spanish during a board meeting when someone else is giving public comment. The fact I have to point this out speaks volumes!
Lopez-Waite listened to what parents had to say. She took the jabs and expressed her opinions about them. But never once did she say anything about reconsidering HER vision for an ASPIRA high school. Even though the parents, former students, and current students loudly said they didn’t want the current programming diluted by HER vision. When you fail to truly listen and act on what you are hearing, by ignoring the will of the people (and that audience was the DAPSS family), you disrespect them.
Did DAPSS need changes? Well, yeah, they were under formal review and about to get shut down. The only thing that shocked me about all that is how long it took the Delaware DOE to initiate that formal review. But Lopez-Waite came in like a bear and wanted to tear the camp apart. And she did. Take responsibility for your actions. Own them. Be accountable. That’s what we want our students to learn. But when the adults can’t do it, how the hell do you think the students will?
When you have a “vision”, it is often a coin toss. If you fail to see the other side of the coin, you can’t be shocked when that coin comes up tails. That’s exactly what happened with Margie Lopez-Waite tonight. She underestimated parents, staff, and students. She assumed it was the same crowd she has at ASPIRA. It backfired big time! With this crowd, you wouldn’t dare pull your next move, which was to make yourself Head of School at DAPSS. They would have fileted you alive and you knew it. Which was why the board meeting was cut short before you could even get through the agenda.
And once more, for the record, where’s Kendall?
At the Delaware Academy of Safety & Security board meeting going on now, parents are screaming at Margie Lopez-Waite and students are crying. They are very upset with her about the mass termination of anywhere from 2/3 to 3/4 of the staff on Monday. They are also very pissed at her about her plans to turns DAPSS into a type of ASPIRA High School. Continue reading
Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security will have a new Director of Instruction as of July 1st. Deborah Panchisin resigned as an Executive Director of Instruction at Appoquinimink School District last month, effective July 1st. Greg Panchisin is the Chief Operating Officer at Las Americas ASPIRA Academy. Greg and Deborah Panchisin are married. Margie Lopez-Waite is the Head of School at Las Americas ASPIRA. Margie Lopez-Waite is the current President of DAPSS’ board. Margie Lopez-Waite is slated to be the next Head of School at Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security. Margie Lopez-Waite proudly boasted of having someone lined up to take over the position of Director of Instruction a few months ago at a Charter School Accountability Committee meeting when DAPSS was under formal review.
This is what happens when anyone is allowed to insert themselves into a leadership role at a charter school. They cause chaos and use personal connections to hire who they want and who cares if it is a very personal connection. Because they are two different schools, it is not against the law. But it is certainly a manipulative and scummy move. Please continue to tell me this is “for the students”. Margie Lopez-Waite played the Charter School Accountability Committee and the State Board of Education. And Secretary Bunting. And they fell for it hook, line and sinker.
The Panchisins make a combined income of $245,000 in their current roles. Deborah Panchisin makes $136k at Appoquinimink. Greg Panchisin makes $109k at ASPIRA. Say she gets a pay cut for her role at DAPSS. They would still most likely be making a combined income well over $200k. I imagine that handling instruction for 200 students as opposed to many more at Appo would be less work. Less stress.
This is Delaware…
Stack the deck towards a power play and you often get what you want. That is the case with Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security. Tomorrow night they will hold their monthly board meeting. The rumor mill has it that Margie Lopez-Waite, the current President of their board, will resign as President and the board will vote her in as the Head of School. With that will assuredly come some type of financial incentive for Margie’s undying loyalty to the school (insert sarcasm here). Together with her salary at Las Americas ASPIRA, she will be making a pretty penny. Oh yeah, Delaware state code dictates you can get your pension based on your three highest years of salary. Something the soon to be departed Providence Creek Academy Head of School took full advantage of.
Here is the issue though. From what I hear, Margie doesn’t spend enough time at her current school. She has her trusted minions and followers who pretty much run the school. By her cut throat first and answer questions later tactics yesterday, she is stacking the staff deck at DAPSS to do the same thing. In essence, Margie Lopez-Waite is a power-hungry dictator who is completely running the school. Unless there is a mutiny, the Delaware DOE will let it happen. This is a classic power play on her part. But she may have shown her cards too early. I expect a huge crowd at their board meeting tomorrow night. She pissed off a lot of people. I would say I hope the Charter School Office at the Delaware DOE shows up, but their leader will be leaving them soon as she… wait for it… replaces Chuck Taylor at PCA. Perhaps it is time Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting actually took the reins on this and stopped Margie’s power trip and exposes it for what it really is.
Margie’s bloody coup is not new. We’ve seen other “leaders” throughout history do the same thing. We call them dictators. Tyrants. They don’t last in the annals of history. Eventually the people rise up and take back the power. This is my big issue with some of our Delaware charters. They are run by folks who tend to answer to the ruler of the school, not the other way around. Far too many of their board members, which are appointed, not elected, are meant to curry favor with said ruler. While commenters on my article from last night come to the plate in defense of Margie, I have yet to hear those commenters say anything about the lives Margie destroyed yesterday. About teachers and staff who came to work yesterday with a job and are now wondering how they will feed their families after June 30th. Even though Margie promised more training for them through Colonial.
Margie will take full advantage of Colonial’s relationship with Relay Graduate School and get cheap teachers for DAPSS. Relay is just another teacher-prep fast track program. They bounce around like kangaroos in the Outback, but they are fiercely loyal to their leaders. In other words, they are cheap puppets. Be careful what you wish for. You may get exactly what you want. It helps to have friends from high school help you get what you want, doesn’t it Margie?
Delaware Academy of Safety and Security will look very different next year. After surviving their formal review and getting their enrollment up to an acceptable level, the culling began today when 2/3rds of their staff AND Principal Herbert Sheldon got their walking papers. They will still be there until the end of the school year, but many aren’t happy.
The Dean of Students and Discipline, Dakevis Matthews…gone
Director of Public Safety, David Wainwright…gone
Operations Specialist, Lisa Flynn…gone
Office Manager, Tara Williams…gone
Behavior Interventionist (listed on their website as a Behavior Interventionalist), Marcus Bazemore…gone
The odd part is that Sheldon did the firings. But when he wouldn’t accept a lesser position, he was on the chopping block as well. We ALL know where these firings are coming from. That would be Board President Margie Lopez-Waite. A few months ago, she dropped their Academic Director, Erica Thomas, like a bag of hot potatoes after the school got reamed in their formal review meeting at the DOE. But if Margie is still involved in a year or so I would be shocked. And this is why charter schools need to be unionized. So this kind of bloodbath doesn’t happen. Many of the staff that were fired were directly responsible for getting their enrollment to where it needed to be. Their reward? This. So if you EVER want to be a teacher at ANY charter school Margie Lopez Waite is involved in, you might want to put body armor on your back so the knife doesn’t penetrate too deep.
And to think I actually congratulated Margie on DAPSS surviving their formal review… it’s going to take a lot of mouthwash for me to erase those words! Had I known THIS was what she planned, those words would have never come out of my mouth. You see, these are people’s lives here. Their jobs, their income, their security. What happened to all that extra training and support Colonial was going to give these teachers? Where are the new teachers going to come from? TFA? Relay? We all know Colonial has been boasting about their relationship with Relay. Not cool, not cool at all. For Margie… a school (even a charter school) is not the same as the banking world. DAPSS is not MBNA. You can’t run a school like a bank.
Three more charter schools. Two in New Castle County, one in Kent. One centers around Spanish language skills. Another is a special education theme. One originally began with a theme of zero tolerance with school discipline but changed its tune. One had a ruckus last fall when their school leader was placed on leave because he wanted more pay for teachers. Continue reading
At the Delaware Department of Education building in Dover, the Charter School Accountability Committee recommended Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security stay open for another school year with very stringent conditions. At that point, Colonial’s Board of Education could very well decide to take over their charter. Queen Margie once again made it all about her. But the discussion that reached this point was very intense. Much more information here than you will find in the Delaware DOE press release. Continue reading
I’ve seen some arrogant stuff from charter schools in my day but this one takes the cake! Separating herself from the rest of the Board of Directors, Margie Lopez-Waite must be thinking her name adds extra oomph to the struggling Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security. Yes, being a Chairperson or President of any school board does give you a certain amount of power and responsibilities, but to distance yourself from the other equal board members is not a good idea. It makes the rest of the Board look weak in comparison. I’ve seen many charters where the head of the Board calls the shots. The rest of the Board winds up becoming a rubber stamp.
For Queen Margie, she has gained absolute control at the school. Obviously they need something since they are on formal review but I would prefer like-minded people working together as opposed to this self-created hierarchy.
Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security came out with their response to the initial Charter School Accountability Committee meeting. We learned Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting turned down the school’s request to submit a major modification to reduce their numbers. That makes sense since you can’t do that when you are on formal review. The school also made an attempt to compare their test scores to area high schools and show they really aren’t that bad when you compare them like this.
Since their modification won’t happen, that means they can’t switch their location for this school year or even next school year if they remain open by that time. That means they have to renew their lease with Fatima, the church that holds the lease on their building. Given that the school is at least $184,000 in the hole, this spells trouble. My sense is they are deeper in the hole than suggested but they found a way to hide it. Even though THIS WAS DISCUSSED AT THEIR FIRST MEETING WITH CSAC.
We also learned their teaching staff has some glaring holes in it. Out of their eight core teachers, three are on emergency certificates, two are vacant positions, and one has an initial license. What does that mean? This school’s teaching population is not up to snuff. 75% of them are not fully certified teachers.
Does Herb Sheldon make $185,000 as Principal of this school? According to their proposed budget for the 2018-2019 school year, that’s what it looks like. I hardly think a school of 200 students needs a Principal making THAT much money. Especially since he has NO academic background aside from human resources at another charter school.
What disturbed me the most about this school was their attrition rate with special education students. If you look at the below graph, you can see the number of students with disabilities dropping considerably each year as they go on to their next grade. What happens to these students? Are they counseled out? Expelled? Or do parents just say enough is enough and pull them out? Where are these students going when they leave DAPSS? To other charters or back to their regular feeder pattern? For their Grade 9 that started last year, they were at 32.9% special education. This year, those students in 10th grade are at 0% special education. What happened to those 25 students on an IEP? Same with the 9th graders that started in 2014-2015. In two years, they went from 27 IEPs to 16 to none. For a school that boasts about being able to handle high-needs students, I’m not seeing it! To begin training on special education law at a state and federal level before the 2018-2019 school year does NOT show a commitment to these students. That training should be going on NOW!
I love how the school talks about all the programs brought about by their former Curriculum Director, Erica Thomas, who is no longer with the school. Way to take someone else’s work and make it your own!
To read the pitiful response from the school, please see below. To read the appendices mentioned in the report, please go here.
I heard the Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security Public Hearing the other night was off the hook, but I had no idea! Today, the Delaware Department of Education Charter School Office released the transcript of the hearing. Their Curriculum Director, Erica Thomas, went after school leadership over her many attempts to get a better curriculum going in the school but felt she was ultimately stymied in her efforts.
One criticism I received recently was that I am under-qualified to be the Director of Curriculum and Instruction — coming from someone who does not have a degree — a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and experience in various aspects above and beyond that within the educational community — I find this disrespectful because my efforts have been stymied by the lack of educational leadership at the Academy which before I arrived was filled with nepotism and cronyism.
Maybe if the Delaware DOE was paying attention they would have been able to catch that nepotism and cronyism. It wasn’t exactly a state secret on how bad this school was doing for many years, but the Delaware DOE turned a blind eye until they couldn’t. But I digress…
I came to this school and stepped up to the challenge to improve things for students. I was told I was going to be given autonomy to create changes. However, through Academy leadership, education best practices were secondary to maintaining personal relationships. Moreover, I was undermined and a culture of distrust and suspicion was created.
As mentioned in her testimony, Thomas came to the school in August of 2016. This was way after the school had low enrollment and proficiency issues. Any school turnaround takes time and doesn’t happen overnight.
I came in with a strategic plan implementing LF, Read 180, IXL, many other research-based practices that we’ve put in place, and we will give you in the CSAC rebuttal. I know the Academy is capable of doing a whole lot better than what the achievement scores show, but I was stymied in my implementation of a teaching/learning model through a series of professional development and professional learning communities.
It sounds to me like she was making a valiant effort to improve things. I’m surprised the school didn’t already have some of these key programs in the school already!
I came to the Academy to raise expectations. I came to the Academy with all of the greatest intentions. I still believe in the school and its mission. The students and staff deserve a whole lot better, but that starts at the very top. It has been made very clear to me that I am not the top. I have taken directives. I have finished tasks and I did as a good soldier would. That’s it.
Wow! Is that coming from new Board President Margie Lopez-Waite or the vastly under-qualified Head of School Herbert Sheldon? Or both? Lopez-Waite comes from the MBNA/Bank of America world. While she may have performed miracles at Las Americas ASPIRA Academy (or did she just cheerlead the school while others did all the work?), it sounds like she came into DAPSS wanting to run the show. She may be President of the Board but that does not give her the unilateral ability to do as she pleases. It sounds like the school tried to make Thomas the sacrificial lamb in this process. From everything I’ve seen and heard, it sounds like the biggest problem at the school is Sheldon himself!
I find it ironic that someone with an advanced degree in education with extensive knowledge of educational best practices is treated like this but their Head of School basically has a bookkeeping background at East Side Charter School. It doesn’t seem right. If charters are to ultimately survive, they need people with deep education backgrounds. I’m not sure what happened as a result of Thomas’ comments, but she no longer appears on the school website.
Meanwhile, I did receive my FOIA request back from Sheldon. All he sent was what already appears on the school’s website. So their huge deficit will have to be discovered another way.
The rest of the Public Hearing is below. Aside from Thomas’ controversial testimony (which also praised the school), the many public comments were in favor of the school and while many recognized the struggles of the school, it was also urged the State Board of Education keep them open. Towards the end, the Colonial bomb is dropped by a teacher. And a big thank you to the excellent transcriptionist at Wilcox & Fetzer who always do a great job with these Public Hearings!