Jennifer Nagourney Leaving Delaware DOE

Jennifer Nagourney

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!

New York City Parents File Class Action Lawsuit Against NYC Department of Education

Transition after Secondary Schooling

NBC Channel 4 News in New York City announced 16 families have filed a class action lawsuit against the New York City Department of Education for failure to provide transitional services for students with disabilities.

State and Federal law require transition services be a part of a student’s IEP in high school.  This helps the special needs student to adjust to life after high school.  This could include vocational training which requires a vocational assessment.  The families allege the NYC DOE never provided even an option for these services in the students’ IEPs.

According to the link, found here, the DOE didn’t allow for these students to be given these services which are mandated.  When the suit was filed yesterday in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District the one student and his parents went on the news to discuss the suit.  Gary Mayerson, the attorney who filed the lawsuit, believes these services may have been denied to “tens of thousands of students”.

The NYC DOE responded as follows:

“The DOE is committed to providing the services our students need to thrive in and out of the classroom, and we are working with this school and the student’s family to ensure that we provide the student with appropriate services.”

This lawsuit could have tremendous impact on special education not only in NYC but potentially across the country.  Recent laws passed by the Federal Government have disallowed the use of companies paying anything less than minimum wage to persons with disabilities.