Delaware Charters & Delaware DOE Looking To Make Changes Against Delaware Law! And Who Is “The Author”?

Incompetence seems to rule the Delaware DOE these days.

The Delaware Department of Education, Delaware Charter Schools, and the Delaware Charter Schools Network have been holding meetings this year to look at changing two areas of their annual Performance Framework.  The Financial and Organizational Frameworks are two sections that have been controversial for charter schools in the first state.  Some of the proposed changes are minor but some are very big.  One statement from the proposed draft for the organizational framework probably sums up what many of the charter schools feel when these things roll out each year:

In order to avoid penalizing charter schools for anything less than perfection, the authorizer will apply a reasonable interpretation of sufficiency that acknowledges attentiveness, prudent compliance, and generally sound stewardship.

Let’s get real here Delaware!  Unless a charter school falls apart like Delaware Met, Moyer, and Pencader, you aren’t going to see the DOE or even Red Clay doing a lot in terms of compliance on some of these issues.  Especially website maintenance.  Far too many charters have been raked over the coals by bloggers such as myself for not adhering to the law on tons of the requirements.  But when it comes time for the charter to renew or get a modification, or even get a formal review, those things are rarely mentioned in the conversation.  The State Board of Education rarely talks about any of that stuff.  But in my eye, they need to be perfect with those things.  The districts do as well (see: Indian River).

One of the biggest flaws in this new system pertains to board membership.  Delaware law clearly states:

At the time at which the school commences its instructional program and at all times thereafter, the board of directors must include a teacher from at least 1 of the charter schools operated by the board and at least 1 parent of a student enrolled in a charter school operated by the board;

With this new organizational framework, they are proposing to change Delaware code, without any regulation or legislation, by giving charters a 90 day window to fill the parent and teacher slot for their board membership.  This label in the framework would give the charter a “partially meets standard”.  You can’t partially follow the law.  You either do it or you don’t.  In this area, you are either “meets standard” or “does not meet standard”.  As well, they want to do the same thing with not posting minutes and financial information on their website, but this would have a 60 day window.  You can’t cherry-pick through state law.  If the law needs to change, lobby legislators to change it.  But you can’t do it through the Delaware DOE and the State Board of Education.  This Department continues to defy Delaware legislators.  It is the legislators duty to write the laws of this state, not the Charter School Office at the DOE.

The proposed financial framework would give charters some leeway when it comes to reporting requirements or how they submit financial information with the state.  Let me be the first to say ALL Delaware schools need to get some serious training on this.  The training exists, but everyone seems to do what they want with limited to no oversight.  There have to be uniform procedures and policies across the board for every charter and district in the state with absolutely no excuses.  Once again, it comes down to partially breaking the law.  A misnomer if I’ve ever heard one.  But even more important, there have to be very real consequences for those who violate financial laws in our state.  This is something I hope and pray the 149th General Assembly tackles when they come back in January.  Because right now, it’s a train wreck.

I will fully admit I sometimes feel bad for the charters.  Especially when it comes to the DOE’s constant nitpicking about things.  An organization filled with more non-educators in leadership roles that doesn’t seem to be able to tell the difference between a right and left hand most of the time.

charterframeworkrevisionstimeline

But the most egregious thing out of all this: the window for public comment begins on September 1st.  But try finding them anywhere.  Good luck with that!  I happened to find the below documents in the DOE search engine.  How can you say this is an open, transparent, and collaborative method when the public can’t even comment on what you are proposing?  Even worse, the State Board of Education won’t let you comment on any action item on their agenda.  This won’t come up for final action at a State Board of Education meeting until their October 20th meeting, but if these documents are never released to the public it will be highly illegal for the State Board to take action.

charterframeworktimeline2

The Delaware DOE Charter School Office needs to release these drafts to the public and let them comment on it.  These documents have not been posted on the DOE website.  Care to take a wild guess who is running the show on this?  If you said David Blowman, that would be correct on the surface.  Until they find a replacement for Jennifer Nagourney, who left the DOE on July 1st, Blowman is the guy in charge.  But in a very odd find, well, you’ll get the picture…

de-proposed-fincl-framework-authorship

de-proposed-organ-framework-authorship

How can Jennifer Nagourney be the author of the below documents when she is no longer an employee at the Delaware DOE?  Doesn’t she work in the Charter School Office at the New York City DOE now?  What in God’s name is David Blowman doing?  This is the same guy who has run the non-transparent local cost per pupil scam that has caused a “firestorm” in Delaware.  The same guy who went ahead and sent out changes to school districts and charter schools without the old Secretary of Education Seal of Approval?  And he is in charge of this hot mess?  Where charters seem to think it will be okay to partially follow the law?  With a guy like Blowman running the show no wonder they think they can do as they please!  And, it goes without saying, I’m sure the Sisters of Sin, Donna Johnson and Kendall Massett with the Delaware Charter Schools Network have their hands involved in this.  But Nagourney?  Unless you are getting paid for this work when you are no longer employed by the State of Delaware, why are you even involved at this point?  It’s not like I haven’t written about the old PDF right-click trick.  And you guys keep forgetting that essential thing!

At this point in time, our General Assembly needs to meet for emergency hearings and subpoena the hell out of the entire Delaware Department of Education.  Every single document in their system.  Every nook and cranny, from top to bottom.  The more than obvious fraud and lies coming out of this Department is readily available for anyone to see.  I’ve proved it over and over again.  But no one does anything about it.  It’s time.  You know it and I know it.  So stop making postures and just do it!

Below are the two proposed frameworks.  These are not approved, just in draft form.

Proposed Financial Framework

Proposed Organizational Framework

Del. Academy of Public Safety & Security Modification Shows An Out Of Control Delaware DOE

DAPSSEnrollmentFigures

The Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security submitted a major modification request to the Delaware Department of Education Charter School Office on December 10th.  They want to decrease their enrollment from their charter approved 480 students to 375 students, a reduction of 22%.  What makes this very interesting is the fact other charter schools in Delaware have been placed on formal review for not having 80% of their approved enrollment in their charter. DAPSS has not met their approved enrollment figures for the past two years.  The DOE looks at formal review status for charters if they fall below 80% of their approved enrollment based on the financial viability of the school.

According to the information submitted by DAPSS to the Charter School Office, their enrollment last year was 363, which put them at 76% of their approved enrollment.  This year, the school lost 60 students and currently stand at 303 students.  This is less than 64% of their approved enrollment.  My biggest question would be why they were not put on formal review last year or this year based on this information.  What is the point of having a state law if the Department of Education doesn’t feel like following it?  Are we at the point where the Delaware DOE is an independent entity, absolved of any accountability or self-regulation?

For their performance framework, the school was labeled as “Does Not Meet Standard” for their organizational framework three out of the last four academic years, in 11-12, 12-13, and 14-15.  For their financial framework, they were labeled as “Falls Far Below Standard” in 11-12, 13-14, and 14-15 and “Does Not Meet Standard” in 12-13.  Once again, they have not been placed on formal review for their very negative ratings on the State Board of Education approved Charter School Performance Framework.  Are charter schools exempt from accountability based on who runs the show at each charter?  I don’t think having charter schools submitting modification requests to make them compliant with the law is the way a Department should run things, in my opinion.

Based on the timeline, the Charter School Accountability Committee meetings start today leading to a State Board of Education decision at their March 17th meeting.  The meetings yesterday were canceled due to the inclement weather.

DAPSSModTimeline

Below is the official major modification application submitted by Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security as well as their projected budget based on an 80% enrollment.

DOE Releases Delaware Charter School Organizational and Financial Framework Reports

  • The Delaware Department of Education released the Financial and Organizations parts of the Delaware Charter School Performance Framework.  Because the State Board of Education has not voted on the new accountability structure called the Delaware School Success Framework, the Academic portion of the Performance Framework is not available yet.

For the most part, most of the charters did very well on these two parts.  One thing to keep in mind is the financial reports which do not give a clear indication of how charters are doing financially since it is based on their audit that deals with where the schools stands as of 6/30/15.  This does not take into account how much money they may receive in deposits the very next day.  As an example, when I read Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security it stated they were one day out in being able to pay bills.  This is where they were at on 6/30/15 but schools receive their funding after the start of the new fiscal year which occurs on July 1st of each year.

There were some things I want to point out.  Another important thing to remember is that this is only for the timeframe of July 1st, 2014 until June 30th, 2015.  So something like the State Auditor investigation into Delaware charters and their finding released in September of this year would not appear on these frameworks.  However, for a school like Academy of Dover and their financial issues, that was released in June 2015 so it does appear.  Some of the schools have already gone through a formal review, like Family Foundations Academy, and would not be able to have “double jeopardy” based on these reports unless new information was brought to light.

For those who have said the Charter School Office at the DOE doesn’t monitor things (of which I have been guilty), these reports show this is not the case in many areas. I was actually happy to see the high amount of bullying reporting violations because it does show someone is keeping track of these things. I wish these bullying incidents never happened but I have always said it needs to be monitored more closely. I have a sneaky suspicion more is going to come out on this soon and it is something the DOE may not even be aware of, but that is another matter. There were fairly consistent violations with many schools: the percentage of highly-qualified teachers, procurement card policies, and websites having all the correct information. As any reader of Kilroy’s Delaware and this blog are aware, we both keep track of those things often.

I have to give props to Jennifer Nagourney and her crew over there for the thoroughness in these reports. As I keep track of employees coming and going at the DOE, it looks like the charter school office actually lost an employee over the past year so their workload has to be even bigger. Whether that position went to fund the Race To The Top positions is another matter entirely, but I do know the people in this office work hard.  I’ll probably get crucified for this, but I would love to see the traditional school districts get monitored for some of this stuff, especially the bullying reporting.

Without further ado, here are the ratings for all the Delaware charters in Organizational and Financial aspects of their Performance Framework. I didn’t delve too much into the financial pictures for the above reasons. At the end is a link to all the charter reports and a sample of one so folks can see the new format which explains a lot of the reasoning for what is in the reports.

Academia Antonia Alonso

Organizational: Does Not Meet Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Did not submit payroll internal control plan to the Division of Accounting upon request
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to financial oversight were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included monthly financial statements, audited financial statements, Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) agendas, CBOC minutes, and CBOC notice.
  • FY15 Audit Results:
  • 2 material weaknesses (#2015-01 and #2015-02)
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to governance were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included Board of Directors meeting minutes and Board of Directors meeting agendas.
  • No evidence of completion of educator or administrator evaluations as required by law
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (21.4%)

Academy of Dover

Organizational: Does Not Meet Standard
Financial: Does Not Meet Standard

  • Misuse of funds by now-former School Leader identified by Delaware Auditor of Accounts in June 23, 2015 report:
  • Poor internal controls identified by Delaware Auditor of Accounts in June 23, 2015 report
  • Did not submit payroll internal control plan to Division of Accounting upon request
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to financial oversight were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included monthly financial statements, audited financial statements, Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) agendas, CBOC minutes, and CBOC meeting notices
  • FY15 Audit Results: Qualified opinion
  • 2 material weaknesses (#2014-003 and #2015-001)
    1 instance of noncompliance (#2015-001)
  • Non-compliance with State Employees’, Officers’, and Officials’ Code of Conduct by now-former School Principal
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to governance were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included Board of Directors meeting minutes, Board of Directors meeting agendas, and Board of Directors meeting notice
  • As noted in formal review, started year without accountability systems for school leader – put in place after school leader departed
  • Substantiated incident involving teacher violence against student
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (93.5%)

Campus Community

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (81.6%)

Charter School of Wilmington

Organizational: Not produced by DOE (Red Clay)
Financial: Meets Standard

Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security

Organizational: Does Not Meet Standard
Financial: Falls Far Below Standard

  • Promotion and graduation requirements not met, including scheduling and transcript verification
  • Attendance goal of 95% not met (90.6%)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (84.9%)

*Editor’s Note: While I am not focusing heavily on the financial portions of these, I do want to note this school has been rated Falls Far Below Standard in financial for FY12, FY14 and FY15 and was Does Not Meet in FY13.

Delaware College Prep

Organizational: Not produced by DOE (Red Clay)
Financial: Falls Far Below Standard

*Editor’s Note: Similar to the last school, DCP was Does Not Meet for financial in FY11 and FY12, and was Falls Far Below in FY13, FY14, and FY15

Delaware Military Academy

Organizational: Not produced by DOE (Red Clay)
Financial: Not ready yet

Early College High School

Organizational: Not Ready Yet
Financial: Not Ready Yet

EastSide Charter School

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Social Studies participation rate of 95% on state assessment not met (93.50%)
  • Children’s Internet Protection Act/E-Rate: Non-compliant Internet Safety Policy and Internet Safety Curriculum
  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance.
  • Division of Accounting review of payroll policies resulted in rating of “weak” (potential ratings include “strong,” “adequate,” “lacking,” or “weak”)
  • Alternative administrator evaluation framework not yet approved by the Department as required by 14 Del. C. § 1270(f)
  • Failure to record four substantiated incidents of bullying (since corrected)
  • Failure to post Delaware Department of Justice Ombudsman information to school website (since corrected)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (65.9%)

Family Foundations Academy

Organizational: Does Not Meet Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Misuse of funds by now-former school leaders during the reportable period
  • Division of Accounting review of payroll policies resulted in rating of “weak” (potential ratings include “strong,” “adequate,” “lacking,” or “weak
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to financial oversight were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included monthly financial statements, Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) agendas, and CBOC minutes
  • FY15 Audit Results: Qualified opinion on financial statements
    Adverse opinion on CFDA 84.010, Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies
    3 material weaknesses (#2015-01, #2015-02 and #2015-03)
    1 significant deficiency (#2015-04)
    2 instances of noncompliance (#2015-01 & #2015-04)
  • Note: Family Foundations Academy experienced near-complete turnover within its Board of Directors and school leadership team in January 2015, with additional changes made over the reporting period that resulted in significant changes to governance policies and procedures. The Organizational Framework Report includes data from the entire reporting period. In the development of this report and rating, the Department attempted to identify which areas of non-compliance can be attributable to individuals no longer associated with the school.
  • Non-compliance with State Employees’, Officers’, and Officials’ Code of Conduct by now-former school leaders during the reportable period; In response, charter school board implemented a new organizational chart, made staffing changes, and implemented new employee management policies
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to governance were not posted as required by code at multiple points until December 2014. These included Board of Directors meeting minutes, Board of Directors meeting agendas, and Board of Directors meeting notice
  • No evidence of completion of educator or administrator evaluations as required by law
  • Failure to post Delaware Department of Justice Ombudsman information to school website (since corrected)
    Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (85.9%)

First State Montessori Academy

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Did not submit payroll internal control plan to the Division of Accounting upon request
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to financial oversight were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period; these included monthly financial statements and Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) minutes (since corrected)
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to governance were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period; these included Board of Directors meeting minutes and Board of Directors meeting agendas (since corrected)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (78.6%)

Gateway Lab School

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Social Studies participation rate of 95% on state assessment not met (94.11%)
  • Use of PCard by school personnel absent prior approval from Division of Accounting following unanticipated change in personnel – no improper expenditures identified
  • Division of Accounting review of payroll policies resulted in rating of “weak” (potential ratings include “strong”, “adequate”, “lacking”, or “weak”.
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that monthly financial statements were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period (since corrected)
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that annual report was not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period (since corrected)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (86.0%)


Kuumba Academy

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to financial oversight were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included monthly financial statements, audited financial statements, Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) agendas, and CBOC minutes (since corrected)
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to governance were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included Board of Directors meeting minutes and Board of Directors meeting agendas
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that the charter school’s annual report was not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period
  • Reporting requirements – Failure to report discipline incidents (since corrected)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (59.6%)

Las Americas Aspiras

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Division of Accounting review of payroll policies resulted in rating of “lacking” (potential ratings include “strong,” “adequate,” “lacking,” or “weak.”)
  • Reporting requirements – failure to include a reason for bullying incident as required by 14 Del. C. §411D(b)(2)(k) (since corrected)

MOT Charter School

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance.
  • Division of Accounting review of payroll policies resulted in rating of “lacking” (potential ratings include “strong,” “adequate,” “lacking,” or “weak.”)
  • Reporting requirements – failure to include a reason for substantiated bullying incidents as required by 14 Del. C. § 411D(b)(2)(k) (since corrected)

Newark Charter School

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance.

Odyssey Charter School

Organizational: Does Not Meet Standard
Financial: Falls Far Below Standard

  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance.
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to financial oversight were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included monthly financial statements, Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) agendas, and CBOC minutes
  • CBOC did not operate as a distinct public body from Board of Directors until April 2015
  • CBOC meeting minutes from July 2014 to September 2014 mispresented as meetings of a distinct public body
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to governance were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included Board of Directors meeting minutes and Board of Directors meeting agendas.
  • Board of Directors meetings in December 2014 and January 2015 closed to the public
  • From July 2014 to January 2015, Board of Directors bylaws stated that an Executive Committee could meet in violation of Open Meeting Law meeting access, notice, agenda, and minutes requirements.

Positive Outcomes

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Social Studies participation rate of 95% on state assessment not met (90.00%)
  • Non-compliant with Title I, Part A: Schoolwide Plans
  • Non-compliant with Title II, Part A: Highly Qualified Teachers (HQT) and Highly Qualified Paraprofessionals (HQP)
  • Non-compliant with Perkins: Secondary Career and Technical Education (CTE)
  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance.
  • Division of Accounting review of payroll policies resulted in rating of “lacking” (potential ratings include “strong,” “adequate,” “lacking,” or “weak.”)
  • Reporting requirements – failure to include a reason for substantiated bullying incidents as required by 14 Del. C. § 4112D(b)(2)(k) (since corrected)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (84.1%)

Prestige Academy

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Falls Far Below Standard

  • Social Studies participation rate of 95% on state assessment not met (94.03%)
  • Education of Homeless Students – Did not provide budget upon request
  • Non-compliant PCard internal control policies (since corrected)
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to financial oversight were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included monthly financial statements, audited financial statements, Citizen Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) agendas, CBOC minutes, and CBOC meeting notice (since corrected)
  • Reporting requirements – failure to correctly report crimes as required by 14 Del. C. § 4112, and failure to code students as being placed in a Consortium Discipline Alternative Program as required by 14 DE Admin. C. 611.3.0 (since corrected)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (64.5%)

Providence Creek Academy

Organizational: Does Not Meet Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Division of Accounting review of payroll policies resulted in rating of “weak” (potential ratings include “strong,” “adequate,” “lacking,” or “weak.”)
  • FY15 Audit Results:
    4 material weaknesses (#2015-001, #2015-002, #2015-003, and #2015-004)
    1 instance of noncompliance (#2015-002)
  • Misuse of funds by now-former employee during the reportable period; upon discovery, the charter school reported concerns to State Auditor of Accounts and implemented new oversight policies
  • Non-compliance with State Employees’, Officers’, and Officials’ Code of Conduct; upon discovery, the charter school board implemented a new organizational chart, made staffing changes, and implemented new employee management policies
  • School leader evaluation not completed for 2014-15, due to October 2014 resignation of Board of Directors member trained in DPAS evaluation system and unavailability of training opportunities until Summer 2015; charter school reported that training was completed after the reporting period and the evaluation was in progress as of the date of publication of this report
  • Reporting requirements – failure to record a substantiated criminal violation by a staff member in eSchool as required by 14 Del. C. § 4112 (recorded September 2015) and failure to include a reason for substantiated bullying incidents as required by 14 Del. C. § 411D(b)(2)(k) (since corrected)
  • Highly-Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirement not met (85.5%)

Sussex Academy

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Non-compliant with Title II, Part A: HQT/HQP; Professional Development Activities; Budget vs. Expenditures
  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance.

Thomas Edison

Organizational: Meets Standard
Financial: Meets Standard

  • Children’s Internet Protection Act/E-Rate: Non-compliant Internet Safety Policy and Internet Safety Curriculum (since corrected)
  • Division of Accounting initial review of Pcard policies found one or more areas of non-compliance with state policies; revised policies were submitted and found to be in compliance.
  • Ongoing Charter School Office monitoring of the charter school’s website found that documents relating to governance were not posted as required by code at multiple points during the reporting period. These included Board of Directors meeting minutes and Board of Directors meeting agendas (since corrected)
  • E-Rate reporting (since corrected)
  • Reporting requirements – failure to include a reason for bullying incident as required by 14 Del. C. § 411D(b)(2)(k) (since corrected)

Sample Report:

Link To All The Reports

Rumors Swirling About Prestige Academy Closing In January 2016

I had heard a few rumors that Prestige Academy wouldn’t make it past this school year based on their academics and enrollment, but could it be even sooner than that?  Tonight, a commenter posted the following on my “Ask Dr. Godowsky a question post” from a few weeks ago:

Good evening sir, My son is in the eight grade at Prestige Academy and I look forward to him graduating from there. He’s been there since five grade. I feel if the State wants to close at school they should at least wait til the end of the school year instead of the middle. Think about the students that have worked hard to achieve their goals and look forward to graduating from a school they been at since 5th grade. This is the only all boy school in DE. Mr. Greenlea didn’t even get a chance to prove what he can do because of factors that have spread structured before he even came there. So as a parent that works with children as well, I say to you sir please look at the situation and over turn the matter of closing Prestige Academy at the end of year and give Prestige Academy the same time as Academy of Dover til next year. I welcome you and I thank you for listening.(REMEMBER ITS ABOUT THE CHILDREN)

I am very curious about this.  Will the next State Board of Education meeting have some type of announcement?  For their Smarter Balanced scores, the top proficiency ratings were both in 5th grade with 21% for ELA and 18% for math.  But the DOE has already stated they won’t judge schools based on the Smarter Balanced Assessment scores from the 2014-2015 school year.  So what could possibly cause them to shut down in January?  It could be their enrollment.  If the numbers are below 80% they will go on formal review very fast.  They are already on probation.  If they closed in the middle of the school year that would have to be a decision by the school board unless something very serious is going on there.

If anyone knows anything about this, or if any letter has gone home to parents, please let me know!  All the Delaware charters should have their performance frameworks coming out in the next couple weeks as well so perhaps something came up with that.  This school fell off my radar, but it looks like something could be going on there.

Delaware DOE To Form Working Group For Charter Schools & Organizational Framework

Move over AFWG, there’s a new, uhm, FWG coming to town!  The Delaware Charter School Office at the Delaware DOE looks like they are gearing to change the organizational part of the charter school Performance Framework.  This is mighty interesting, and I have to wonder how this came about.  Perhaps many of the events going on at some of the newer charters that opened this year?  Like Delaware Met, First State Military Academy, Freire, and Delaware Design Lab High School.  This could cover a lot of issues several Delaware charters go through, such as board transparency, charter heads of school going crazy with money, and leadership which is vitally needed at the newer charters.  Maybe Kilroy’s lifelong dream of having charters record their board meetings will come out of this!

Here’s the way I look at this: charters aren’t going anywhere and neither are traditional school districts.  Since charters are public schools but get more leeway for how they do things, they are also under the microscope more.  I’ve actually heard some charters say they would prefer more accountability so they can ensure they are doing the right thing and not wind up on formal review.  Charters in Delaware have had a few rough years, starting with Pencader.  I will have to assume these are going to be public meetings.  The last things charter schools in Delaware need are closed-door secret meetings.  If I know Jennifer Nagourney at the DOE, this will be very transparent.  She has done an excellent job with transparency of charters on the DOE website.

My suggestion?  They may not want to make this JUST charter related members.  Having the perspective of a traditional school district financial administrator, board member or superintendent could potentially help charters to see things in different ways they may not be used to.  And it would go a long way towards the charter-district collaboration that was discussed at the Vision Quest thing today.  Just my two cents!  Here comes the OFWG!

Call for Organizational Framework Working Group Members

The DDOE is convening a working group to review the Organizational component of the Performance Framework. The Organizational Framework Working Group (OFWG) will review the existing Organizational Framework against national models and requirements under Delaware law. The OFWG will also identify areas of potential further improvement and potentially make recommendations for future changes.  
Who We Are Looking For: A total of 10-12 participants from Delaware charter schools (may include school leaders, board members, administrators, parents, teachers, and community partners)
Time Commitment: A maximum of 6 3-hour meetings from November to February (exact times and dates to be determined when group formed)
Deadline to Express Interest in Participating: November 13 
How to Express Interest in Participating: Complete the form below:
Name *

  • E-mail *
  • Charter School *
  • Affiliation *

    Charter School Leader
    Board Member
    Charter School Staff
    Parent
    Community Partner
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  • Why do you think you would a good addition to the Organizational Framework Working Group?
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