Despite Getting Ten Million Bucks From XQ, Delaware Design-Lab STILL Can’t Get Their Enrollment Up!

Delaware Design-Lab High School submitted a major modification application to the Delaware Department of Education Charter School Office to lower their enrollment again!  This time they want to lower their enrollment by 26%.

I admire their tenacity, but sometimes you just have to realize there are too many charter schools in Northern New Castle County!  I’m not saying they should give up but how long is this going to go on for?  By failing to capitalize on their million dollar prize from XQ, they allowed their enrollment to drop to unsustainable levels.  They just got a major modification approved two years ago to lower their enrollment and now they want to do it again.

They were supposed to be at 475 students this year.  That was lowered from 600 students in 2016.  Instead, they had 298.  There is a reason no new charter applications have come in for New Castle County in three years.  They couldn’t even get to their magic number of 380 students to be at 80% enrollment based on their September 30th count.  They should be on formal review.  They were before they even opened for low enrollment but they managed to squeak by.  The only reason they aren’t is because of their XQ Super School prize.  I’m sure they are planning to spend those funds wisely but if their aren’t enough students there, what’s the point?  Apparently ten million bucks can get you a great many things except for actual students.

The rumor mill in Philadelphia is hearing Design-Lab wants to expand to the City of Brotherly Love.  I wouldn’t call their original in The First State a resounding success if they can’t get the students.

In their application, the school has projected enrollment for the next four years.  Their numbers don’t make much sense.  As an example, they are looking to raise this year’s ninth graders (69) to 75 during their sophomore year.  But then that jumps to 85 their junior year (because so many students transfer out junior year- insert sarcasm here).  But then during their senior year, it dips back down to 75.  For freshmen next year, they are projecting 100 students for that year.  But that will drop down to 95 the next year.  But inexplicably, the next year’s freshmen are projected at 100 but their sophomore year they will drop down to 90.  I guess you have to make the numbers fit somehow.  This is a far cry from their original charter application which was approved with 600 students by year four.

To see the major modification application, please see below:

The Rules Don’t Seem To Apply For Freire Charter School In Delaware!!!!

When did Freire Charter School of Wilmington apply for their own teacher evaluation system?  Because their July 16th board minutes indicate the following: “Kelly Davenport indicated that Freire Wilmington applied to the Delaware Department of Education to use a teacher evaluation system of its own design, and was approved.” In looking at Delaware Department of Education notes on their website, I found absolutely nothing showing an application or any type of approval for this request.

Freire did have a major modification request earlier this year which was approved by the State Board of Education, but that was to decrease their student enrollment.  Absolutely nothing was said about having an alternative educator evaluation system, separate from DPAS-II.  Have we now entered a world where any charter school can get whatever they want with zero transparency at all from the Delaware Department of Education?  It is starting to seem that way.  I know Freire is a “chain” of charters coming from Philadelphia, but that does not exempt them from transparency at all.  We all know about the fight to stop them from being at their current location, but nothing has stopped them even though the local neighborhood association did everything they could.  Their former school director was even arrested after he was accused of accosting one of the protesters last March.

The mention of this in their board minutes can be found on Page 2 in the below document: