Tonight, in a half hour part of their monthly meeting, the Delaware State Board of Education approved seven Delaware charter schools to be renewed.
Moment of Truth for 8 Delaware Charter SchoolsCharter School Renewals
On December 20th, the State Board of Education will decide on seven charter school renewals at their monthly meeting after hearing the decision by Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting. Meanwhile, the Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education will decide on Charter School of Wilmington’s charter renewal. Two charters want a ten-year renewal. Two have submitted minor modification requests to decrease enrollment. Yesterday, the Delaware DOE’s Charter School Office released the final reports for all seven charters up for renewal through their office.
Delaware DOE Has 7 Charter School Renewals To Contend With This Fall!Charter School Renewals
When you have 24 charter schools in a state, 22 of which are authorized by the state Department of Education, there are going to be years where the amount of charter renewals are going to go up. This fall, the Delaware DOE Charter School Office and the Charter School Accountability Committee are going to have their hands full as seven charter schools go through their renewal process.
Seven Delaware Charter Schools Up For Renewal Next Fall!!!!Delaware Charter Schools
Every year, the Delaware State Board of Education gets to vote on charter school renewals. This year, there are seven charter schools up for renewal. I believe this is a record and will keep the Charter School Office busy from now until then. But this year could be different for these renewals because of events going on the Delaware Department of Education and the State Board of Education that are beyond their control.
Charter School Salaries Over $100,000: Freire, Las Americas ASPIRA, Positive Outcomes, and Thomas EdisonFreire Charter School, Las Americas Aspiras, Positive Outcomes Charter School, Thomas Edison Charter School
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.
Which Delaware Charter School Is Under Investigation By The State Auditor Now? How About ALL Of Them!!!!DE Auditor of Accounts, Delaware Charter Schools
It turns out the Delaware State Auditor’s office is investigating the September 30th Enrollment Counts at certain charter schools in Delaware. Which ones? How about ALL OF THEM!!! Schools were notified in November that the Auditor of Accounts would be coming for a visit. They started going to the charters the past couple months. How do I know this? A few charters actually told me. But my question would be this: why would the auditor’s office announce they were coming ahead of time? Isn’t the point of an audit investigation that it takes you by surprise?
“September 30th Procedures.” The above picture came from Positive Outcomes board minutes from November. All schools in Delaware are required to submit their enrollment counts on September 30th of each school year. This determines the unit-based funding for special education children in Delaware. If ALL the charters under investigation by the auditor, is this for their special education counts or their TOTAL counts? This could be a VERY interesting report when it comes out! I went to the state auditor’s website, and I saw NO reports from the last three fiscal years on any type of September 30th count investigation.
Newark Charter School already had their audit done. I have to wonder why all of them are being investigated. I know Delaware Met’s numbers were in some flux for a while there. But ALL of them? I would have to imagine if ANY charter school in Delaware is reporting false numbers that would have a huge impact on their funding. As well, it is the law. But if they are fudging around with special education numbers…that’s federal as well! IDEA-B funding comes from federal coffers, and you DON’T want the feds coming after you for that kind of fraud!
Is The Former Executive Director From Delaware Schools Boards Association Going To Join A Charter School Board?Sue Francis
Sue Francis recently retired as the Executive Director of the Delaware School Boards Association. She held the title for many years. So what are her plans for her retirement? Apparently she has expressed a desire to join another school board! But not just any school board, a charter school board! As most know, charter school board members are not publicly elected, so the board would have to vote themselves on whether or not she can join. So which charter school is it?
Kendall Massett And I Agree On Something!!!! Del Met & Other Charter NewsDelaware MET
Just kidding Kendall! But seriously, the more I am hearing about this Delaware Met meeting, the more I can’t wait to see the transcript! Meanwhile, both Avi with Newsworks and Matt Albright with the News Journal covered this big news today as well. One clarification which I am now hearing about. The school did not have most of their population as Moyer students. There were about ten of them I am now hearing. According to Avi’s article, if Godowsky and the State Board shut it down, the students will have the choice to go back to their district feeder schools or other charters. But back to Kendall, from Avi’s article:
School safety also emerged as a major theme. Wilmington police have visited Delaware Met 24 times since the school year began and made nine arrests, according to the testimony of state officials at Tuesday’s meeting. Last month, in response to a CSAC request for information, school officials said local police had only visited Delaware Met six times.
That discrepency irked Kendall Massett, executive director of the Delaware Charter School Network and a non-voting member of CSAC.
“It’s not the number of times the police came, it’s that they need to be honest about it,” Massett said.
Massett said she “absolutely support[ed]” the committee’s recommendation to shutter Delaware Met.
I supported this recommendation before it was even made! One important thing to take note of is the timing. The way charter school funding works, they get their next big chunk of funding in February. By shutting the school down in January, this would prevent them from getting those funds and squandering them if they knew the school was going to shut down at the end of the year. Even the DOE issued a press release on this:
The Delaware Department of Education’s Charter School Accountability Committee today recommended the revocation of Delaware MET’s charter in January because of academic, operational, governance and financial problems at the Wilmington school.
A public hearing is scheduled for 5 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Carvel State Office Building at the corner of 9th and French streets in Wilmington. Public comment will be accepted through December 11. After reviewing the full record, Secretary of Education Steven Godowsky will present his decision regarding the school’s future to the State Board of Education for its assent at the board’s December 17 meeting.
Issues considered by the committee include:
Educational program, specifically:
o Fidelity to the school’s approved curriculum and instructional program, including the Big Picture Learning instructional model, use of technology, participation in various coalitions, and implementation status of project-based learning. Lessons plans submitted to CSAC also were found to be out of alignment with the state’s academic standards.
o Special education services, including the results of a recent monitoring visit by the Department of Education’s Exceptional Children Resources staff that found the school was out of compliance with all 59 of its students’ Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).
School culture, specifically safety and discipline concerns
Governing board and leadership capacity, specifically lack of compliance with open meeting laws
Financial viability, specifically due both to decreased student enrollment and the school’s budget not reflecting full compliance with programmatic requirements, including special education
Delaware MET, which opened this fall, was placed on formal review by the State Board of Education on October 15.
Should Secretary Godowsky and the State Board follow the committee’s recommendation to revoke the charter, the school would close on January 22, the end of the second marking period. The state would assist the school’s 210 students and their families in moving to other schools for the rest of the academic year. The children may return to the district schools in their home feeder patterns or choice into another district or charter school that is accepting students. The receiving schools would receive prorated funding for the returning students.
As they look toward next year, families also may fill out the state’s School Choice application for another district or charter school for 2016-17. The application deadline is January 13, 2016.
I feel bad for these kids. I truly do. It is one thing to have a school not service you and give you a proper education. Delaware Met is another thing altogether! I really hope the State Board of Education and Godowsky do the right thing here. Perhaps the State Board won’t be so quick to approve so many charter schools all at once and will really look at the wisdom of that decision. Perhaps it is time to take a fresh new look at the whole charter school application process. Because it isn’t just Delaware Met. Yes, the spotlight is on them, and they made the most unwise decisions. But other new charters are experiencing severe growing pains. First State Military Academy is now going on their third special education coordinator. I’m not sure if they made their IEP compliance deadline as a new school, but I don’t like what I’m hearing in terms of the school’s issues with understanding the IEP process and what they feel are appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities.
One thing that will become a huge problem in the future for all schools is the concept of personalized learning. If you have a personalized learning program at your school, the IEP is covered under a federal program called IDEA. For those who may not know this, the decisions of an IEP team, covered by federal law, trumps the online learning system. As an example, if a student is required to do 15 out of 20 math problems based on their IEP, than the school needs to honor that. You can’t say the computer score is right and you have to go by that. Unfortunately, the state standardized assessment is another issue. But for unit tests and quizzes, and even homework done on the computer, these schools need to contact these companies like Schoology and learn how THEIR system can accommodate students with IEPs, not the other way around.
As for Delaware Met, they had plenty of time to get it right and it comes down to very bad choices. I’m sure they knew their head of school was pregnant when she got the job last March. Knowing that, why would you not plan for the eventual maternity leave? Sorry, I’m just getting really tired of hearing that excuse. I have to wonder how much training and professional development teachers really got at this school. Positive Outcomes has the same Big Picture Learning program, and they haven’t had the issues Delaware Met is experiencing. And they are a school with about 60% of their population having IEPs. I’m sure the school will play the blame game on the districts and other charters for failing to send them information about the students. But given the issues with the staff and Innovative Schools, I have to wonder how much effort was put into actually requesting those records. We can’t assume everything coming from the school is the Gospel truth. I caught Innovative Schools in at least three lies at their first Charter School Accountability Committee meeting.
At the end of the day, it is about doing the right thing, and Delaware Met failed. I have no doubt the intention was there with many of their board members, but this needs to be a lesson learned for those wanting to start a school without the experience to back it up. First State Military Academy and many other schools are using models that are strongly suggested by Innovative Schools. Perhaps it is past time Innovative Schools has a state investigation and audit to see how useful the services they are offering Delaware charters truly are and how much is wasteful.
Seven Delaware Charters Bow Out of DPAS-II Teacher Evaluation SystemDelaware Charters, Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy, Teacher Evaluation System
Last month at the State Board of Education meeting, former Secretary of Education Mark Murphy announced he approved many charter schools for a minor modification involving their Teacher Evaluation system. The schools are Positive Outcomes Charter School, Family Foundations Academy, Las Americas ASPIRA, Academia Antonia Alsonso, Early College High School, First State Military Academy, and The Delaware Met. Oddly enough, the only school I knew that applied for this does not have anything listed on the Delaware DOE website about this. But Freire Charter School of Wilmington is still on probation status. Family Foundations Academy had their probation lifted at the same State Board of Education meeting. Family Foundation’s alternate teacher evaluation system will fall under the Delaware Charter Collaborative system that already includes East Side, Prestige Academy, Kuumba, and Thomas Edison.
By Delaware law, the Secretary of Education does not need the assent of the State Board of Education to approve a minor modification, nor are formal meetings of the Charter School Accountability Committee or formal Public Hearings. But here’s my thing with all this. One of the questions on the application for a minor modification request is this:
The authorizer will review your most recent Performance Review Reports as part of your application. Discuss the school’s academic performance, compliance with the terms of its charter, and financial viability as measured by the Performance Framework.
Four of these charters have NEVER had a Performance Review since they either opened last year (Academia Antonia Alonso and Early College High School) or this year (First State Military Academy and The Delaware Met). Granted, the first two charters will have a performance review in the next month or so, but my point is this- should we be changing an established system in favor of an alternate system for charters that have never been put through a performance review? In my opinion, this should be reserved for schools that have some data behind them to back this up. One only has to look at the horror show of the past month and a half with The Delaware Met to know they should not be approved for an alternate system for teacher evaluation when they can’t even prove they know how to run a school! Below are all the school’s applications and the section of Delaware code that allows for this.
9.9.1 A minor modification is any proposed change to a charter, including proposed changes to any condition placed on the charter, which is not a major modification. Minor modifications include, but are not limited to:
22.214.171.124 Changes to the name of either the charter school or charter holder; or
126.96.36.199 The first extension of any deadline imposed on the charter school or charter holder by thirty (30) working days or less (or by 15 calendar days in the case of the First Instructional Day); or
188.8.131.52 In the case of a charter school which is open with students in attendance, offering educational services at a site other than, or in addition to, the site approved as part of the school’s charter, when use of the approved site has unavoidably been lost by reason of fire or other casualty as that term is defined in Black’s Law Dictionary; or
184.108.40.206 An increase or decrease in the school’s total authorized enrollment of more than 5%, but not more than 15%, provided further the minor modification request must be filed between November 1st and December 31st and, if approved, shall be effective the following school year; or
220.127.116.11 Alter, expand or enhance existing or planned school facilities or structures, including any plan to use temporary or modular structures, provided that the applicant demonstrates that the school will maintain the health and safety of the students and staff and remain economically viable as provided in 4.4 above; or
18.104.22.168 Any change in the school’s agreement with an educational management organization other than as set forth in 9.4.3 and 22.214.171.124 above; or
126.96.36.199 A change to the current authorized number of hours, either daily or annually, devoted to actual school sessions. Regardless of any proposed change, the school shall maintain the minimum instructional hours required by Title 14 of the Delaware Code; or
188.8.131.52 A change in the terms of the current site facilities arrangements including, but not limited to, a lease to a purchase or a purchase to a lease arrangement; or
9.9.2 The Secretary may decide the minor modification application based on the supporting documents supplied with the application unless the Secretary finds that additional information is needed from the applicant.
9.9.3 The Secretary may refer a minor modification request to the Accountability Committee for review if the Secretary determines, in her/his sole discretion, that such review would be helpful in her/his consideration of the application. If the Secretary refers a minor modification application to the Accountability Committee, she/he may decide the application based on any report from the Committee and the supporting documents related to the application. The applicant for a minor modification shall be notified if the minor modification request has been forwarded to the Accountability Committee. The applicant may be asked to provide additional supporting documentation.
9.9.4 The Secretary may deny a minor modification request if the supporting documentation is incomplete or insufficient provided the applicant has been advised additional information was needed
9.9.5 Upon receiving an application for a minor modification, the Secretary shall notify the State Board of the application and her/his decision on whether to refer the application to the Accountability Committee.
9.9.6 The meeting and hearing process provided for in Section 511(h), (i) and (j) of the Charter School Law shall not apply to a minor modification application even where the Secretary refers the application to the Accountability Committee.
9.9.7 Decisions for minor modifications to a charter may be decided by the Secretary within 30 working days from the date the application was filed, unless the timeline is waived by mutual agreement of the Secretary and the applicant, or in any case where the Secretary, in the sole discretion of the Secretary, deems that it would be beneficial to either refer the matter to the Accountability Committee or to seek advice from the State Board prior to deciding the matter.
Nowhere in this part of Delaware code is there anything about teacher evaluation systems. But that is covered under the very loose “Minor modifications include, but are not limited to” part of this in 9.9.1. That is a very major change to a school’s operations, and should be a major modification. When these schools apply, the applications go to the Teacher Leader Effectiveness Unit at the Delaware DOE, led by Chris Ruszkowski. Once they approve it, it goes to the Secretary of Education. But I’m not surprised the DOE and Secretary Murphy would play fast and loose with state code to get what they want with charters…
News Journal Jumps On The Delaware Met StoryDelaware MET, News Journal
Matthew Albright with the Delaware News Journal finally jumped on the Delaware Met story three days after this blog broke the news about it’s pending closure. The article does not state the school is closing because the board is meeting tonight to decide if they should hand in their charter. I would fully expect a mainstream media source to take this route. However, I do take offense to this part:
Rumors circulated through the weekend that Delaware Met had already made the decision to close. Students did not attend school Friday – Harrington said the school scheduled professional development for teachers – but kids were back Monday.
“We’ve been trying to get the message out to parents that no decision has been made, but they keep hearing people saying it’s already happened,” Harrington said. “It isn’t helping.”
Why would Albright only contact the school about this? There was no mention of the Delaware Department of Education who I’m sure would have been notified. As well, he knew what the source of the “rumors” was and I never heard from him. But he was up in Philly for the Papal Visit. Mr. Harrington, you could have easily contacted me as well, but the school did not respond to my two emails on Friday. Nor did the Department of Education.
Is this school a special education school? Calling it a “Big Picture School” is not indicative of what has been going on there.
Second, the board will decide whether the school can get a handle on problems with school climate. Harrington said there have been fights and incidents in which students have been disrespectful towards school staff.
“We’re talking about kids acting out,” Harrington said. “Our board’s and leadership’s priority is making sure we can provide a safe environment for our students.”
Part of providing a safe environment for students is having a firm handle on student’s Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) prior to the start of school. Being that there was no board meeting in August, I would really have to wonder how prepared this school was for opening day. I do have a lot of respect for Ed Emmett from Positive Outcomes, and he could be a valuable source for helping the school understand special education issues. But I think their financial issues may be beyond just an enrollment issue. How much are they paying to Innovative Schools for rent? Since they have NO financial information on their website (which they are required to do monthly as per Delaware law), how could anyone ascertain what their financial picture is?
I also have to question the role Innovative Schools plays in Delaware education. Their name has been attached to far too many charters that close or have huge financial issues at some point. Is it time to reel them in for a serious investigation? And of course Kendall Massett with the Delaware Charter Schools Network is riding in for the rescue. But is it too late? Given everything I have written about this school in the past few days I would be very concerned as a parent of a teenager attending this school. Conflicts of Interest are as transparent as Saran Wrap and this school has red flags all over it.
Delaware Charter School Compliance and Transparency Report 2015Delaware Charter Schools
“Head of School Report: School is completed for this year. This year should go down in the history books as gone for good and never have history repeat itself. We need to learn from the past.”
The above quote was found in a Delaware charter school’s board minute notes recently. About a year ago, I went through all the charters websites and graded them on certain things: board minutes up to date, agendas for next board meetings posted, and monthly financial information posted. I will be grading each charter based on this information again this year, but I am adding in Citizens Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) notifications and minutes. I’m not including charters that haven’t opened yet or charters who got shut down this year cause really, what’s the point?
I can say a lot of the charters have become more compliant and transparent with these in the past year. But some have not. I gave a little bit of slack on the board minutes. A lot of them had a meeting in the past week, so I don’t expect them to get the June minutes up right away. If you see red, it’s not a major thing, but they need to fix it. If it’s in BOLD red, they are majorly breaking the law and they need to fix that ASAP! State law mandates charters put up their monthly financial info up within 15 days of their last board meeting. As well, you have to have a CBOC committee and meetings. Two of the charters on here with some big dinks are on probation already so they need to get on that. Two others are up for charter renewal, so they definitely need to jam on it!
Academia Antonia Alonso– Agenda: no (only has two agendas for two board meetings in past year listed), Board Minutes: June 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: June 2015, Monthly Financials: April 2015, next board meeting: August 26th, Bonus: has meetings listed through end of 2015, Grade: C-
Academy of Dover– Agenda: Yes, Board minutes: June 2015, CBOC Meetings: Yes, CBOC Minutes: June 2015, Monthly Financials: April 2015, next board meeting: July 30th, Grade: B
Campus Community School– Agenda: July 2015, Board minutes: April 2015, CBOC Meetings: Yes, CBOC Minutes: March 2015, Monthly Financials: May 2015, next board meeting: not listed, Grade: D
Charter School of Wilmington– Agenda: Yes, Board Minutes: June 2015, CBOC Meetings: Yes, CBOC Minutes: May 2015, Monthly Financials: May 2015, next board meeting: not listed, but does indicate no July meeting, Grade: B
Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security– Agenda: no, website gives generic agenda for every meeting, Board Minutes: April 2015, CBOC Meetings: Yes, CBOC Minutes: April 2015, Monthly Financials: April 2015, next board meeting: none listed, last shows June 2015, Grade: F
Delaware College Prep– Agenda: no, Board Minutes: April 2015, CBOC Meetings: no, CBOC Minutes: April 2014, Monthly Financials: June 2015, next board meeting: none listed, last shows June 2015, Grade F- for Formal Review
Delaware Military Academy– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: May 2015, CBOC Meetings: Yes, CBOC Minutes: January 2015, Monthly Financials: May 2015, next board meeting: none listed, states meets 4th Monday of the month, Grade: D
Early College High School– Agenda: no, Board Minutes: May 2015 (states June meeting had no quorum which is majority of board members present to approve items up for action), CBOC Meetings: no, CBOC Minutes: no, Monthly Financials: April 2015, next board meeting: none listed but states meets 4th Thursday of the month, Grade: F
Eastside Charter School– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: May 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: May 2015, Monthly Financials: May 2015, next board meeting: August 26th, Bonus: Shows anticipated board meeting dates thru June, 2016, Grade: A
Family Foundations Academy– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: May 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: April 2015, Monthly Financials: May 2015, next board meeting: August 26th, Bonus: shows anticipated board meeting dates thru June, 2016, Grade: A
First State Montessori Academy– Agenda: no, Board Minutes: February 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: May 2015, Monthly Financials: May 2015, next board meeting: none listed, shows meets 4th Thursday of the month, Weird Fact: Uses WordPress as their website, the same as Exceptional Delaware…, Grade: D+
Gateway Lab School– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: May 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: May 2015, Monthly Financials: June 2015, next board meeting: August 18th, Bonus: shows anticipated board meeting dates thru June, 2016, Grade: A+
Kuumba Academy– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: May 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: May 2015, Monthly Financials: May 2015, next board meeting: none listed, Grade: B
Las Americas Aspiras Academy– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: May 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: May 2015, Monthly Financials: yes*, next board meeting: none listed, states meets 4th Thursday of each month, *Superstar: Monthly Financial report is excellent, shows both what the DOE wants AND what state appropriations and codes are needed!!!!, Grade: A+
MOT Charter School– Agenda: no, Board Minutes: June 2015, CBOC Meetings: not sure, shows agenda for June 2015 meeting but last meeting was in May 2013, CBOC Minutes: May 2013, Monthly Financials: May 2015, next board meeting: none listed, Grade: F
Newark Charter School– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: June 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: June 2015, Monthly Financials: June 2015, next board meeting: August 18th, Bonus: board meetings listed through June, 2016, Grade: A+
Odyssey Charter School– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: June 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: May 2015, Monthly Financials: May 2015, next board meeting: August 12th, Grade: A-
Positive Outcomes– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: May 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: June 2015, Monthly Financials: June 2015, next board meeting: August 19th, Bonus: board meetings AND CBOC meetings listed through June 2016, Grade: A+
Prestige Academy– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: May 2015, CBOC Meetings: no, CBOC Minutes: none listed, website only shows members of CBOC, Monthly Financials: April 2015, next board meeting: none listed, shows meets 3rd Tuesday of each month, Grade: F
Providence Creek Academy– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: June 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: April 2015, Monthly Financials: June 2015, next board meeting: August 25th, Bonus: does have all future board meetings through June 2016 on school calendar, Grade: A+
Sussex Academy– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: May 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: May 2015, Monthly Financials: February 2015, next board meeting: September 16th (no meetings in July or August), Grade: C
Thomas Edison Charter– Agenda: yes, Board Minutes: June 2015, CBOC Meetings: yes, CBOC Minutes: June 2015, Monthly Financials: June 2015, next board meeting: August 17th, Bonus: Has all board meetings listed through June 2016, Grade A+
There you have it. The Exceptional Delaware July 2015 Charter School Compliance and Transparency Report. 8 out of 22 need to do some serious damage control quick. Because once DOE Jenny (as Kilroy calls her) reads this report, she’s going to have some serious questions for some of you!
Oh, I forgot one thing. The quote up above will be shown later today as part of another article. Because even though that school wants to forget about the past year, the past is knocking on their door! More later!
Gateway Lab School Recommended To Close But DE Academy Public Safety & Security Gets A Pass, Something Is Very Wrong HereGateway Lab School
In reviewing the decisions made by the Charter School Accountability Committee for Delaware, there is an obvious bias against Gateway Lab School. Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security (DAPPS), with their special education population of 12.6%, had their charter renewed.
DAPPS was rated Does Not Meet for the past three years under academic proficiency. Their financial accountability was fail in 2011-2012, does not meet in 201-2013 and fail again in 2013-2014. Their organizational rating was does not meet for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, but managed to meet for 2013-2014. For Gateway, they were rated meets in both financial and organizational this year.
Below are the final reports from the Charter School Accountability Committee:
There a few things that stuck out to me. One is the membership of Charles (Chuck) Taylor on this committee. They have him as a community member and Former Charter School Leader. While these are both true, Chuck Taylor is also the President of the Delaware Charter Schools Network Governing Board. Why would they not list him as such as he holds such a lofty position? In the DAPSS final report, David Blowman, the Deputy Secretary of the Delaware DOE, is talked about. “He noted that the Financial Framework section does not meet standard, but stated that is not a concern.” Yet the school is only at 76% capacity with 363 students out of a maximum enrollment of 420. For charter schools, if they are not financially viable, then they cannot operate. But this isn’t a concern, based on a promise they will get their enrollment up for the next school year when several other charter schools will be opening?
For DAPSS, in 2013-2014, their Math proficiency score percentage for students with disabilities was 31.3% and for ELA it was 30.1%. For Gateway, their Math was 28.3% and ELA was 30.3%. While DAPSS did only slightly better in Math for students with disabilities, Gateway did slightly better in ELA. If you are going to judge a whole school for proficiency scores for these types of students, then you need to be consistent across the board, regardless of the population.
For Gateway, they are compared to their home district, which is Red Clay Consolidated School District. These would be listed as similar schools. But they are not similar schools with Gateway having such a high population of special education students. But Positive Outcomes, in Kent County, has their proficiency ratings compared to forty different schools in the area that specialize in learning disabilities and high populations of special education students. This seems like a very glaring bias against Gateway. How can they be judged as failing when the very metric they are being measured for is extremely flawed? I have nothing but the utmost respect for Positive Outcomes, but Gateway should be judged academically the same way Positive Outcomes is. Would they still be rated as failing if they were held against that correct standard?
To view these two very different pieces of data, go to the following:
There is something fundamentally and morally wrong when a state wants to recommend the closure of a school for special needs children using flawed comparison data. So then I must ask, what is the true purpose of this decision? I can guess and theorize as to what that might be, but at the end of the day, none of that guessing will help the students and parents of these children being forced to make hard decisions. If I were these parents, I would be filing an Office of Civil Rights violation against the Delaware Department of Education immediately.
Charter schools in Delaware discriminate all the time with enrollment preferences and denial of special education services. But when a charter school gets it right, they are given a knife in the back. There is no justice.