As I was combing through Title 14 this evening, I found something astonishing. I know of a Principal that changed a grade for a student. It looks like that Principal broke the law. I believe that Principal is retired now and who knows what the enforceability of this law is. What this means is only the very highest level in a district or charter school can change a teacher’s grade. Even on something as small as homework. The law is below. I have to wonder how much the Delaware Secretary of Education actually gets on this! Continue reading
In a letter dated to parents on June 2nd, 2017, Christina School District Assistant Superintendent Noreen LaSorsa sent a letter to parents advising that Kirk Middle School Principal Brian Curtis was placed on leave. The letter did not indicate if the leave is a paid leave or not. In conducting a search for more information, I found a post on Facebook to the Christina School District Facebook page where a parent asked the district if he was fired for embezzlement.
When you go to Christina’s Facebook page, all visitor posts are now gone. I tried to submit a post asking where they all went and received a message that it would be reviewed. But the post still shows up on Facebook’s search engine. I edited the picture just for basic privacy rights of the person who submitted the question although it is public information on Facebook. The response to the parent post by the administrator of their Facebook page was 10:55am on June 2nd. The timestamp of the PDF letter sent to parents was 11:53am on June 2nd.
Curtis worked at the Delaware Department of Education for four and a half years in the school turnaround unit (i.e. priority schools) before he was hired to become Principal at Kirk Middle School in 2015. He replaced outgoing Principal Dan Shelton who became the Superintendent of the Capital School District. Curtis never updated his LinkedIn page with his new position. I searched for any recent news or events with Brian Curtis in Delaware and found nothing. While I am sure the district will not release any information pertaining to a pending investigation, this could not come at a worse time in Delaware as the General Assembly is in the final stages of preparing their FY2018 budget which has a current deficit of nearly $400 million dollars. Many school districts and state agencies are feeling the pinch as budget cuts are expected throughout the state.
In recent years, Delaware school district and charter schools have gone through many audit investigations due to financial abuse of some sort at their schools. Charter schools Providence Creek Academy, Academy of Dover, Family Foundations Academy, Delaware Military Academy and the closed Pencader Business School as well as the Indian River School District and Sussex Technical School District have all had reports from that office since 2013.
While working on another article about a situation not related to this one at all, I stumbled across the Facebook post which led me to the announcement about Curtis being placed on leave. While a question posed by a parent does not give any clear picture of wrongdoing, the fact the school district deleted the ability for anyone to see it on their main district page along with all other visitor posts IS cause for concern.
For many students in Capital School District, their building leaders will look different in August. Capital is moving Principals and Associate Principals around as a part of their Strategic Planning Process.
For Booker T. Washington Elementary School, Dr. Paige Morgan will replace Dale Brown who resigned/retired earlier this year. William Henry Middle School will look very different. Charles Sheppard, the current Principal of Towne Point Elementary, will be the new Principal while Linda Daye will take on a role of Associate Principal, coming from Central Middle School. Current William Henry Middle School Principal Tori Giddens will take Sheppard’s spot at Towne Point. Current Associate Principal Lurleen Lumpkin will become an Associate Principal at Central Middle School taking Daye’s former spot.
I know a lot of these administrators and they are good people. I believe this is a positive step for Capital. Sometimes you need to mix things up a little!
According to a letter sent from Superintendent Dr. Dan Shelton, these changes are being made to help the district grow.
Capital School District has engaged much of the community in its Strategic Planning Process over the last 2 years. As part of that process, we are working to ensure we have opportunities for all staff members to learn and grow. We are also being very reflective on how we can advance the district.
As part of that reflective process, some administrative changes were identified. We believe that these changes will help everyone as we educate the whole child.
The Christina School District Board of Education will review the amount of spending their Superintendent can spend before they have to get board approval at their monthly meeting tonight. The current limit is $20,000. Previously, it had been $50,000 but after their second failed referendum attempt in 2015, the board lowered the amount.
$50,000 is a key figure with Delaware Superintendents. In Delaware code, any contract of $50,000 or more has to go through the request for proposal process in the state. Many school districts circumvent this by having contracts for $49,000-$49,999. These kind of budgets can be controversial. School boards lose some power when the districts write those kind of vendor contracts.
As well, the board is reviewing this type of spending for school principals with another proposal to raise that amount without a signature from $10,000 to $25,000.
With many citizens in Delaware demanding greater transparency of school district funding, this could be seen by those advocates as more continuous evaporation of schools and districts not giving crucial financial information to the public.
The board also has an item on their agenda, if approved, would give the board more ability to participate in legislation and regulations that could affect the school district. If implemented, this would give a board member the ability to go to Senate and House Education Committee meetings as well as State Board of Education meetings and give public comment on behalf of the board. The policy would also mandate that any board member speaking about education policy would have to state in public these are individual thoughts and not reflective of the Christina School District of Board of Education. For the past two years, the board has declined to join the Delaware School Boards Association which usually has their own representative at these types of meetings.
The board will also discuss the upcoming implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act and what that could mean for the district. I highly recommend board members participate and comment on this confusing legislation and make sure their voice is heard.
The board meeting will be at Gauger-Cobbs Middle School beginning at 7pm this evening.
FISCAL MANAGEMENT POLICY
CONTRACTS & REAL ESTATE POLICY
Did a principal of a Wilmington, Delaware elementary school participate in electioneering?
The below picture just showed up in my email inbox. The alleged letter is from the Principal of Stubbs Elementary School in the Christina School District. The picture would suggest Stubbs E.S. Principal Jeffers Brown fully endorses Delaware Senator Bryan Townsend for Congress. What’s the big deal? He is acting as an employee of the Christina School District. The title states “From the desk of Principal Jeffers Brown”. Not Jeffers Brown, taxpaying citizen, but Principal Jeffers Brown. I do not know how or if the below letter was sent out to the public. I don’t know who received the letter. I don’t know if it was placed in students’ backpacks to be sent home to parents. I don’t know if it was mailed. What I do know, if Principal Jeffers Brown did allegedly commit possible electioneering, that is explicitly against Christina School District Board of Education policy and Delaware election laws.
This matter has been brought to the attention of the Christina School District but no response has been released yet. I would have to wonder, personally, how this letter came about in the first place. The letter does not state it was paid for by “Friends of Bryan Townsend for Congress” or anything like that and I would hope the Townsend camp would know that is a possible violation of Delaware law and possibly Federal law as well because this is a federal office. Is this something Principal Jeffers Brown did on his own or was he asked to do it? Was he the only employee of the district who put pen to paper with his signature as a school employee? Is there similar campaign literature coming out of the Townsend camp with similar wording? If so, please send to me at email@example.com and all will be kept anonymous. While writing this article, I was informed there is an envelope with a P.O. Box on it but I have yet to receive a copy of such an envelope if it exists.
This article will most assuredly continue to receive updates as developments become more clear. If Principal Jeffers Brown wishes to contact me as well, I would be more than happy to hear his side of the story behind this letter. While I do not personally endorse Senator Townsend for Congress for reasons I have written about on this blog, I would be putting this article up no matter which candidate may have benefitted from a potential electioneering process as could be in the above letter.
Updated, 4:44pm: I received a copy of the envelope this was sent from. In the below picture it states “From the desk of Jeffers Brown” with an address of PO Box 1729. I did a quick search and found out where this address comes from:
But this… this is not good at all…
The approach the Department is taking shortchanges our most vulnerable children and puts Delaware’s future at risk.
At the end of last year, the Delaware Department of Education proposed amendments to Regulation 616 concerning due process procedures for alternative placement meetings and expulsion hearings. In a nutshell, this regulation would make it easier to strip away the rights of students and parents in regards to school discipline. This prompted a wave of negative comments from many concerned organizations and citizens in Delaware. It started with the Smyrna School District Assistant Superintendent and went from there. The State Board of Education tabled the changes at their December, 2016 board meeting. Now Reg. 616 is back. It was published in the June Registrar of Regulations.
As I wrote last year when this god awful and horrible regulation was introduced, this bill appears to be tailor made for charter schools. To kick out the unwanted. Why does the Delaware DOE and State Board of Education even consider this kind of nonsense? Especially since there were laws passed dealing with this exact sort of thing. Furthermore, Senate Bill 239, if passed, would have been the opposite of this bill. I’m hearing this bill will come back roaring in the 149th General Assembly. It was a question of timing for why it didn’t pass this spring.
Disproportionality is a big word these days and it needs to be. We are seeing the results of what can happen when the pendulum swings too far in one direction. The Delaware DOE and the State Board are taking a huge step backwards in a time when they should be getting out of this mindset. If our charter schools want to completely change the direction of Delaware schools while everyone else is saying no, perhaps the time has come for them to change. This isn’t Little House on the Prairie anymore. They need to stop relying on funding from the state and the citizens who actually produce the funding for them to run as quasi-corporations and become what they should have been in the first place: private schools charging tuition. Let’s see how successful they are then when they aren’t using their “autonomy” when it suits them best and then ditching that concept when things aren’t equal.
ACLU COMMENTS ON REGULATION 616
ATTORNEY GENERAL’S COMMENTS ON REGULATION 616
DSCYF COMMENTS ON REGULATION 616
GACEC COMMENTS ON REGULATION 616
SCPD COMMENTS ON REGULATION 616
If it is February, DOOM will strike Delaware again this year. It just so happens that I am declaring this month Parent Rights Month. This works out perfectly because it is also Delaware Opt-Out Month! This is the month where you should really opt your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. The test window begins at the beginning of March. Different schools will take the test at some point between March and the first week of June. These are the things you may hear. Ignore them…
- We will get our funding cut if you opt your child out.
- Our school will get a bad rating.
- Don’t listen to that blogger.
- But House Bill 50 got vetoed and never passed. You can’t opt out.
- It’s against the law to opt your child out.
- We should talk about this first. Can we arrange for a meeting?
- Why don’t you give the test a chance. It really isn’t that bad.
- Only I decide who opts out of the test.
- It is a civil rights violation to opt out.
Whatever the Principal or Superintendent says, ignore it. If your child is in the Capital, Christina, or Red Clay school districts, they shouldn’t be giving you any flack at all. Their boards already voted and said it is okay and they will not punish your child. You have every right to opt your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. There is no law that says you can’t. It is not against the law for you to opt out!!!! Could the feds pull funding? It is remotely possible. But it is also an election year. The feds can threaten all they want, but I would love to actually see them play that card. It’s never happened before. And No Child Left Behind officially ends at the end of July. After that, states are allowed to determine their own opt out rules.
Tomorrow, I’m going to make a list of all the district and charter board meetings this month. If you haven’t opted your child out before, here is how you do it. Write a letter to the Principal of your child’s school. State you do not want your child taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment. As well, let the Principal know you want your child to receive instruction while the other kids are taking the test. Hand deliver a copy to the principal. As extra insurance, I would also write an acknowledgement letter and have the principal sign it. If you can, bring a witness. While these precautions may seem overboard, it is for your own protection as well as that of your child. If the principal or primary school leader refuses to accept your information, yells at you, or acts in a way that in any way appears to be intimidating, please let me know. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org or you can join the Refuse The Test Delaware page on Facebook.
Tomorrow, I will put down every single district or charter school board meeting for February. Others opted out at board meetings last year. It sends a clear message to the decision makers. These are public meetings. You can sign up for public comment when you get to the board meeting.
February is also Parent Rights month. Throughout the month, I will write articles on why your rights matter. In most situations, a parent knows what is best for their child. Our voices are ignored a lot when it comes to education. We are treated as “guests” at many of our schools and that is unacceptable. The Supreme Court recognized the rights of parents many times. It is YOUR child, not the school’s child. Some will tell you when your child walks into school, they are no longer your child but the school or the principal’s child. This is completely false, and actually very damaging. If you don’t want your child to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment, they can’t make your child take it.
I believe in my soul this test has no purpose other than to feed data to outside companies to which they will profit greatly off your child. It won’t help your child. It will cause them anxiety. Some schools are attempting to coerce kids into taking the test by offering some type of reward. A charter school is thinking of giving the top performers tickets to an amusement park. What kind of message does that send? Some children don’t do well on these types of tests no matter how smart they are. Some children have disabilities. How does that make a child feel? Some who take this test will try very hard and they still won’t be proficient. Do we reward the top and tell the others they have to watch as others get awards and rewards? That does far more damage than anything else. Don’t let your child be a pawn in these adult games. Let your child be child. Opt your child out as soon as possible.
*The above photograph was used on the Edubloggers.org website.
Yesterday, students at Delaware Met got to leave school early…again… With only a few weeks left of school at the Delaware Met, apparently something is going on with their heater system because students are reporting the classrooms are VERY cold. What happened next could only happen at this school where the bizarre and the jacked up seem to be on a collision course every day… Continue reading
Dr. Evelyn Edney, the Dover High School principal, is finishing up her last days at Dover High School and has taken on the position of Principal at Early College High School at Delaware State University. Last winter, supporters of Edney were very upset her contract wasn’t renewed with the Capital School District. They came to board meetings demanding transparency on the issue.
It sounds like Edney has secured a new position, albeit in a much smaller charter school. Please read the press release from Early College High School on Edney’s new role: