AHEPA Member Harasses Odyssey Whistle Blower Over Formal Review, Today Last Day For Public Comment

1934226_10208377923034552_6774516718266308220_n (2)

At the final Public Hearing for Odyssey Charter School’s formal review, public comment was given by Jennifer Ballas indicating a prominent member of the AHEPA organization publicly harassed her at Odyssey’s last public board meeting after she spoke out against AHEPA.

After I spoke at the last public board meeting, I was attacked by AHEPA member who threatened and tried to intimidate me, and things that Mr. Manny Kanas, who used to be AHEPA Board President, said, I was a loud mouth, disrespectful, rude piece of useless flesh that is a total puppet to Dr. Nick.  He told me I was stupid.  And he wanted me to go away.  And that the cat had my tongue, even though I did not have the time to quickly respond to him.  And that scorned women are the worst.

It can be tough to be a whistle blower.  You put yourself in the direct path of those who don’t like change.  Who don’t like the truth coming out.  This Manny Kanas person who used his bully pulpit in an attempt to humiliate and intimidate a woman who is devoted to the success of children at Odyssey, is a coward.  A pathetic man who is clearly all about control and holding onto a relic of the past that is not welcome in the 21st Century.  I have nothing against the concept of AHEPA.  I don’t have any issue with any group or culture formed to promote education.  What I do take issue is what the Wilmington chapter of this organization has become.  And their treatment of women is deplorable.

Even former DSEA President Mike Matthews gave public comment at the public hearing.

And the fact that so many have gotten up here tonight and said without the AHEPA majority, the school will fail, you just told those hundreds of teachers at that school they are failing.  And I reject that on its face.  This is arrogance and hubris that has led us to the point where we are today.

Today is the final day to submit public comment for Odyssey Charter School.  All comments must be received by the Charter School Office at the Delaware Department of Education before 4pm est today.  Public comment can be emailed to infocso@doe.k12.de.us and MUST be done today.  If you are against the practices of an outside AND private organization controlling a tax-payer paid public school, please let your voice be heard urging Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting and the State Board of Education to reject outside control of a public school board.  I’ll be submitting mine!

In the meantime, all the public comments from the meeting Monday night are below.  It is very easy to see who is cheer-leading for AHEPA and who is speaking out for the truth.

The final decision regarding the formal review for Odyssey Charter School will be at the July 18th State Board of Education meeting at the Townsend Building in Dover at 5pm.  It will be a very interesting decision!

As Odyssey Gets Ready For 2nd Public Hearing, AHEPA Emails Sound Like The Handmaid’s Tale…Blessed Be The Fruit!!!

As the clock ticks for a decision on Odyssey Charter School’s formal review, the final public hearing will be tonight.  Meanwhile, the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), which is the primary reason the school went under formal review in the first place, is begging their membership to come out in support of AHEPAn control of the school’s Board of Directors.  So much so they are beginning to sound very desperate.  I would urge the Delaware Secretary of Education and the State Board of Education to use a grain of salt when they read the public comments submitted to them.


From: AHEPA Wilmington Chapter 95 Office of the President <ahepawilm@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, Jun 30, 2019 at 11:10 PM
Subject: CALL TO ACTION/PLEASE READ CAREFULLY/AND EMAIL IMMEDIATELY!
To:

image.png
Good evening Brothers,

We need to FLOOD the DOE with emails regarding the AHEPA Family’s involvement with the Odyssey Charter School.  We MUST retain control for the school to continue to grow with the mission and vision of its pioneering creators!  Below, please find instructions on what should be done IMMEDIATELY.  In addition to yourself, share with family members and friends so that we inundate the DOE email box with supporting emails.

Click on this link:   https://delaware.gov/help/degov-contact.shtml
Enter your name, email, etc.
In the drop down for Category, enter Education
Subject: I support the AHEPA Family majority on the Odyssey Board…..or pick your own subject.  But make it stand out that you support the AHEPA Family
Enter your information in the body information
Submit

Share this with your friends and relatives.  Have your spouse do it too!  We need to impact their inbox!

And don’t forget!  We need you AND your VOICE and the Carvel State Office Building in downtown Wilmington next Monday, July 8th at 5pm.  You must sign up to speak, so please be there before 5!!!

Fraternally,
Michael Klezaras III

President


That was solicitation for the public comment.  Notice the use of the word “brothers” in the above email.  I guess “sisters” don’t get this email.  But I digress…

The following email was sent out yesterday to AHEPANs for public comment at the public hearing tonight at 5pm.


From: Michael Kirifides < mkirifides@gmail.com>
Date: July 7, 2019 at 1:44:14 PM EDT
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Subject: Fwd: CALL TO ACTION/PLEASE READ CAREFULLY/AND EMAIL IMMEDIATELY!

Dear Friend of AHEPA,
I would like to extend this invitation with urgency to support the local Chapter #95 of AHEPA in governing the Odyssey Charter School. There have been unsubstantiated allegations from a few individuals whose complaints have triggered the Delaware Department of Education to request that AHEPA cede its governing authority over the Odyssey Charter School. Without question, in time, the allegations will be disproved, yet the DoE has been pressuring the local AHEPA to relinquishing its governing majority to the few who are in hostile opposition to AHEPA. As a community, we are coordinating a grass roots response to the Charter School Accountability Committee during the public hearing on Monday July 8th at 5 pm being held at the Carvel State Office Building, 820 N. French Street, Wilmington, DE 19801.
Thank you in advance,
Michael Kirifides

 

From a “few individuals”.  Those “few individuals” sure put the spotlight on a lot of individuals, didn’t they Mr. Kirifides!  Is that spotlight “hostile” or just making sure the school board follows the laws of the state?  Didn’t know it was hostile to point out financial fraud!  I hope this formal review puts the AHEPA brotherhood in their place!  “May the Lord be!”

***Editor’s note: If you haven’t read or watched “The Handmaid’s Tale”, the references to the religious quotes will be lost on you. For those who do, doesn’t AHEPA sound very much like Gilead?

Bombshell Email Chain Exposes Design Thinking Academy’s Board For Failure To Report A Crime & Kendall Massett’s Involvement In The Cover-Up

After the News Journal reported yesterday that Design Thinking Academy was closing a week earlier than expected, new documents showcase the amount of cover-up that was going on at the Delaware charter school that won $10 million dollars from the XQ Institute.  The cover-up concerned a federal grant for funding that allegedly involved fraud by at least four employees who were terminated for their actions. Continue reading

DSEA Gives Strong Public Comment To Delaware Joint Finance Committee

The Delaware Joint Finance Committee listened to the Delaware Department of Education present their FY2020 budget presentation today.  The Delaware State Education Association made their public comment open to the public today.  Given by DSEA’s Director of Legislation, Kristin Dwyer, the public comment hit home on some areas.  In particular, the very heavy lift we are asking of our educators.  It is more apparent than ever that teachers can’t do it alone. Continue reading

State Board Of Education To Double-Up At Next Meeting With 7 Charter School Renewals & Many Presentations

When freaky weather occurred on the date of their last State Board of Education meeting, Executive Director Jenna Ahner canceled the meeting which was to take place in Milford.  As a result, all the agenda items from that meeting will be added to the already crowded December agenda.  If you plan on attending the thing, this is going to be a long night!  The mammoth agenda has a lot going on! Continue reading

Rep. Paul Baumbach To Christina: “Keep Moving As Fast As You Can”

At the end of the Christina School District Board of Education meeting last week, State Representative Paul Baumbach spoke before the board.  He thanked the board and the district for the changes they implemented in the past year and “strongly encouraged” them to keep doing it.  There was a specific reason Baumbach did this.  He admitted the General Assembly doesn’t help. Continue reading

The DOE Financial Transparency Gambit Brings Out Tons Of Public Comment

Last month, the Delaware Department of Education held a series of Community Conversations surrounding the mandates of Senate Bill #172.  The legislation requires the DOE to come up with a uniform method of allowing the public to compare finances between schools.  It is a cumbersome and large task.  It is also required by the Every Student Succeeds Act.  The DOE solicited public comment and boy did they get it!

I still go with the “every penny” scenario.  As in, I won’t be satisfied until we can see how every penny in public education is spent.  I’m pretty sure the folks at Rodel and DelawareCAN already have their claws into this and will make sure whatever comes out fits their own agendas.

DOE Develops A Case Of Pretendonitis With Education Funding Transparency Meeting

The Delaware Department of Education held their first public meeting for Senate Bill #172 which is supposed to show clear transparency with education funding so people can compare how much schools are spending compared to other schools.  The poorly attended event, filled with the usual stakeholders and barely anyone from the general public, showcased a Department that really doesn’t know what this bill means or what they plan to do with it.  In other words, they have a scorching case of pretendonitis. Continue reading

The Heat Is On At The Delaware DOE Building Tomorrow! Time To Fix Their Mess And Make Some Noise!

Tomorrow night, the Delaware Department of Education will hold the first meeting on education funding.  More specifically, cleaning up the hot mess where you can’t really tell how over a billion dollars in taxpayer dollars is spent.  The meeting is tomorrow (Monday) from 5-7pm at the Townsend Building in the 2nd Floor Cabinet Room.

I’ve been pushing for more transparency with this for years.  I love how the DOE ignores a federal mandate that passed in 2015 and waits three years to do something about it.  Here is the problem- none of our districts and charters code things the same way.  It makes it impossible to accurately compare.  One district may put something as “maintenance” while a charter school puts it as “operational costs”.

Nothing will satisfy me until there is a uniform coding structure for EVERYTHING.  That is the only way we can unravel what appears to be a Gordian knot.  And EVERYTHING has to be published in a clear and concise manner so people can understand it.  The current Delaware Online Checkbook is useless.  By the time you can figure the damn thing out it either freezes on you or you give up.

Senate Bill #172 is the state version of what the Every Student Succeeds Act already requires.  But it isn’t what is needed.  It would help a little bit but not the massive change that is needed.  My sense is the DOE already knows what they want and they are just putting on their dog and pony show to say the people wanted what they already want.  Seen it many times folks!  Don’t be fooled.  To read the final version of SB #172 with amendments, read here.  There should be NO exclusions when it comes to transparency of taxpayer dollars.  It is past time The First State became #1 with transparency.

If you have the means and the time, I would get there.  Sign up for public comment and just go for the throat.  Tell them you want to see every penny accounted for, by school and NO EXCEPTIONS!  You get five minutes for public comment so make it count!  This is what the DOE is looking for from the public according to their post on the Delaware Public Meeting Calendar:

The Department of Education will develop a standardized approach with input from district/charter leaders and other community members. To that end, three public meetings are scheduled for this fall so DOE can share its vision and hear from members of the public. Public comment will be limited to five minutes per person; DOE will accept written comments at any of the meetings or via email by Friday, October 12th to jennifer.roussell@doe.k12.de.us.
Both the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and Senate Bill 172, passed by the 149th General Assembly this spring, require the development of a statewide approach to define and report school-level expenditures so school leaders and the public can better compare per-pupil spending across Delaware. The Department of Education (DOE) will begin reporting school-level per-pupil expenditures in Dec. 2019.

District Consolidation Task Forces Passes All Recommendations But There Were No Recommendations For Actual Consolidation Of Districts

Sorry for the long title.  Yes, the Delaware School District Consolidation Task Force did not have any recommendations to actually consolidate any school districts in the state.  But there were a ton of other recommendations that were passed by the task force.  However, State Rep. Earl Jaques (the Task Force Chair) did manage to anger one citizen who came all the way down from Wilmington to give public comment.  Jaques adjourned the meeting without asking if anyone wanted to give public comment even though it was on the agenda.  I did ask Earl if he could readjourn the meeting before everyone left to allow the citizen to speak but he just gave his infamous head roll.  Bad form Earl!

All the recommendations passed (which you can read here) with a few edits to some of them.  I will get those up when they come out.  I voted no on a few of the recommendations.  One that really got my goat concerned professional development days for ALL employees of a district.  I wasn’t opposed to the original wording which said “establish” but it was changed to “support”, as in give the local school board the ability to provide it based on its merits.  I wanted “establish”, and even suggested an addendum covering special education for ALL employees, but I was told by the Committee Chair (Dr. Dusty Blakey, Superintendent of Colonial School District) it would include special education.  I voted no because the addendum took out the word “establish”.

While the actual task force report won’t come out until May 7th, folks may be surprised the majority of the task force voted yes on tax increases to be created by the State which would come as either a Statewide or Countywide tax to cover a projected deficit of $125 million to “reduce class sizes, provide after school programs, wellness centers, additional reading, Math and ELL specialists, early childhood education for 2,3, and 4 year olds and other programs needed to level the playing field for children in those underserved communities.”  While I support many of those items, I voted no because the task force also recommended providing additional funding for English Language Learners and students living in poverty (note it was NOT for low-income students).  Four of us voted no on that.  Another one of those no votes was Senator Dave Sokola.  See Dave, we can agree at times!  By implementing a statewide or countywide tax, that is more money coming out of taxpayer pockets and leaves the legislators off the hook.  It is their job to balance the state budget and I would think there is enough “fluff” in our budget to cover those deficits.  As an example, get rid of the very horrible charter school transportation slush fund.  That did come up as a recommendation but since the legislation creating the task force did not include charter school matters for points of discussion that recommendation was not voted on by the task force.

Transportation was a major issue and created much discussion around it.  There is a tremendous shortage of bus drivers in Delaware and the recommendation passed to look at potential raises for district bus drivers.  Contractors set their own rates based on what the district can pay them.  Anything more would have to come from the contractor.

 

 

 

 

 

As Christina Passes MOU, Carney Wants Charter Students To Come Back To Christina

Last night the Christina Board of Education, in front of a packed house, passed the Memorandum of Understanding between the district, the Delaware Department of Education and Governor John Carney’s office with a 4-2-1 vote.  Board members John Young and Elizabeth Paige voted no while member Angela Mitchell abstained.  The tense meeting, which lasted over three hours, had Carney sitting in the audience the entire time.  While the News Journal, WHYY, and WDEL all came to the meeting, many parts of the meeting were not covered in their articles. Continue reading

Regulation 225 Meeting Draws HUGE Crowd With No Substantive Changes But Some Bizarre Comments

At Del-Tech in Dover last evening, anywhere from 250-300 people showed up for a meeting on the highly controversial Regulation 225.  Some of what I saw defied explanation.  But what I saw this morning could bring the whole thing to a crashing halt! Continue reading

Regulation 225 Coming Back On January 31st, Better Get There Early!

11,000 Public Comments.  Huge PDF files.  It must be Regulation 225, the very controversial regulation dealing with transgender student discrimination.  Today, Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting announced the Development team will reconvene on January 31st to discuss what to do with the regulation going forward.

UPDATE: Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 – The Development Team will meet from 6 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 31 at the Del-One Conference Center on Delaware Technical Community College’s Terry Campus, 100 Campus Drive in Dover. (Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017 – Secretary to reconvene Development Team to review public comment on proposed antidiscrimination regulation)

I tried to read all the public comments.  There is not enough time in the day.  I can say those “against” the regulation are much higher than those “for”.  The PDF for Delaware residents in the “for” category is 17 megabytes (mb).  The one for “against” is 136mb.  That is a mammoth pdf file!  There is another huge file for out-of-state residents.  That PDF is 21mb.  They are all against and seem to be put in a format where all you had to do was put your name and where you are from and that you are “against” the regulation.  Yet another file with unknown residency is over 3mb, and a file described as “other” is only half a megabyte.  Most of those were blank emails or asking the Secretary questions about when the vote was.

Last week, I was listening to the Rick Jensen show on WDEL.  It was when they were doing their “Weasel of the Year”.  Of course it went to this controversy with a huge amount of votes.  But during the show, Jensen made it sound like Delaware Governor John Carney had some problems with the wording when it came to parental rights.  Which I find interesting since he never mentions the words “opt out” when it comes to standardized testing or the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  But I digress.

I am predicting a HUGE crowd for this.  Probably why they are using the conference center at Del-Tech.  But with the amount of public comments, they might want to consider renting out the Dover Downs Speedway.

Academia Antonia Alonso, Early College H.S., First State Montessori, Sussex Academy and Thomas Edison All Get Renewal Recommendations But One Has Serious Conditions

All five of the Delaware charter schools have received renewal recommendations from the Charter School Accountability Committee (CSAC). The State Board of Education will decide if they agree at their December 14th meeting. Anyone wishing to submit formal public comment must do so by December 8th. Everything looks good for these charters except for one of them. Which one? Continue reading

Smyrna School Board Welcomes J Back Into The Smyrna School District

Every once in a while, stories do get a happy ending. Continue reading

Smyrna Update: Board Meeting Tonight & Patrik Williams Evades Transparency

The Smyrna School District Board of Education is meeting tonight for what they are calling a “reorganization meeting”.  Meanwhile, Superintendent Patrik Williams has flat-out responded to my two requests for the email addresses of the Smyrna board.  I actually called most of the members earlier today, but none of them picked up.  I did not leave messages.

What kind of school board, in this day and age, does not provide email addresses?  Seriously?  Patrik Williams seems to think he doesn’t have to provide those even though he is the secretary for their board.  What is the point of having just phone numbers if no one picks up?  Most Delaware school boards and even charter boards provide email addresses for their board members on their website.  I know he saw my request for this because he responded to me on another matter.

At the board meeting tonight, I expect a decent crowd.  The board may discuss discipline issues including votes on current issues, former students, and potential litigation according to their agenda.  They do have other items on their agenda.  Most school boards go into public session at the start of their meeting and then adjourn to go into Executive Session.  Then they return and go through the public agenda.  Time is allotted for public comment this evening.  Bring tootsie rolls if you wish.  The meeting will begin at 6pm at the district office in Smyrna at 82 Monrovia St.

J’s mother will be there along with others who are not happy with his situation and how the district handled it.  I will be there.  You should too.

 

So Glad I Caught Your Attention!

It looks like the Smyrna School District Board of Education has been reading my series on the story of J and their harsh zero tolerance discipline tactics.  It turns out they are having a “special” board meeting dedicated solely to student discipline issues.  This comes right on the heels of my series about J.  Hey, Patrik Williams, you should give Dr. Mark Holodick up in Brandywine a call about this kind of stuff.  He is VERY familiar with these kind of issues.  So much so his district is taking a very good look at their own zero tolerance policies.

I haven’t heard from Patrik Williams since he emailed me a couple of weeks ago and I responded to him.  I am still working on the series about J.  To be honest, I’m trying to get a transcription of the hearing with the State Board of Education.  Going back and forth with that office on that issue.  And with a holiday coming up…  But if I don’t get it, I will come out with the next part with what information I do have.

If I were a parent in the Smyrna School District who has dealt with what you feel may be harsh discipline tactics, I would definitely attend this meeting.  The meeting notice doesn’t specify if they will have public comment or not.  Who knows, maybe I will show up!

Christina Board Passes MOU With New Castle County School Districts With No Public Input

The Christina School District Board of Education passed a controversial motion to send the same funds going to charter schools (from the infamous settlement) to all traditional New Castle County School Districts (except for NCC Vo-Tech).  The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) would bind Christina School District to sending the same funds they agreed upon in the charter school settlement to Red Clay Consolidated, Brandywine, Colonial, Appoquinimink, and Smyrna School Districts.  The price tag for this year will be $350,000 but this is a “forever” contract so those funds will go to those districts for students choicing out of Christina to those districts forever.  But another motion, that would have allowed for public comment on the issue, failed.  Board member John Young summed up the meeting in three paragraphs earlier this morning on Facebook.  Newly sworn-in board member Angela Mitchell abstained from both votes.

Last night, Christina School District BOE motioned to settle with Red Clay, Brandywine, Appoquinimink, Smryna and Colonial for $350K + this year and each year in the future forever pursuant to the charter school settlement. The meeting was at Sarah Pyle Academy at 7PM.

It was moved to approve the settlement MOU. Then it was moved to be voted on at the 6.13.17 meeting so the public could comment more fully. There was debate. Board members indicated that public opinion would have NO SWAY in their vote. The vote to vote on 6.13.17 was defeated 2 YES, 4 NO, 1 Abstention. Then the vote to approve handing over CSD monies without input from the public was approved 5 YES, 1 NO, 1 abstention. Of course all votes were public, but if you want details feel free to PM me. I am reeling from shock that board members and key employee(s) deliberately and intentionally told the taxpayers to go to hell with regards to their input. My disappointment extends beyond the board and includes CSD employees and the Supers of all NCC schools and Smyrna SD. An unreal night, I assure you.

I hope there is VOCIFEROUS public comment on 6.13.17 to protest the way the board operated tonight.

I always hated the settlement with the charters.  But, let us all hope this is the last song on this record…

Delaware Parents Of Students With Disabilities: Your Immediate Input Is Essential!!!!!

The Delaware Department of Education released (finally) the Delaware Special Education Strategic Plan.  It will be available for public comment until June 5th.  I strongly encourage all parents of special needs children in Delaware to very carefully go through every single line of this plan.  I will be doing the same on this blog from now until then and I will be putting my breakdown into public comment form for the plan as well.  I do want to thank the very hard work of the Special Education Strategic Planning Group who spent many hours and days, volunteer I may add, to work on this plan.  The group consisted of 24 Delawareans, a moderator, and various employees of the Delaware Dept. of Education.  As well, former Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky as well as current Secretary, Dr. Susan Bunting, provided support for the plan.  I would especially like to thank State Rep. Kim Williams and Dr. Michele Marinucci, the Special Education Coordinator for the Woodbridge School District, for getting this large group of people together during a time when it could have been completely different (and not to the benefit of students with disabilities).

At first glance, I see both positive and negative things in the plan.  It isn’t going to please everyone.  But it is a start and more than we had before.  This isn’t a time to throw stones, but it is a time to let your thoughts be known.  Public comment for this plan is as follows, as per the Delaware DOE:

Public comment for this document can be sent to matthew.korobkin@doe.k12.de.us. Public comments can also be mailed to: 
Matthew Korobkin 
Special Education Officer for Strategic Planning and Evaluation 
Delaware Department of Education 
401 Federal Street Suite 2 
Dover, Delaware 19901 

 

**UPDATED**Christina Public Comment By Board Member Alleges Involvement Of Other Board Members In Hate Emails

I don’t normally take down blog posts.  I have sometimes done so in the past, but it is not the norm.  I have received information in the past that I have never written about since it was a matter best dealt with by the authorities.  Given that the matter I wrote about in this article is potentially a part of a current police investigation, I have chosen to take the post down.  If I feel the situation bears putting it up again, I will certainly do so.  Thank you for understanding.