Delaware Attorney General’s Office Ignores FOIA Law In, Uhm, Opinion About, Uhm, A FOIA Complaint!

Carve me up and serve me on a platter!  I have seen a lot in Delaware the past few years, but this one takes the proverbial cake!  On May 26th, I submitted a FOIA complaint against Early College High School regarding their Board of Director meetings.  It was three-fold.  The Delaware Attorney General’s office responded today.  I get what they were saying regarding my first two complaints.  But the third one.  Oh.  My.  God.  This is stuff kids on Romper Room know about FOIA! Continue reading “Delaware Attorney General’s Office Ignores FOIA Law In, Uhm, Opinion About, Uhm, A FOIA Complaint!”

Advertisements

Delaware School Success Framework Working Group At It Again

With very little fanfare and public notices on the State of Delaware Public Meeting website, the Delaware School Success Framework (DSSF) Working Group has met again.  It seems, based on the below presentation and meeting minutes, the purpose of the group is to tweak the school “report card” to align with the Delaware Every Student Succeeds Act state plan.  This is a MUST read for teachers and parents.

The last time this group met, one of their biggest recommendations was that the Delaware Dept. of Education should NOT have a penalty on schools for parents their child out of the state standardized test, now the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The Delaware DOE did not honor that recommendation and put a penalty into the framework that would have punished schools over decisions made by parents.  Eventually, when Delaware submitted their ESSA state plan earlier this Spring, they took out the penalty.

The next meeting will be on Tuesday, May 30th, from 9:30am to 12noon at the TechRADD Facility (WARR building) in Dover.

My big question is this: Where is the Delaware State Educators Association representative on this?  When this group was the Accountability Framework Working Group (AFWG), the number of members was much larger.  Who are the members?

Darren Guido, Caesar Rodney

Carisa Pepper, Indian River

Joseph Jones, New Castle Co. Vo-Tech

Chris Havrilla, Woodbridge

Lisa Morris, Delmar

Ken Hutchins, Appoquinimink

Keisha Brinkley, Appoquinimink

Ed Emmett, Positive Outcomes Charter School

From the Delaware DOE, it looks like various folks are coming to the meetings from multiple areas within the state agency: Luke Rhine, Brittany Mauney, Terry Richard, Carolyn Lazar, Jen Koester, Ted Jarrell, Chantel Janiszewski, Elizabeth Jetter, Eric Niebrzydowski, Shana Payne, Denise Stouffer, Gregory Fulkerson, and Lindsay Lewis.  I believe Janiszewski is the facilitator of this new DSSF working group.

 

Emails To Delaware Superintendents From DSCYF Confirms Definitive Discontinuation Of Services Was Planned

The Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families sent two emails to Delaware Superintendents regarding the discontinuation of day treatment centers in Delaware.  I submitted a FOIA request to five Delaware Superintendents last evening to obtain these emails.  One of them got to me first so I canceled the other requests.  Both these emails give very definitive timeframes for when this was going to happen.  The State of Delaware reversed course on this issue, but make no mistake, this was going to happen prior to that decision.  One important thing from the second email is the glaring fact that TODAY is the last day for any district or charter school to make a referral for a day treatment center in Delaware.  So my question would be that if this change is on hold, is today still the last day for any referrals?  The second email had a lot of attachments included in the FOIA request.  Apparently there will be public meetings where they will present this.  One of them already happened in New Castle County on September 8th, but I would highly recommend they have another one since this story just broke in mainstream media two days ago.

Email sent to Delaware Superintendents 8/26/16

Follow-Up Email sent to Delaware Superintendents 9/9/16 and Key Information

 

Delaware Education Funding: Can The Mess Created By Governor Markell Even Be Fixed?

Someone asked if public comment (can) be received by the committee?  We will need to look at how we collect public/stakeholder input.

The above quote will be explained later, but it is very indicative of what happens in Delaware.

DarrylScott

One of the biggest topics in Delaware these days is funding for education.  It is everywhere.  The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission wants to completely revamp how we fund our schools and included this in their redistricting plan which will be presented to the Delaware State Board of Education later today.  The Vision Coalition has this as one of their six areas to get to the “North Star” of educational excellence in Delaware.  But there is an even bigger group meeting these days to tackle this elephant in the room.

The Senate Joint Resolution #4 Education Funding Improvement Commission has been meeting since early November.  I was able to obtain the minutes from their first meeting and I had some very deep concerns about some of the things I saw in there.  But before I get to that, there are a lot of interesting names on this committee.  The legislation called for 19 members but there are 24 on this committee.  How does that even happen?

Chair: Former State Representative Darryl Scott

State Rep. Earl Jaques

State Rep. Ruth Briggs-King

State Senator David Sokola

State Senator Gary Simpson

Woodbridge Superintendent Heath Chasanov

*Delaware Association of School Administrators Kevin Carson

Delaware PTA Vice-President Ashley Dalzell-Gray

Delaware State Education Association Director of Legislation and Political Organizing Kristin Dwyer

New Castle County Vo-Tech Superintendent Vicki Gehrt

Woodbridge Board Member Walter Gilefski

State of Delaware Deputy Controller General Mike Jackson

State of Delaware Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director Brian Maxwell

Office of the Governor Education Policy Adviser Lindsay O’Mara

Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens Chairperson Robert Overmiller

*University of Delaware Center for Applied Demography & Survey Research Director Ed Ratledge

*Delaware Technical & Community College Chairman of the Board Mark Stellini

Delaware State Board of Education Member Barbara Rutt

Christina Cultural Arts Center Executive Director Raye Jones Avery

Kuumba Academy Head of School Sally Maldonado

Corporation Service Company President Rodman Ward III

Latin American Community Center Vice President of Development Claudia Pena Porretti

*Rodel Foundation of Delaware Vice President for Policy & Practice Madeleine Bayard

Support Staff for the Committee: Executive Director of the State Board of Education Donna Johnson and Secretary of Education Office Policy Advisor Tina Shockley

I have seen many of these names on various DOE working groups, legislative task forces and committees, and so forth.  Some are new to me.  Some of these are very affiliated with Rodel and the Delaware Business Roundtable.  Some are very charter affiliated.  But as usual, aside from one representative from the Delaware PTA, parents get the shaft.  We are always shut out of groups like this.  To answer my earlier question about how this group has more members than what the legislation called for, the answer was found here:

Three community members with special knowledge of education finance or special ability to contribute to discussion, appointed by Governor: Ed Ratledge, Madeleine Bayard, Mark Stellini, Kevin Carson

Whoever put this up on the DOE website must be using some odd form of Common Core math because I see four names there, not three…

Darryl Scott was the former Chair of the House Education Committee.  He served three terms as State Representative from 2009-2015.  I am very curious how a retired State Rep becomes not only the Chair of an education funding task force but also serves on the Southern Regional Education Board.

Why is the information for these meetings buried on the DOE website and not put on the General Assembly page for SJR #4?  This is a legislative task force.

What concerns me the most about the below minutes is the quote at the top of this article.  This is a public committee which is allowed to have public comment, no questions asked.  The fact that a group like this isn’t sure how that will work stinks of non-transparency.  These minutes were not found on the Delaware General Assembly Website.  But when you look at the minutes, we see who decides how public comment can be given and viewed:

Donna Johnson advised that we will set up a website where all materials will be posted.  An email address will be set up to receive public comment.

I’m sorry, but Donna Johnson is support staff, not a voting member of this committee.  Why is she calling the shots on transparency?  She is not a member of the General Assembly who enacted this legislation.  As for the topics for upcoming meetings, who sets that up?

Chairman Scott noted that the next meeting will be held the week after Thanksgiving and that Tina Shockley will initiate a Doodle poll for the next meeting.

Who decides what is put on this Doodle poll?  Another Department of Education employee.  Who is running the show here?  Of course we know anything education related that happens in Delaware is run by Governor Markell.  And once again he is using the DOE to call the shots.  So much for transparency and an open and democratic commission…

At their December 9th meeting, a presentation was given by Mike Griffiths, the School Finance Strategist with a company called Education Commission of the States.  This is yet another think tank type of company in America dealing with how to “fix” education.  Each state has a group of Commissioners.  For Delaware, the Commissioners are Governor Jack Markell, Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky, Lindsay O’ Mara (Markell’s Education Policy Advisor), Senator David Sokola, and… Madeleine Bayard, Vice-President of Policy and Practice for the Rodel Foundation of Delaware.  Senator Sokola is on the Steering Committee for this organization.  Griffith’s presentation is here:

As well, Michael Morton from the Office of the Comptroller General’s office gave a very good presentation on Delaware School Finances.  These are always tricky waters to navigate through for the average citizen, but I found this guide helped me to understand it better:

This is going to be a very interesting commission to keep track of.  And once again, we have three different “coalitions” tackling school funding: WEIC, Vision Coalition, and this group…

We are seeing education funding play out in every single public school in the state.  Schools are lacking resources and staff while the bloated Department of Education continues to shell out millions upon millions of dollars to corporate education reform companies.  If Delaware wants to truly get more funding into our schools, this is the first place where funds can be reallocated.  There should be no discussions about property tax re-assessments or weighted funding until the excess fat is trimmed out of the DOE.  But look who is controlling this behind the scenes…  This is Jack Markell’s mess.  He will slide out of the Governor’s seat and leave the wreckage for Delaware to clean up.  Thanks for that Governor…