Last night, the Delaware State Board of Education unanimously put Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security on formal review for academic and financial reasons. The 6-0 vote puts the New Castle charter school through a two-month review period where they have to meet with the Charter School Accountability Committee and go through public hearings. The placement of a charter school to formal review status does not mean they are being shut down. Putting a school under formal review is the process. Any decision to leave a school open or shut it down takes place after a formal review and the findings that come out of that.
I knew their enrollment was low but that isn’t the only reason they went under the formal review knife. Academics played a big part. This is always tough for me to support because I loathe the use of standardized testing in punishing any school. With DAPSS, they went from Smarter Balanced to the SAT in a two-year period. In 2015, the SAT was remade to include Common Core.
Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting will make her recommendation to the State Board of Education at their March 15th meeting and then the State Board votes on that recommendation. The letter from Secretary Bunting notifying the school of their formal review status, the timeline, and their performance matrices for each category are included below.
Either the Charter School Office was ready for the State Board to vote for the formal review or they are able to predict the future, because the below PDF was created at 1pm yesterday, four hours before the State Board of Education began their meeting! I would have to say the school’s founder, Charlie Copeland, is not happy about this!
The September 7th Discipline Hearing for Student J at Smyrna Middle School had two very big witnesses about to testify. After Smyrna Middle School Associate Principal John Camponelli and Principal Steve Gott gave their testimony, it was time for the Smyrna School District Assistant Superintendent Patrik Williams to testify in the discipline hearing against student J. J’s entire future depended on what happened next. Continue reading The Smyrna School District Zero Tolerance Pipeline Part 5: Patrik Williams And J Testify & The Smyrna Board Makes A Decision
The Delaware Charter School Accountability Committee had their final meeting with the Delaware STEM Academy on June 2nd. The report came out tonight. Prognosis: Don’t open the charter school! The main reason for their formal review was very low enrollment numbers. How low? They had 105 students enrolled when they went on formal review a month and a half ago. In the 45 days since… a whopping 124 according to the below report. Their charter calls for 250 students. They had to meet 80% of that. They are a bit under 50%.
I think the time has come to say we are getting “chartered out” in Delaware. This isn’t to say they aren’t popular and are growing. But new charters? Not so much. Out of the more recent charter school openings, I would have to say Great Oaks and First State Military School are doing well. Delaware Design-Lab is going through some growing pains. Delaware Met got the heave-ho before they could start a third marking period. Mapleton Charter School at Whitehall was going to move to Dover, but then backed out of that so they would need to reapply if they ever figure out what they are doing. And now Delaware STEM Academy. On top of Pencader, Moyer, and Reach Academy for Girls closing. And Delaware College Prep will close it’s doors at the end of this month. While this isn’t related at all, I did notice the State Board has not approved any new charters in Delaware since I started blogging just about two years ago…
The State Board of Education bit off more than they could chew when they approved all the new charter schools in 2013 and 2014. We are seeing what happens when there are too many charter schools, especially in upper New Castle County. As local districts beef up their programs, there are only so many students that can be choiced out of a school district. And after Delaware Met, parents up there have to a be a bit cautious. I am glad to see the Charter School Accountability Committee asking the right questions. These are things we need to see from the State Board of Education when they vote on new charters.
The final report from the Charter School Accountability Committee is below. Delaware STEM Academy will have their last public hearing tomorrow night. Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky will make his recommendation to the State Board of Education at the June 16th meeting. At that point, the State Board of Education will vote to revoke the school’s charter or let them open. My gut says revocation. The enrollment is just too low and everything in the below report doesn’t leave much room for error…
After last week’s recommendation by the Delaware Charter School Accountability Committee to revoke the Delaware Met’s charter effective January 22nd, 2016, the school’s leader has decided to resign. Tricia Hunter Crafton submitted her resignation on December 3rd. As well, the board appears to be in turmoil and an emergency board meeting was scheduled for 12/4/15. Good luck finding this on their website though. It doesn’t look like they have been doing much on there at all. In fact, they didn’t even have a board meeting in November! One of the board members reached out to me anonymously and explained how frustrated they are with everything going on.
This train is in motion, and barring a miracle, I don’t think anything will stop this school from closing down. The decision will be made by the Delaware State Board of Education on December 17th. Meanwhile, surrounding districts and charters are planning for an influx of new students. Some schools are already balking at taking these students, even though it is in the students’ local feeder pattern. These students need to find a school fast, and any district or charter that receives them needs to do so with welcome arms and be very proactive in making sure these students needs are met. For the special education students, these schools need to be on top of this. These students have already missed a lot of time, and they need help.
As well, I am very curious what happens with the building. Delaware Met sub-leases the school from Innovative School Development Corporation who leases it from a company called Charter School Development Corporation. That company bought the building from the State of Delaware who had bought the building from Bank of America who acquired the building in the MBNA merger back in 2006. This is prime real estate. First State Montessori Academy is right next to it, and down the street is the Community Education Building, which currently houses three charter schools. This is all in downtown Wilmington. In fact, the building is right next door to Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn’s office! The bizarre part with this whole funky real estate deal was that Innovate Schools donated $1 million dollars to the Charter School Development Corporation prior to leasing the 920 N. French St. location from them for Delaware Met.
Hunter Crafton joined the Delaware Met last Spring. In the third week of September, she went out on maternity leave and returned in mid-November. She was only back at the school for a few weeks before quitting. While she is leaving, I am hearing some of the board members are gearing for a fight of some sort. I don’t think this is going to be as easy as the Delaware DOE seems to think.