Christina Board Member Rallies For Elizabeth Paige While Discussing Some Pretty Massive Problems With The District & Board

Christina School District Board of Education member John Young posted this tonight on his Facebook account.  I agree with a lot of what he said.  I haven’t written a lot about the divisiveness I believe is going on up there.  In my opinion, it is corruption at its finest.  Yes, I have my own election to worry about tomorrow.  But I’m glad John put into words what he has been feeling, as have many others.  It concerns me because I can see some parallels in Capital School District.  While the board doesn’t seem to have these kind of issues and the level of manipulation isn’t as high, it is, to some degree, present.  This is a long post from John Young, but it is well worth the read.  If you live up in Christina, please vote for Elizabeth Paige.  She earned her stripes a long time ago and Christina would not be the same without her.  It would be much worse…

Well, here we are: tomorrow is the day. Christina faces an election for one seat as we already prepare to welcome Meg Mason in July to replace the outgoing Dave Resler. CSD voters have a pretty stark choice in my opinion. Unbeknownst to many voters, there is a distinctly unique tone to this year’s school board race between Desiree Brady and Elizabeth Paige and for the most part it’s not being created by the candidates themselves. There is a disturbing set of forces in play, in my opinion. I am well aware that what I type next will have people confirming either their love for my willingness to speak the truth of the situation or their hatred of the same thing. I can live with both.

Our district has been in crisis for quite some time now and the processes that have yielded several key results have caused irreparable harm to the ability of our board and district to function well. Please note my very specific use of the word “processes”. Some of the processes that have created deep concern include: the hiring of the acting Superintendent, the referendum campaign, the hiring of a parent engagement coordinator, the hiring of a consultant on climate and discipline issues and most recently the unfinished process of selecting HOW to select the new permanent superintendent. This list is not inclusive of all concerns.

The yield of these processes are not as universally concerning as the actual processes themselves. During each of these processes, the board was controlled by one person and the information shared to the board from both her and the administration has been extremely restrictive and in my opinion damaging to the rights of our taxpayers to have board members make informed decisions. During this period, a minority of board members have asked for more information and sought to push through these political barriers. At almost every turn, these behaviors have been supported by key stakeholders, while in the minority, have chosen to ignore the greater good often to continue parochial support of programs and people they like, need, and desire to see remain in power. Meanwhile, real questions about real issues are not only being ignored, they are being hidden and in some cases the public is being lied to about how the district works. A perfect example is my recent questioning of the contract for school climate and discipline. No one I know in CSD feels we don’t have major opportunity for improvement here; however, I also don’t know anyone that feels the district should just hand over a $49,250 no-bid contract with no public notice or input. Except for the 4 board members that did just that in support of the acting superintendent and the extremely public acknowledgement of previous employment and friendship with the vendor. TO be clear, this is not an indictment of the vendor whatsoever, only the broken process that yielded the result.

The same forces that seek to keep CSD board members in the dark on issues and prevent board members from making informed votes are now seeking to remove one of the three members willing to stand up and actually ask questions in support of CSD not their own agendas. They are aligned to drive out Elizabeth Paige. The planted questions, the stolen signs, the opponent’s campaign, up to and including the obvious employment at the workplace of one of the referendum’s biggest supporters who is close friends with the acting superintendent is simply too much to ignore.

One of this groups most concerning tactics is the one where they distract people by making allegations of failing to collaborate or not being civil. The truth is, to them collaboration is only labeled as such if you agree with them, and their role as civility police is undermined by their own off stage hypocrisy on the same subject. Both are morally bankrupt offerings in the face of board members just trying to actually be stewards of our students, parents, and taxes. It is repulsive to me to watch our district fall prey to these petty and unbecoming tactics. I am well aware that some feel I am a divisive force on the board. I can totally see why. When I ask questions and I don’t get answers, I get mad. Guilty as charged. I would ask those that feel I am the problem to try, if only for a moment, to ask yourself how you would react if you were elected by the public to do a job and other public officials got in your way, on purpose. I can accept criticism on my tactics and can fully admit that my seemingly righteous anger, on stage at times, can be both interpreted and misinterpreted as counterproductive. However, what you get from me is the same, all the time. I am not a chameleon. I was elected to do right by our students and until I am voted off I will not shrink from that responsibility. Not. One. Inch. I only speak of myself in this endorsement letter to paint the picture that a vote for Elizabeth is not a vote for me. She does not act or react the way I do even if she sometimes is just as mad or concerned about Christina processes. A vote for Elizabeth is a vote for the same passion, brought in a different and perhaps much better way. Don’t be fooled by some of the terrible tactics being used to convince you that any sympathy to a cause that happens to be supported by anyone not seeking to remove her means she is in some sort of policy silo.

Elizabeth Paige and I do not agree on everything, but we do agree on this: our students and our taxpayers deserve a responsive school district befitting the trust and respect owed to its students, parents, educators, administrators and taxpayers alike. She also is an elected official who does not stop in the quest to bring those basic yet quintessential aspects to Christina.

If you value transparency, intellectual curiosity, courage, independent thinking and a reasoned, systemic, analytical approach to policy then please vote tomorrow for Elizabeth Paige. If you don’t value those qualities, please Vote May 11th.

School Board Campaign Sign Theft Hits A New Low

I’ve had a few of my campaign signs disappear, but I expected that.  I know one was removed from Del-Dot, along with one of my opponents because you aren’t allowed to put them at this location.  Not sure why, but the big wooden sign for the Dover Days festival is there too.  One met a tragic end from what I assume was a riding lawn mower.  But I digress.

Liz Paige, a candidate (and incumbent) for the Christina School Board, had ALL of her signs stolen that she put at the polling stations for the election tomorrow.  In Christina, candidates are allowed to put their signs up at the schools that are the polling places ahead of time.  In Capital you can only do so the day of the election.  Paige put hers up weeks ago.  Ironically, Desiree Brady, Paige’s opponent, still has her signs up.  Paige confirmed the signs disappeared this weekend.  What the idiot who did this may not realize is many of the schools DO have cameras.  So good luck with that one sign thief.  Today, signs were found in a dumpster.  And they could very well have fingerprints on them.

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Stealing campaign signs is ILLEGAL folks.  Even for a school board election.  If someone is stupid enough to steal school board campaign signs, I would suggest some therapy.  Paige’s sign is below.  If you see them hanging out anywhere in the Christina area, call the cops and let them know.   I endorsed Paige a couple months ago, but since she has to deal with this idiocy, I’m going to endorse her again!  Have I ever double endorsed anyone?

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But as if what happened to her signs weren’t bad enough, apparently a teacher in the district actually got caught handing out campaign flyers for Desiree Brady to other teachers… during school hours. The teacher was at work on Friday, went to the Principal’s office, and wasn’t there today. For the love of God, just let people run for the school board. It’s not like it’s Donald Trump! It’s a school board. While immensely important to folks who live in the area, is it really worth your job or your criminal record to do stupid stuff?

The most important thing all citizens in Delaware can do tomorrow in districts where there is a contest is get out and vote.  For Christina residents, I would vote for Paige.  For Capital residents, what can I say?  Vote for Kevin Ohlandt.  I heard he has a lot of ideas! 🙂

Shameless Plug: Vote For Kevin Ohlandt for Capital Board of Education on May 10th!!!!!

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Kilroy Blasts Local Union And Is Publius Running For A Board?

This is a two-in-one article, but they are closely related.  Kilroy also wrote a reaction piece to the News Journal’s article on the opt-out penalty, but his article didn’t really delve into the article.  Instead, he blasted the unions and blamed them for Race To The Top.  It was seven years ago Kilroy, let it go!  But he didn’t stop there, he also attempted to do something with Red Clay Educators Association President Mike Matthews.  I’m not sure what his motivation was with all of this, but it is obvious Kilroy has a major beef with the unions.  Which got me thinking (always a dangerous thing, I know) about what might really be going on.

For all of Kilroy’s rants about Race To The Top and DSEA’s role in it, we NEVER hear one word about the charters support for Race To The Top.  They had a role as well.  Is there benefit for Kilroy to go gangbusters on unions and not the charters?  Probably not, but then I looked at who the bulk of the commenters are on Kilroy’s nowadays.  Die-hard charter and choice lovers.  Led by the always controversial Publius.  We know Kilroy has sidebars with a lot of his commenters.  I usually talk to him every couple weeks myself.  But is Kilroy being inundated with the charter special sauce?  And why would someone do that?  Perhaps if they were running for a local school board in the next few years.  That’s right.  Word on the street has it that none other than Publius himself will be running for a local school board!  While some (okay, many) know who Publius really is, you won’t hear it from me.

It would greatly benefit Publius to have Kilroy turn the public against the local unions.  Is Publius working Kilroy?  I sure hope not, because Kilroy wouldn’t be too happy if he found out!  But in my eyes, Publius on a local school board is more frightening than the last episode of American Horror Story!  Say what you will about DSEA.  I agree with some of Kilroy’s points on them.  They could have taken a much stronger stand on opt-out.  I have no clue how they really stand on the opt-out penalty and what their role is.  Someone is either telling the truth or they are lying.  Yeah, sometimes the truth is in the middle, but in Delaware politics, someone is usually playing someone else for their own benefit.  It’s a tricky slope to sled down.

I firmly believe, that with WEIC and the redistricting effort, Mike Matthews wanted to take on a greater role because he knew the responsibilities of being President of RCEA were going to greatly increase this year.  More focus and focus plus schools as well.  And we all know Mike will stand up to the DOE, which is desperately needed these days, and I wish all local education associations would do this instead of sitting on the fence.  Kilroy said this has never happened before.  Well guess what Kilroy, the time to defend teachers against the onslaught of the DOE has never been greater!

Did Milford PAC Violate Election Laws In Last School Board Election? One Milford Parent Says Yes. Did Denn’s Office Agree?

Last May, citizens in the Milford School District elected Yvette Dennehy to the Milford School District Board of Education.  As I reported at the time, Dennehy won by a landslide.

Milford: Dennehy 386, Evans 149, DelRossi 44

But was there something going on behind the scenes?  Milford resident Jenn Cinelli-Miller thinks so.  She wrote a complaint to the Delaware Attorney General’s Office of Public Trust for a legal opinion (which does not appear on the Attorney General website).  The opinion, seen below, was dated July 20th, 2015.



After the Attorney General’s office ruled on Cinelli-Miller’s complaint, she wrote to the media.  A letter appeared in the Milford Chronicle.  Cinelli-Miller gave me permission to reprint her letter here for context in this article:

Throwing in the towel

I grew up in Camden and graduated from CR. I then attend Wesley College in Dover and relocated to the Washington, DC area.   I spent almost 10 years working for the Federal Government before coming back to Delaware. When I decided to move back I looked at many areas but decided on Milford for many reasons. Milford reminded me of what Dover and Camden were when I was growing up – small and community oriented. I can’t say that now about where I came from but I can say it about Milford. But Milford has one really big problem – cronyism.

I always hope that we can get past this disease but I find, in Delaware especially, that it is impossible.   I moved here in 2006. By 2008 I was involved with Morris Elementary’s PTO and helping with events. I continued to get involved in education statewide as well as locally. I served on the Citizen’s Oversight Committee (CBOC) for the Milford School District from 2010-2014 and continued to attend meetings until recently. I was invited to serve on the University of Delaware’s Autism Education Committee for the Blueprint for Action that was developed to improve services statewide for children and adults on the spectrum. I have attended Individual Educational Plan meetings with other parents and I have met with (then) Lt. Governor Denn, the Director of Delaware’s Homeland Security and State Board of Education member and numerous Senators and Representatives to discuss issues in education in Delaware.

Why am I providing all of this information? Because I am so fed up and angry with everything I have heard and read in regards to the referendum I want you to understand how I got to this point. One of the recent letters to the editor asked “Where Were You?” I was working hard and volunteering for education – where were you? Until a year ago I had never even heard of you. You and another board member, at the recent community meeting, responded to my pointing out that Buccaneer Tomorrow had not distributed flyers throughout the town – as you had claimed, stated that it was “my job” to help. No, no it isn’t. My job #1 is raising my child. My job #2 pays my bills. I am a volunteer and have been for years. Welcome to the party.

In regards to the other Board member, I don’t know him personally, but at a community meeting a few years ago he approached me and told me “change causes chaos.” Not sure I want anyone who believes that around educational decisions. With no change you remain stagnant. Education should be constantly changing and advancing especially with our constantly changing world and technology. Which leads me to the Board – you all are elected officials. If you can’t handle criticism and you keep remaining defensive you should not be on the Board. Your skin needs to be much thicker and you need to be less defensive especially when community members are making very valid points. This Board has made several bad decisions and failed to listen to the community as a whole. I personally can say “I told you so” about many of those decisions. Your failure to even listen to the CBOC – an advisory committee – is proof that you have no desire to hear anyone else’s opinion.

I can only praise one Board member – Renate Willey – for asking questions and trying to do what is best for the students and the District as a whole. The other letter to the editor was appalling as it insulted students. However, I would agree with a community member who posted on Facebook “consider the source.” This letter should not have received a response – most importantly not from the Superintendent of the District. I have asked repeatedly that she stop responding and stop putting comments out that are not helpful. She responds just as the Board does – defensive and alienating. Stop – just stop!   I have tried for years to help. I have made points that have been scoffed at but then the same points are made by other community members and you ignore them as well. This District is dysfunctional. We need help and you refuse to ask for it from all members of the community. You ask for it from cronies. You ask for it from people who post pictures of them and their friends with the caption “We are Milford” under it and there are only 10 people all the same age in the picture. Really? Last time I checked Milford was made up of more than 10 people and of many different ages, nationalities, beliefs and personalities. That is what makes us a community. So it is with much sadness that I throw in the towel. Its someone else’s turn to take the wheel and try to steer this ship back on course.

With much love for Milford, the District and our Teachers, Staff and students

Jenn Cinelli-Miller


A few weeks later, she picked the towel back up and wrote a letter to several different media outlets in Delaware.  Not one of the newspapers or websites posted her letter.  She asked me to run it, which I am today.  I’m also including the email she sent to Delaware media.


From: Jenn Cinelli
Date: Tue, Aug 18, 2015 at 9:42 AM
Subject: Letter to the Editor
To: melissasteele@capegazette.com, Trish Vernon <thv@capegazette.com>, newsroom@capegazette.com, Publisher@seafordstar.com, newsroom@newszap.com, Andy West <awest@newszap.com>, letters@delawareonline.com, cbarrish@delawareonline.com, dan@delaware1059.com, “Finney, Mike” <mike.finney@doverpost.com>
Cc: dennis.kelleher@state.de.us, allison.reardon@state.de.us, coe_vote@state.de.us

Hello,

My name is Jenn Cinelli-Miller and I am a resident of Milford, DE.  I am writing to you to correct the record about the Milford School District and the School Board Election held in May 2015.  Recently, the Milford Chronicle stated in an article written by its Editor that the District was “Cleared” of any wrong doing.  He went on to try to make my reporting the election misconduct seem trivial and the elected candidate even claimed that she was “exonerated.”  I find it interesting that she is able to speak to the media but not to the Attorney General’s office.  I served almost eight years at the Federal Election Commission in DC and ended my service as a Senior Compliance Analyst.  I take the election process seriously which is why I contacted the superintendent of the District in April 2015 to let her know that the candidate was receiving an unfair advantage by being given the platform of the referendum when the other candidates, who also supported the referendum, were not given the same exposure.  She ignored my concern and I finally contacted the Commissioner of Elections who advised me to file a complaint with the Attorney General.  Additionally, the letter from the Attorney General’s office dated July 20, 2015, states “If  the district knew that a member of Buccaneer Tomorrow intended to run for school board and they were using the referendum election to further that  effort, allowing them to participate in district-sponsored events might constitute misconduct on the part of the district, particularly if other candidates for school board were denied equal access.”  The letter goes on to state that nothing found in their investigation revealed that the District had any knowledge of the candidate’s intent to run.  On April 29, 2015 and again on May 3, 2015 the candidate appeared in local news publications (Milford Live and the Milford Beacon respectively) announcing her candidacy for the School Board.  I didn’t realize that an investigation would not check the public record for the facts.  Also, said candidate filed her Statement of Candidacy for the School Board election on March 4, 2015 and proceeded to participate not only as head of the Buccaneer Tomorrow PAC but also spoke at each and every public event and presentation on behalf of the District.  If this is not election misconduct I don’t know what is and it should not be allowed to continue.  This type of behavior is shameful and there should be consequences for it – at the very least removal of the elected candidate and a new election.  I ask that you publish the attached letter from the Attorney General’s office in its entirety and let the people of Milford decide.  I continue to fight for fair, honest reporting and elections.  The people have a right to know the truth.  
 
Thank you,
Jenn Cinelli-Miller, Milford

It sounds like Cinelli-Miller isn’t willing to throw in the towel quite yet on this issue, nor do I think she should.  What say you Delaware?

In Taylor vs. Paylor for Capital School Board, You Have To Vote For Taylor On May 12th!!!!

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The Capital School District Board of Education election is just three days from now, on May 12th.  For the three candidates running for the Capital School Board, I am officially endorsing Ralph Taylor.  The other two candidates, Sharese Paylor and Peter Servon, don’t hold a candle to Taylor.

There was a candidate forum a couple weeks ago in Dover, and for the Capital candidates, Taylor and Servon showed up.  Paylor didn’t attend this forum.  In an article by David Paulk with The Dover Post, Taylor said the following about Common Core:

No, I’m not in favor of Common Core. I believe that the standard itself, nobody’s really able to understand it, nobody’s able to articulate it to families. It was put in place so quickly. If you got something that so many people have so many questions about why don’t we review it a little bit more, why don’t we slow our roll a little bit. We have kids in classrooms that are week after week preparing for the standardized tests so we can show the world that we have standards. If we’re showing the world that we have standards, if we’re teaching the tests, are we educating? And I think that’s where the flaw is with this standard.

Servon, on the other hand, took a very casual stance with Common Core, as if everyone was okay with it and parents are just overreacting:

As I understand Common Core it’s a national level decision on what should be taught in the subject matter. In my belief it should be general topics, general ideas. The decision on how to teach those ideas and topics is made by the states and by the districts. It’s a minimal requirement that every kid should know in the country. I don’t see anything wrong with having those types of standards. As far as educating the parents I think it needs to be stated simply—it’s just a minimal standard parents need to understand what the school is requiring to implement those Common Core standards.

In another forum at Central Middle School last Tuesday, all three candidates showed up.  We were able to see a little more insight into Paylor.  At the January Capital board meeting, many citizens in the area demanded a reason for why Dover High School’s Principal Evelyn Edney did not have her contract renewed.  Many stated they were going to complain to Governor Markell and said the board had to reveal the reason.  The board has not given a reason since that meeting, nor should they in my opinion.  This is an employment decision, and the Board is not obligated to give reasons for not renewing a contract.  Some individuals, including Paylor, hinted at racial reasons for Edney’s departure.  I don’t buy this considering two other Capital principals I have met are African -American.  Shortly after this meeting, Paylor announced her intention to run for the board.

In an article in the The Delaware State News, reporter Eleanor LaPrade quoted Paylor from the Capital forum as saying “the board shouldn’t override Dr. Thomas, since he was the one who evaluated Dr. Edney’s performance.”  But there could be other factors nobody knows about except the board.  Employment decisions are done during a board’s executive session in Delaware, and are not subject to FOIA law.

I’ve met Taylor a couple times.  Once last summer at the 4th of July when he was running for State Representative.  He lost in a primary to Sean Lynn.  I saw him a couple months ago at a deli and congratulated him on running for the Capital board.  What I like about Taylor is his views on the Smarter Balanced Assessment, opt-out, Common Core and local control.  He told me last summer he is against the Federal intrusion in local education and supports opt-out.  He also doesn’t believe teacher evaluations should be done with standardized test scores.  Taylor believes in the community playing a larger part in Capital’s future.  Servon seems to be a Brandywine guy (where he teaches) based on his comments in both the articles, and Capital certainly doesn’t need that!  Paylor, in my opinion, has an agenda based on one board decision, and that should not be a determining factor is running for a school board.  Taylor would be a good fit with the board, and his many years in law enforcement could definitely give a unique perspective to the board.

With this election, the winner will replace outgoing President Kay Dietz-Sass.  The highlight of her tenure was the opening of the new Dover High School last year.  Another board member, Brian Lewis, resigned due to winning a councilman seat for the City of Dover in the May election where he ran unopposed.  There will be a special election, most likely in July, to fill Lewis’ seat.

Capital School District residents can vote at any of the three polling places from 10am to 8pm on Tuesday, May 12th: William Henry Middle School, East Dover Elementary and Hartly Elementary School.  Please remember, it’s Taylor, not Paylor, who should join Matthew Lindell, Sean Christiansen, and John Martin Jr. on the board!