I attended the Christina Board of Education meeting tonight. To say it was chaos would be an understatement. Picture watching France capitulate to Germany in 1940, and that was the Fatal Four on the Christina Board tonight. Enough to get the damn MOUs passed. The Delaware DOE is now clear to reject this MOU and give the district their three options: close, convert to charter, or hand over the schools to a management organization.
The board I saw two weeks ago was vastly different. Tonight there were two clear sides: one that seems to have been brainwashed by the DOE during the non-public and non-recorded negotiation meeting on 1/9, and the other three members of the board who were not given all the pertinent information from the other.
The vote for the priority schools MOUs passed 4-3. But not before board members John Young and Elizabeth Paige attempted to add amendments to the previously approved MOU and modified by the superintendent and the other four board members. Every amendment Young and Paige offered was turned down, with the exception being Paige’s very wise suggestion of deleting the comment “Any other documents are secondary to this document”. That passed 4-3 after teachers in the audience almost had an open revolt over that line which would make their teacher contracts null and void.
Delaware State Representative John Kowalko stormed out when he realized this board was going to pass the MOUs as written. By this time I suspected the four board members had changed the past couple weeks, and the superintendent as well. I asked to give public comment and openly told the four members of the board and the superintendent I didn’t trust them and I requested a FOIA for all board members emails between themselves and the DOE going back to January 1st of this year. I told the Fatal Four they weren’t looking at the audience the way the other two were (from my vantage point, I couldn’t see if board member Ressler was or not, but he was one of the good guys tonight, so I didn’t care).
Red Clay teacher Mike Matthews told board member George Evans he has been on the board 35 years in response to Evan’s comment to Christina teacher Jackie Kook about this “putting the kids first”. Matthews is now campaigning for anyone to run against Evans in the upcoming board seat election.
The Fatal Four who voted Yes for the MOUs were President Fred Polaski, George Evans, Shirley Sutton Saffer, and the one board member I never thought would do anything with an MOU but tear it up, Harrie Ellen Minnehan. The heroes of the night were Young, Paige and Ressler. It seemed obvious an alliance had developed amongst the Fatal Four and Superintendent Dr. Freeman Williams. This cabal, in my opinion, purposely didn’t tell the other board members key information, which was the reason for my FOIA request. If the DOE’s goal was to split the board and turn them against each other, they succeeded.
This was a board divided, and the Fatal Four discounted anything the other three had to say. And it’s not like the other three were just talking about nothing. All of the amendments and their discussion made sense. The Heroic Three were blindsided by the Fatal Four. The Fatal Four should have just told the audience at the beginning of the night they were going to vote yes for the mass destruction of public education in Delaware and saved us all a miserable three and a half hours of sheer hell with their crossed arms and smug angry faces. By the time I requested my FOIA, I felt like I was going to vomit in my mouth if Polaski said “The DOE wants…” one more time.