On August 8th, Delaware Governor John Carney signed Senate Bill #242 which allows the State of Delaware to enter into Pay For Success contracts. The legislation sets the parameters for how this will work. In a nutshell, an investor or organization pitches a program to a state agency and fronts all the money for it. If the program is a success, the state pays them. If it fails, they are out. How will this work in public education? Continue reading
I’ve been wanting to do this for years! I’ve changed this blog to include links to every single Delaware school district and charter school. As well, I’ve added all the Delaware media (newspaper and radio) websites. I’ve included many State of Delaware websites: Delaware DOE, Governor Carney’s website, The General Assembly, Auditor of Accounts, Attorney General and more! Various education support groups have been added: DSEA, Delaware Charter Schools Network, Delaware School Boards Association, Delaware Association of School Administrators and more! You will still be able to find a list of current Delaware blogs as well as closed Delaware blogs. I cleaned up those lists to take out ones that are not current anymore (nothing written in 2018) and those that are non-functional. In addition, I’ve added some links to what I call “transparency” sites that folks ask me about all the time. I’ve found a ton of information over the years at many of these links and so can you!
If you are not on these list of links and would like to be added, please let me know. I try to get everything but I’m not perfect!
I hope these changes will allow Delaware citizens, parents, students, teachers and more be able to navigate through our state easier. These are just the first of many changes coming to Exceptional Delaware!
Last night, parents of Providence Creek Academy students attended an open house at the Clayton charter school. Many were wondering where all the teachers from last year went. Many teachers quit due to the shenanigans involving management at the school. One parent said it looks like 90% of their former teaching staff is gone now. Many parents have wondered what is going on with the school since I wrote some pretty damaging articles last month. It has been very quiet, as if some type of gag order went out. It has become more than obvious that former teachers no longer wanted to put up with what is going on there and opted for better employment elsewhere. As for all these new teachers it is only a matter of time before they realize what they signed up for.
How the state of Delaware can turn a blind eye to this school is beyond me. Once again, I have nothing against the school but rather the leadership, the rubberstamp board, and those that follow the administration with their undying loyalty and subservience. There is something rotten in the foundation of this school but nobody wants to call Chuck and Audrey out on the carpet in full public view. Why? If you quit there is absolutely no reason not to go public. I want to believe former teachers feel PCA was a toxic work environment. That is NOT good for kids. Speak out. Let folks know what is really going on there. This is a school that has seen more turnovers than a Pepperidge Farm store. Parents want consistency at schools, not this. The former “We’re Worried” group appears to be defunct since most of them most likely said screw it and found jobs elsewhere. That doesn’t change the situation on the ground at PCA.
As for all the financial fraud and the cover-up that went on with it, I sincerely hope the State is looking into that. Cause the Delaware Department of Education certainly isn’t. Chuck is obviously good at covering his tracks but there are always bread crumbs. There has still be no formal announcement of formal charges against ex-employee Shanna Simmens. There has to be a reason for that. If it is a case where Chuck and Audrey have that much influence that they are just waiting for the statute of limitations to run out, that is a crying shame. That shows corruption unheard of in this state. I can’t for the life of me figure out why parents would willingly send their children to a school run by such devious and corrupt people.
For those who have reached out to me wanting to know more, I sincerely wish I had more to tell you. I wish our State would do more. But Delaware is proving to be as crooked as they come when it comes to protecting leaders who are in it more for themselves than for the benefit of children. Disgusting…
PCA is having a board meeting next Tuesday evening, August 29th, in their library at 7pm. If I were PCA parents, I would go and demand answers from this Board of Directors, especially Board President Amy Santos. Enough is enough.
Has anyone ever heard of Gayle George Educational Consultants? I haven’t. I looked. I really looked. I used all the Google tricks in my arsenal and I couldn’t find anything about this group. They aren’t licensed in Delaware as a business either. I would think anyone would do their due diligence before entering into a contract with this mysterious and possibly mythical company. I would NOT sign a contract worth $49,980.00 either. Especially a contract with a possibly made up company who just happened to come up with a contract worth $20 less than the amount where the district involved would have to submit a request for proposal (RFP) through the State of Delaware. Because then the contract would go through the bidding process and Gayle George Educational Consulting would have to go through a rigorous state process. I wouldn’t sign this contract. Will the Christina School District Board of Education sign this tonight at their board meeting?
Today, on Town Square Delaware, members of The Delaware Met Board of Directors broke the public veil of silence and spoke out on the issues surrounding the school. Based on this information and other information that has been sent my way, I have put a picture together of the events that happened last week at the embattled charter school
On Monday, a squirrel got into a transformer causing the power to go out at the school. As a result, there was no school on 9/21. On Tuesday, the students returned to school. Where it gets a bit hazy is what happened next. But what is certain there was no school from 9/23 to 9/25 due to emergency professional development for the teachers:
With the blessing of the Department of Education, we chose to give our teachers professional development time last week to assess these needs and make adjustment.
I believe the school, based on discussion from their Monday night board meeting, did attempt to reach out to parents to let them know about these unforeseen days off which were not on their website calendar. On Wednesday 9/23, based on their agenda for their 9/28 meeting, the Board met in a Special Board meeting. There was no agenda on their website, so it is difficult to surmise what was discussed at this board meeting. On Friday, shortly before noon, I received two emails indicating the school was closing the next week due to violence, gang activity, fighting and Innovative Schools, the school’s management organization, severing ties. I emailed the DOE and the school immediately for any type of confirmation. To date, no one responded to any of my emails. The school has this information, and chose to ignore me completely.
At the same time, we began to be made aware of whispers in our community and beyond that the school had already chosen to close. To answer these rumors, it was important for the Board to hold a special meeting.
This would have been the second special board meeting, so what was the reason for the first? I knew of Delaware Met, but up until Friday I had never heard a peep about this school aside from an occasional article here and there. The only time I wrote about them on here was for their performance award application and their award of $175,000.00. The school had and still has every opportunity to contact me, and they know how to. Back to Friday, a few other sources confirmed the earlier email I received. To be honest, I thought the email was a joke, or someone trying to give me false information, which happens more than you think as a blogger. I’m sure mainstream reporters can attest to this as well. Other sources confirmed this information, except for one part: the part about Innovative Schools cutting ties with the school. For someone to send that to me, it would have to be someone with inside information. Since other sources were already vetting all the other information, I knew this story had legs so I published it. While the DOE and I are battling on several issues, I sincerely reached out to them and the school.
Over the weekend, I did an extensive amount of research on the school, their student population, their application with the DOE, their finances, how they acquired the property at 920 N. French St, and other material on the property kept popping up as I was looking. As I collected the information, it provided a wealth of articles. In the meantime, the school put up their notice of the second special board meeting at some point over the weekend which I saw Sunday night. As well, they put an announcement up on their Facebook page about an important announcement the next day and they hoped everyone would be there. I’m not sure what their announcement was, but I responded to their post and addressed what I heard point blank. To date, no one responded to my public plea for information.
On Monday, I focused on the history of the property. Meanwhile, the school was giving information to the News Journal and alleging that the “rumors” were causing more harm than help. Rumors which they knew came from this blog, they had my email address, they could have responded on Facebook, or even commented on the many articles that went up over four days. Meanwhile, thousands of Delawareans were reading what I wrote with complete silence from the school aside from cryptic Facebook messages and even more cryptic board agenda announcements where they announced they were going to vote if they should keep their charter. Without a charter, there is no school. No school would ever put up a notice like that over “rumors”.
On Monday evening, the board voted to keep the school open. There was a great deal of discussion concerning enrollment, best practices for the teachers, financial viability, and school culture. Many members of the community attended this board meeting that would not have normally if the “rumors” had not surfaced. Serious questions arose out of this board meeting and deep concerns about the school’s ability to service and educate a very high population of special needs students. Many of the teachers are not seasoned, and the school had (at that point) two special education teachers with a population of 60 IEPs, and more projected. Legislators, reporters, and citizens attended this board meeting, and the bulk of them left feeling very perplexed at the administration of this school.
I’m not sure if Delaware charter schools have received a “don’t respond to the blogger” email. But more often than not, no one from the charters respond after an inquiry before I publish or after I publish based on information that is already in the public domain. I am open to communication. If you disagree with something or find my information is not factual, please reach out to me. I have fixed information based on a different perception or not being able to find information many times. Most reporters have. I don’t consider myself a “journalist” per se, but I do devote quite a bit of free time looking for answers and I write based on what I found. I also offer my opinion which sets me apart from the typical newspaper or television reporter.
Yes, I had a bad response with a charter once upon a time. Yes, I don’t like the idea of unelected boards. No, I don’t hate charters. I hate what many of the adults do at charters. I get charter parents going ballistic on me cause I dare to write about “their” school. If they want to give me facts, I am up for that. But one commenter seemed offended that I dared to question what she wrote. It’s a free world. And while I respect anonymity, understand that I have no idea who you are. I don’t know if you are the school, the DOE, or a parent. I was taught by a college professor that they key to life is not in the answers, but in the questions. I will always ask the questions based on the facts that are presented to me or that I find.
With that being said, these are my biggest questions concerning The Delaware Met AND the property:
- When did the school know they had a large population of special needs students coming and what did they do to prepare for it?
- Who is their special education coordinator?
- Why do they have no financial information on their website?
- What does Innovative Schools do for $380,000 in two plus years?
- Why did Innovative Schools pay $1 million to the Charter School Development Corporation who in turn bought 920 N. French St from the State of Delaware for an undisclosed and not in the public domain amount?
- Why does The Delaware Met need Innovative Schools?
- Why does one of their board members allow the school to pay the company he is a chair of?
- Why does another board member work for the same company that handles the school’s finances?
- Did the school reach out to other charters or districts for help with their student population?
- Did a student bring a gun to the school on the very first day?
- What was the purpose of the board’s special board meeting on 9/23?
- What was the big announcement revealed to students on Monday 9/28?
- How is a student with an IEP accommodated while at an internship?
- Does any member of the board benefit in any way from an internship by a student?
- Has the school considered hiring a School Resource Officer?
- Where is their student handbook?
- What is their enrollment as of 11:59pm this evening, including basic, moderate, complex and intensive subgroups for their large special education population?
- Are their teachers adequately trained to determine what is behavior and what may be a manifestation of a student’s disability?
- Do they have the staff to complete IEP meetings since so many of the IEPs may need to be relooked at based on their curriculum?
- How much did the State of Delaware sell 920 N. French St. to Charter School Development Corporation and why is this not on any public website?
- Where did the State of Delaware put this revenue?
- Is there any immediate danger to staff or students at the school due to its Brownfield Site designation?
- What was the nature of the work Duffield Associates did for the school last year?
- What is the DOE’s duty to ensure new charter schools are ready from day one to run a school?
- What are the DOE’s next steps in terms of this school?
While I understand the school can’t answer all these questions, I welcome Innovative Schools or the State of Delaware to answer them as well if it applies to them. You may not feel like you have to answer them, but I’m like a dog without a bone sometimes…
The address of 920 N. French St. in Wilmington, DE is listed as a “Brownfield Site”. This is also the home of the Delaware Met. What is a Brownfield Site? The Environmental Protection Agency defines a Brownfield Site as:
With certain legal exclusions and additions, the term “brownfield site” means real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.
On September 11th, 2002, 920 N. French St. was designated a Brownfield Site by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources (DNREC). In the below report, a plan was put forth and finalized in order to clean up the site to allow for commercial development of the property. Duffield Associates was the company that formulated the plan to clean up the site and remove any contaminants from the soil.
Not long after, MBNA bought the property. When MBNA was bought by Bank Of America, the company soon sold their former employee training center to the State of Delaware for $6.5 million dollars. The State of Delaware bought the property on October 12, 2007. However, the appropriation allowing for the purchase of this building was not approved until the 144th General Assembly on July 1st, 2008, as part of House Bill 525.
Section 31. State Employee Workforce, Education and Training Center. The Section 1 Addendum
14 to this Act contains an appropriation of $6,500,000 for the State Employee Workforce, Education and
15 Training Center, currently owned by the Bank of America. These certain tracts of land are located in the
16 vicinity of 920 N. French Street in the City of Wilmington, New Castle County, and the State of Delaware,
17 being known as New Castle County Tax Parcel numbers 2603520172, 2603520255, 2603520185,
18 2603520190 and 2603520195. For the acquisition of this property, the real property procurement
19 procedures in 29 Del. C. §9505 shall not apply.
For the entire time the State of Delaware owned the building, the property was vacant. Why would a State purchase a property and never use it? In March of 2014, the State of Delaware issued a public notice to any interested buyers of the property. Both The Delaware Met and Freire Charter School were actively seeking the property, and eventually the property was sold to Charter School Development Corporation, under the official company name of CDSCPC 920 French LLC. The address for this company is 6731 COLUMBIA GATEWAY DRIVE, SUITE 220, COLUMBIA, MD 21046. But Charter School Development Corporation is a non-profit company based out of Arizona. The sale occurred on November 14th, 2014, which set into motion a great deal of controversy for Freire Charter School of Wilmington and the Midtown Brandywine Neighborhood Association when Freire was forced to find a new location for their school. There is no public record of how much the State of Delaware sold the building to Charter School Development Corporation. In Fiscal Year 2012, Innovative Schools donated $1 million dollars to Charter School Development Corporation. In FY2014, the company bought 920 N. French St. and leased it to Innovative Schools who is subleasing the property to The Delaware Met.
In Fiscal Year 2015, the Delaware Met paid a considerable sum of money to Duffield & Associates to do work at the property, the very same company that was contracted in 2002 to clean up the soil at the site. From the Delaware Online Checkbook:
All told, Delaware Met paid Duffield Associates $37,654.83 in a seven month period. On The Delaware Met’s original application, Jeff Bross is listed as the Chairman of Duffield Associates and was also listed as a board member of Delaware Met. Interestingly enough, while searching for information about Delaware Met and Duffield, this link came up: http://dedoe.schoolwires.net/Errors/AccessDenied.aspx with a message stating the page was inactive or protected and to contact Alison May at the Delaware DOE if you don’t have an account or have any questions. Jeff Bross is still listed as a Board Member at Delaware Met and is still the Chairman of Duffield Associates. 2014 was a busy year for Duffield and Bross as they were also contracted to help with the I-495 Bridge Debacle. So is there a clear conflict of interest with having the Chair of Duffield on the Board at the school while also hiring his company to do an extensive amount of work? Duffield’s expertise seems to be in fixing structural issues at sites where there could be large problems. What was the problem with 920 N. French St.? In the school’s only board minutes posted on their website from October 8th, 2014 there is no mention of pending work with Duffield Associates or a vote to retain their services. Bross attended the meeting. As well, another board member named Richelle Talbert sits on the board at Delaware Met and is also an employee of the school’s charter management organization, Innovative Schools. Surely that is a conflict of interest as well.
These are questions that need to be asked by our legislators and the Delaware Department of Education in determining what in the world happened with this charter school.
The Delaware DOE is making a push for another year of the Smarter Balanced Assessment not counting towards teacher evaluations. So that will mean, if the US Department of Education allows this, the scores won’t hit the teachers ratings. Pretty cool, right? WRONG. This means nothing for the schools themselves. They will still be counted in the Annual Yearly Performance ratings. Not a big deal, right? WRONG. Does the term priority schools ring any bells?
At the January House Education Committee meeting, Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams asked Penny Schwinn, the Chief Accountability and Performance Officer for the DOE if there would be any new priority school announcements this year. Schwinn said no. But was she talking about 2015 or Fiscal Year 2015? The last priority schools announcement was made on September 4th based on the DCAS ratings, a test the state isn’t using anymore because it wasn’t aligned with the Common Core State Standards. But if teachers were implementing those standards in schools as far back as three years ago, then all of the data is skewed at the DOE with accountability ratings. They don’t care.
Even though legislators met with the DOE about holding off on the teacher accountability ratings for another year and we have no transparency on that, the DOE still ignored the request, thus the request to Governor Markell. Do not see any attempt by the DOE to be a peace offering to the citizens of Delaware, including teachers, schools, parents and students. They have become a bureaucracy filled with a lot of young people who are using Delaware as their stepping stone to their next big thing. When the Schwinns, Ruszkowskis, and Watsons leave the DOE, another KIPP/TFA/Charter Leader will be waiting in the wings to fulfill the bastardized legacy of the Markell/Rodel vision.
If these legislators who are so desperately trying to help the students and teachers of Delaware truly want to make true and lasting change, they need to do the following:
1) Introduce legislation to repeal House Bill 334 from the 147th General Assembly allowing the Smarter Balanced Assessment to begin with and ban any high-stakes assessments in the State of Delaware.
2) Introduce legislation to make the Secretary of Education and the State Board of Education elected officials.
3) Introduce legislation banning Common Core in Delaware.
4) Introduce legislation that the State Board of Education cannot approve any Elementary and Secondary Education Act waivers without approval by the General Assembly.
Do these things, and the “getting angrier by the day” citizens of Delaware who put you in office will begin to take you seriously when it comes to education. These are bold moves, but all four of these have put Delaware in the position it is now: stagnant education tied to federal standards with a Department that has fattened themselves up at the expense of the students of Delaware. You may get some flack from Governor Markell over these matters, but there could be a strong case for http://delcode.delaware.gov/constitution/constitution-07.shtml if you were able to get a subpoena for a certain individual’s full financial records including stock portfolios and any pertinent information tied with the sources of said funding.
For the students of Delaware who are not opted out of the state assessment, you will be told on Monday to make sure you get a lot of sleep in the coming weeks, eat your Wheaties, and do your best. All the rigor will have paid off, cause it’s Smarter Balanced time! You will be in front of computers for hours with expectations that you can all type. You will see teachers attentive to your every need during these tests. Some may offer you incentives to do well. Others may tell you what will happen if you do bad.
Know this students of Delaware: the last thing the DOE wants is a corruption of data. They don’t want to see students start the test and then intentionally get problems wrong. They don’t want to see students scores not even count because of this. That would be oh so very wrong to do. It would tamper with the whole system and cause headaches from Dover to Washington D.C. and could make certain politicians ask some very tough questions about the validity of these tests. I know students are doing this in other states, at very high levels, but let those states deal with that. We are Delaware, and we believe every student deserves a top-notch education. Let’s close those performance gaps kids. Just because you may have special needs, or you are a minority, or you are low-income doesn’t mean you can’t perform just like everyone else. Ignore the scientifically proven facts that show these facts. That kid next to you, you can be the same as him. The one to the other side of you, ignore his frustration when he can’t type. This is what 3rd grade should be about! And 10th! You should all be the same. Take that original thought out of your head. If you want to paint something in art, do that at home. Art is about writing about art. Don’t worry about playing in a band. We want you to explain how bands have changed 4th of July ceremonies as opposed to playing pre-recorded music. We want you to evaluate and elaborate the same as everyone else but don’t question anything, because that’s wrong. There is one standard for all, and we must follow it. Why play sports when through the joy of personalized learning you can learn about sports on a computer. You won’t have to deal with a teacher, cause she will just give you some quick guidance on how to do your online programs for the day. This is your life, but don’t worry, it’s all been predetermined for you. And don’t worry about your teachers, because they will all be the same.
Meanwhile, students in Finland have NO standardized testing, lower classroom sizes, shorter school days, better special education, less poverty, teachers who have high value in society, and to top it off, students get more recess. And they are considered the best in the world.
The following is a list of ALL the current Delaware Department of Education contracts, when they began and when the contract ends. I have also included if it is a Delaware company, if the contract can be extended, and anything odd about it. A few of these are just random contracts, but some contain some very interesting information. Our state DOE is paying tons of money to outside vendors that are simply data coaches. With Race to the Top kaput, how much money can the state keep handing out to these organizations? Some of these companies are very new, as in created in the last five years.
DOE1312-STARS EVAL Delaware Stars for Early Success Evaluation 8010 DOE 6/15/2013 12/31/2015, Awarded Vendor: The Rand Corporation, Contract: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_1312-StarsEval_AN.pdf
DOE1309-INFRASTRUC Infrastructure Fund for Early Learning Programs 8010 DOE 4/1/2013 12/31/2015, Awarded Vendor: Children and Families First, Inc., Contract: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_1309-INFRAS_AN.pdf Delaware Company
DOE 14017-CG 2.0 Common Ground 2.0 8613 DOE 7/8/2014 6/30/2015, Awarded Vendor: Solution Tree, Inc., Contract: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_14017-CG_AN.pdf Extension Available, Delaware Company (website shows as based in Indiana)
DOE1311-ELLI Early Learning Leadership Initiative (ELLI) 8010 DOE 6/15/2013 12/31/2015, Awarded Vendor: National-Louis University, Contract: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_1311-ELLI_AN.pdf
DOE12013-RecruitWeb Statewide Recruitment Website Talent Management Portal 8312 DOE 4/26/2013 10/21/2017, Awarded Vendor: SearchSoft Solutions, Inc. Contract: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_12013-Recruit_AN.pdf ***updated: IS on DE Online Checkbook, must have been a quirk, nothing showing for FY 2015 as of yet***
DOE13001-DPAS-II Technology-based Educator Evaluation Management System (DPAS-II) 8111 DOE 5/6/2013 7/15/2015, Awarded Vendor: BloomBoard, Contract: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_13001-DPAS_AN.pdf ***one of the owners, Jason Lange, worked for New Schools Venture Fund, an education focused non-profit venture philanthropy firm***
DOE1310-COMPENSATI Compensation, Retention and Education Awards (CORE) 8010 DOE 5/1/2013 12/31/2015, Awarded Vendor: Delaware Association For The Education Of Young Children, Contract: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_1310-COMPENSATI_AN.pdf Delaware Company ***on website for DAEYC when you go to Board of Directors it is password protected but other online sources do show who they are***
DOE1414-FLOORPLAN School Floor Plans 8110 DOE 7/1/2014 6/30/2015, Awarded Vendor: ABHA Architects, Contract: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_1414-FLOORPLAN_AN.pdf Delaware Company, Extension Available
DOE1313-SAHE Teacher Preparation Improvement 8613 DOE 12/20/2013 6/15/2015, Awarded Vendors: University of Delaware AND Wilmington University, Contract: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_1313-TeacherPrep_AN.pdf Both Delaware Companies
DOE2014-07 Delaware Commission on Early Education and the Economy 8010 DOE 1/1/2014 12/31/2015, Awarded Vendor: Ranie Good (Strategic Goods), Contract: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_201407-EarlyEd_AN.pdf Delaware Company, Extension Available
DOE2013-04PRVDRENGMT Early Learner Provider Engagement 8010 DOE 1/1/2014 12/31/2015, Awarded Vendor: Delaware Association for the Education of Young Children, Contract: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_201304-EarLearnerPro_AN.pdf Extension Available, Delaware company
DOE1403SupptAdvmt Services To Support Advancement of Select Initiative/Early Learning Challenge 8010 DOE 10/1/2013 12/31/2015, Awarded Vendor: Susan Mitchell, Contract: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_1403-SupptAdvmt_AN.pdf Extension Available
DOE1416-PAT RFP Parents As Teachers 8613 DOE 7/1/2014 6/30/2017, Awarded Vendors: Christina School District- Parent Early Education Center AND Lake Forest School- Delaware Early Childhood Center, Contract: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_1416-PAT_AN.pdf Both Delaware Companies, Extension Available
DOE1317-DelSchool Communications Campaign For Delaware Public Schools 8210 DOE 5/6/2014 4/15/2016, Awarded Vendor: GMMB Inc. Contract: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_1317-DelSchool_AN.pdf
DOE 1412-DECommEnga Community Engagement and Marketing for the Early Learning Challenge 8210 DOE 2/1/2014 12/31/2015, Awarded Vendor: Donna Marie King, Contract: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_1412-DECommEnga_AN.pdf Delaware Company, Extension Available
DOE1415-ALT ROUTE Alternative Routes to Teacher Certification Evaluation 8613 DOE 7/15/2014 2/28/2015, Awarded Vendor: Tembo, Inc. Contract: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_1415-ALT_ROUTE_AN.pdf
DOE-12001MIDDLESCHOOL Middle School College Preparedness Curriculum 8613 DOE 6/15/2012 1/31/2015, Awarded Vendors: Achieve 3000 Inc. AND Carnegie Learning, Inc. AND Compass Learning, Inc. Contract: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_GSS12001_AN4rev.pdf, Previous Awarded Vendor but Removed: College Board, Contract: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_GSS12001_AN1.pdf, Adds Compass Learning, Contract: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_GSS12001_AN2.pdf, Removes College Board: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_GSS12001_AN3.pdf Achieve 3000 Inc. is a Delaware Company, Extension Available
DOE1207-DandA test Drug and Alcohol Testing – School Transportation 8512 DOE 1/1/2012 12/31/2016, Awarded Vendor: i3Screen, Contract: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_1207DAtest_AN.pdf
DOE1409 ARTC Prep Alternative Route To Teacher Certification Coursework/Clinical Prep. Program 8610 DOE 9/19/2014 8/1/2017, Awarded Vendor: Relay Graduate School of Education, Contract: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_1409-ARTCPrep_AN.pdf ***wrote about this fast-track teacher program in Race To The Top/Rodel/Markell article***
DOE 1418-PLCs Job-Embedded Educator Supports to the State’s Profl Learning Communities (PLC) 8613 DOE 9/15/2014 6/30/2015, Awarded Vendor: Amplify Education, Inc., Contract: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_1418-PLCs_AN.pdf
The document in the article below this one, about Penny Schwinn’s presentation to the Delaware Department of Education went over many topics, including a student growth model. It talked about an RFP, which is an overview of what prospective vendors can look at to determine if they want to bid on the project. I have located the RFP on the state contract page. It is interesting with the wording for teacher evaluations….
The Delaware Department of Education and the Public Consulting Group have a relationship based on a contract, but the circumstance regarding the implementation of this contract are very alarming. This contract is to help support the Children Services Cost Recovery project, which provides federal Medicaid reimbursement to Delaware. PCG has had a vendor contract with the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) for many years, but it wasn’t until the end of 2011 that the DOE gained a contract with PCG.
When a student with disabilities receives Medicaid and also receives special education services through an IEP, the state can actually get part of the costs for the special education reimbursed to them. Special needs parents of a child with an IEP should receive a letter asking for authorization from the state to recover such costs. This could include occupational therapy, speech and language, or even a school nurse. This would be classified as School Based Health Providers. As per the DOE website, the letter should indicate something to this effect:
Written Notification to Parents/Guardians/Custodians
Regarding Use of Public Benefits or Insurance (MEDICAID)
You are receiving this written notification in order to provide you with information about your and your child’s rights and protections under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”). This information is to assist you in making an informed decision about whether you should give your written consent to allow your school district or charter school to use your or your child’s public benefits or insurance (Medicaid) to pay for special education and related services that your school district or charter school is required to provide at no cost to you under IDEA. This written notification must be provided to you before the school district obtains your consent for the first time and annually thereafter. Your rights include the following:
Before your school district or charter school can use your or your child’s public benefits or insurance (Medicaid) for the first time to pay for special education and related services under IDEA, the school district or charter school must obtain your signed and dated written consent.
Under Federal law—the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) and the confidentiality of information provisions in IDEA—your school district or charter school is required to obtain your written consent before disclosing personally identifiable information (such as your child’s name, address, social security number, student number, student number, IEP, or evaluation results) from your child’s education records to a party other than your school district or charter school, with some exceptions. In this situation, your school district or charter school is required to obtain your consent before disclosing personally identifiable information for billing purposes to the agency in your State that administers the public benefits or insurance (Medicaid) program. Your consent must include a statement specifying that you understand and agree that your school district or charter school may use your or your child’s public benefits or insurance (Medicaid) to pay for services under 34 CFR part 300, which are special education and related services under IDEA.
Your school district or charter school if the school district or charter school seeks to use your or your child’s public benefits or insurance (Medicaid).
Your school district or charter school may not require you to sign up for, or enroll in, a public benefits or insurance (Medicaid) program in order for your child to receive a free, appropriate public education (“FAPE”) under IDEA. Additionally, your school district or charter school may not require you to pay an out-of-pocket expense, such as the payment of a deductible or a co-pay amount for filing a claim for services that your school district or charter school is otherwise required to provide to your child free of charge. Finally, your school district or charter school may not use your or your child’s public benefits or insurance (Medicaid) if using those benefits or insurance (Medicaid) would: (a) decrease your available lifetime coverage or any other insured benefit, (b) cause you to pay for services that would otherwise be covered by your public benefits or insurance (Medicaid) program because your child also requires those services outside of the time that your child is in school; (c) increase your premium or lead to the cancellation of your public benefits or insurance (Medicaid); or (d) cause you to risk the loss of your or your child’s eligibility for home and community-based waivers that are based on your total health-related expenditures.
You may withdraw your consent to the disclosure of your child’s personally identifiable information to your State’s public benefits or insurance (Medicaid) program agency at any time.
If you provided your consent for your school district or charter school to disclose your child’s personally identifiable information to the State agency that is responsible for administering your public benefits or insurance (Medicaid) program, you have the right under 34 CFR part 99 (FERPA regulations) and 34 CFR part 300 (IDEA regulations) to withdraw that consent at any time. If you wish to withdraw your consent, you should ask your school district or charter school what procedures you would need to follow.
If you refuse to provide your consent, or subsequently withdraw your consent, your school district or charter school must ensure that your child is provided all required special education and related services at no charge to you or your child.
If you withdraw your consent or refuse to provide consent under the FERPA and IDEA regulations, your school district or charter school may not use your withdrawal of consent or refusal to provide consent to disclose personally identifiable information to a public benefits or insurance (Medicaid) program to deny your child the special education and related services he or she is otherwise entitled to receive under IDEA. Therefore, if you refuse to provide consent or withdraw consent, your school district or charter school has a continuing responsibility to ensure that your child is provided all required services necessary to receive an appropriate education at no charge to you or your child.
We hope that this information is helpful to you in making an informed decision regarding whether to allow your school district or charter school to use your or your child’s public benefits or insurance (Medicaid) to pay for special education and related services under IDEA.
What this notice does not mention is the specific corporation that is receiving a lot of private information based on this program, which is PCG.
Another result of this contract is what is called “A Random Moment In Time”, which is a computer system that contacts random Direct Service Providers in Delaware to log into the system and record what they were doing for one minute. The methodology behind this system is to provide accurate data to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) for billing purposes for Medicaid reimbursement. Since DHSS is the provider for Medicaid, CMS required the DOE to be included in this project due to special education and School Based Health Providers. The DOE had to utilize PCG as what is called a sole source provider due to a tight timeframe in which the state risked losing this source of revenue. Since PCG had an existing vendor status with DHSS, this gave the impetus for the DOE using PCG as a sole source vendor, which was approved by then Secretary of Education Lillian Lowery. As part of Delaware Medicaid, DHSS contracts with the Direct Service Providers for what is known as Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment Services given to those who receive Medicaid benefits under the age of 21. The criteria for this is set forth by the Delaware Medicaid Assistance Program (DMAP).
DMAP has a website which indicates what records are to be provided to DHSS or their contracted agents (PCG) by the School Based Health Providers. The website states the following:
All providers participating in the DMAP are required to maintain records that will disclose services rendered and billed under the program, and upon request, to make such records available to DHSS or its representatives in substantiation of any or all claims. These records should be retained a minimum of five (5) years in order to comply with all State and Federal regulations and laws.
In order for DHSS to fulfill its obligation to verify services provided to Medicaid eligible clients and that are paid for by Medicaid, providers must maintain auditable records that will substantiate the claim submitted to Medicaid.
At a minimum, the records must contain the following on each client:
• Notice of referral for physical therapy services by a licensed physician, updated annually
• Referral/authorization for services by an appropriately credentialed service provider
• Full assessment(s) in the appropriate discipline area(s) with pertinent documentation such as tests, evaluations, and diagnosis (updated at least every 3 years), and an annual reassessment documented in written format including narrative information summarizing the child’s status and the continuing need for treatment
• A treatment plan prepared by the respective therapist(s) that describes the goals/objectives and level of service(s) (i.e. type and frequency of service) needed. The treatment plan is required annually. A progress note is required approximately every six months or at a reasonable interval to document the student’s progress and the continuing need for service. An I.E.P. must be developed within 30 calendar days following the determination that a student is eligible for special education and related services.
• The name and title of the professional providing services and/or supervision
• Each occurrence of the student’s service, including the date, type, length, and scope of professional services provided
• Any significant contacts made in relation to the student
DHSS has also delegated authority to Children’s Services Cost Recovery Project (CSCRP) personnel to periodically review the ongoing operations of a school based health services provider with respect to:
• Certification requirements
• Service documentation, including need for services, treatment plans and case/progress notes
• Service practitioner’s qualifications
• Billing records
Where this gets real interesting is in the area of mental health school based health providers:
Mental Health Treatment Assessment
Assessment refers to the process of determining the need, nature, frequency and duration of treatment; deciding the needed coordination with others; and documenting these activities.
Mental Health screen has four primary components:
• Child study team meetings – a meeting of staff who have knowledge of a referred student to discuss the referral problem for the purpose of determining the next step in the screening process.
• Observations – a period of time spent observing a referred student in a natural setting for the purpose of determining student’s academic and/or interpersonal behaviors.
• Group testing – Psychologist’s or psychiatrist’s participation in administration of tests for the purpose of obtaining specific information about a student or group of students.
• Records review – Information gathering on a designated student by way of examining academic, health, behavioral and any other related records for the purpose of providing data relevant to concerns.
Evaluation includes a “Psycho-educational Assessment”. This assessment includes psychological and/or educational testing, typically for intellectual, personality, and/or educational evaluation of referred student, for diagnostic purposes resulting in the generation of a report. The psychological component of the assessment evaluates the intellectual, academic, perceptual motor skills, social and emotional adjustment, and readiness for learning.
Mental Health Treatment Services
Mental health treatment services includes the following therapeutic and related services:
• Individual Therapy – This service consists of supportive, interpretive, insight oriented and occasionally directive interventions.
• Group therapy – This service is designed to enhance socialization skills, peer interaction, consensual validation, expression of feelings, etc.
• Family Therapy – This service consists of sessions with one or more family members, for purposes of effecting changes within the family structure, communication, clarification of roles, etc.
• Case Consultation (Reimbursable for the time of the mental health professional only and must pertain specifically and completely to an individual student.) The role of consultation is monitoring, supervision, teaching and training of professionals, paraprofessionals, parents and student in the educational environment, home and/or community environment. Case consultation includes:
o Providing general information about a specific student’s handicapping condition
o Teaching special coping and intervention techniques necessary for the specific student’s interpersonal skills
o Recommendations for enhancing a specific student’s performance in educational environments
184.108.40.206 Mental Health Treatment Services: Service Procedures
The following services are included in the mental health treatment services category and should be used to document service provision for the purpose of reimbursement:
• Mental health treatment assessment
• Individual therapy – one therapist to one student
• Group therapy – one therapist to six or less students.
• Family therapy – one therapist to one or more family members of the student’s family
• Individual co-treatment therapy – two therapists to one student
• Group co-treatment therapy – two therapists to six or less students
• Family co-treatment therapy – two therapists to one or more family members of the student’s family
• Case consultation
Mental Health Treatment Services: Treatment Plan Requirements
An assessment and treatment plan are required annually. This treatment plan must be based on an evaluation by a qualified mental health treatment provider. Further, the treatment plan must indicate goals/objectives and level of service (type and frequency of service). A progress note is required approximately every six months or at a reasonable interval to document the student’s progress and the continuing need for service. The progress note must:
• Indicate where the student is in relation to the treatment plan goals
• Indicate if the treatment plan requires changes in the goals and/or objectives and
• Indicate if the type or frequency of the treatment requires modification.
So what records do the School Based Providers need to submit to DHSS and by default, PCG?
School based health services providers must make all records of services provided to students with special health needs available to Medicaid program personnel or its representatives for monitoring and auditing purposes. These providers must maintain the following information for at least five years on all individuals for whom claims have been submitted:
• Dates and results of all evaluations/assessments provided in the interest of establishing or modifying an IEP, including specific tests performed and copies of evaluation and diagnostic assessment reports
• Copies of the IEP/treatment plan documenting the need for the specific therapy, treatment or transportation service (updated annually)
• Documentation of the provision of service in the student’s record by individual therapists and individuals providing service, including:
o The date of service
o Signature of the therapist rendering the service
o Duration of the service
• Documentation of case notes, at a minimum of once a month, by the individual therapist or the individual providing the service. The definition of case note is a descriptive summary of service provided with identification of any isolated or recurring problems. If a practitioner chooses to document session notes, there is no need to document monthly case notes. Session notes must contain some written narrative.
• The provision of special transportation services will be documented by the responsible schools in a client specific, date specific format.
• Progress notes delineating the continuing need for service are required approximately every 6 months or at a reasonable interval to document the student’s progress.
This then helps to determine medical necessity:
Medical necessity will be determined by judging what is reasonable and necessary with reference to accepted standards of medical practice and treatment of the individual’s illness.
School based health services shall be determined medically necessary based upon the assessments and evaluations conducted and the prescribed care as found in the student’s treatment plan. The treatment plan shall be developed by a multi-disciplinary team, or by an authorized therapist or other authorized medical professional and signed by treatment team members. The treatment plan should address the medical necessity for the identified service(s).
Although a physician signature is not required on the treatment plan, evidence of annual physician referral is required for physical therapy services.
What other information needs to be provided to DHSS, and by default, PCG?
The student’s service record shall contain, but is not limited to, the following:
• Identifying data including name, address and phone number, sex, date of birth, next of kin, date of initial referral or assessment/evaluation, date of service initiation, and source of referral
• Date of most recent EPSDT screen
• Referral documentation by a physician or other health care professional
• Assessment, evaluation and testing reports
• Handicapping condition of the student and/or a diagnosis which has been determined using a recognized diagnostic system (e.g., ICD-9)
• An Individual Education Program, if the student is determined to need special education and related services
• A current treatment plan which sets forth the type, level and frequency of services provided to the student
• Progress notes and other relevant service documentation which denotes status of services and progress to identified service goals
• Documentation of each service rendered which describes the type of service(s) provided and the date the service(s) were provided
• Documentation supporting the discontinuation of services including treatment outcome(s) or referral for continued/enhanced services outside of the school based health services provider
RECORD MAINTENANCE A. Nursing Services B. Psychological and Counseling Services C. Speech, Language and Hearing Services D. Occupational Therapy E. Physical Therapy F. Transportation A through F should include student specific identifying information, amount of service, date of service and signature of provider. All records must be maintained for a period of at least five (5) years.
All of the above in regards to DMAP guidelines can be found here: https://www.dmap.state.de.us/downloads/manuals/School-Based.Services.Provider.Specific.pdf along with other more detailed information.
DMAP clearly states that student identifiable records must be provided to DHSS and by default, PCG, as their contracted 3rd party vendor. But does the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) recognize a contracted vendor, such as PCG, to be a party that is allowed to see all of the above types of records? A study done in 2008 through the Fordham Law School’s Center on Law and Information Policy, indicated this was a clear violation of FERPA in a similar situation in New Jersey. The Department of Treasure Purchase and Property Division had a contract with Public Consulting Group, but the contract called for personal identifying information regarding students with the New Jersey DOE. Because the contract was with a separate department, and not the DOE, the authors of the report stated the New Jersey DOE was out of compliance with FERPA based on this. They also found the following:
If the information we collected mentioned that the state used a third party vendor for the development of the system or for the storage of the data, we also made a request for a copy of the agreement with such third party vendor. Most states responded promptly; however, as of the date of this report, we have not received requested contracts from a few of the states. Also, some states may use third party vendors without disclosing those relationships publicly on their websites.
FERPA generally covers a local school district, or LEA, that receives funding from the Federal Government due to the LEA being part of a public school district. State Educational Agencies (SEA) typically aren’t covered under FERPA unless it has to do with records delivered from the LEA to the SEA. In the above, the Delaware DOE definitely receives a great deal of information from local school districts in regards to special education student identifiable data. The Fordham report goes on to state the following in regards to 3rd party vendor reception of student records and parental consent:
Another exception to the written consent requirement arises for educational agencies or institutions that disclose personally identifiable, non-directory information to organizations conducting studies on behalf of the educational agency or institution. To be in compliance, these studies must be conducted in order to develop, validate, or administer predictive tests, administer student aid programs, or improve instruction. The agency or institution may release information without prior written consent only if the study is conducted in a manner that does not permit personal identification of parents and students by anyone outside of the research organization and as long as the information is destroyed when no longer needed for the purposes for which the study was conducted. Recipients of information under this exception may not redisclose personally identifiable information outside of the research organization. Under this exception a school or school district may disclose educational records to a third party vendor that such school or district has contracted with for research purposes provided that the information disclosed to such vendors remains confidential and there is a schedule for deletion of such records following the completion of the stated purpose. This exception does not permit SEAs to disclose educational records to third parties for research purposes. Research contracts must be directly tied to the school or local education institution.
So how exactly does this related to PCG and their vendor contract with Delaware?
“…further disclosure by the state to any third party vendor is only permitted in narrow circumstances. The vendor must enter into an agreement with the state department of education, which provides that such vendor is a contractor and is under the direct control of the department. Any disclosures that do not meet this criterion, or that are done simply for research purposes, are not permitted. At least one state, New Jersey, does not appear to comply with this restriction. The New Jersey contract with Public Consulting Group is between the Public Consulting Group and The NJ State Department of Treasury Purchase and Property Division rather than the Department of Education and does not indicate that the Department of Education has direct control over the vendor.”
Does current FERPA law still agree with this?
99.31 Under what conditions is prior consent not required to disclose information?
(a) An educational agency or institution may disclose personally identifiable information from an education record of a student without the consent required by 99.30 if the disclosure meets one or more of the following conditions: (1)(i)(A) The disclosure is to other school officials, including teachers, within the agency or institution whom the agency or institution has determined to have legitimate educational interests. (B) A contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other party to whom an agency or institution has outsourced institutional services or functions may be considered a school official under this paragraph provided that the outside party– (1) Performs an institutional service or function for which the agency or institution would otherwise use employees; (2) Is under the direct control of the agency or institution with respect to the use and maintenance of education records; and (3) Is subject to the requirements of 99.33(a) governing the use and redisclosure of personally identifiable information from education records.
Based on those regulations, the answer would be yes. This means the Delaware DOE was out of compliance with FERPA regulations from the moment they began working with DHSS on the Children’s Services Cost Recovery Project until the time they signed a sole source vendor contract with PCG on 12/1/2011. This may be why Lowery had to act fast in obtaining PCG as a sole source vendor contractor in late 2011. From the time they were first notified in 2008, it took three years for the Delaware DOE to become compliant with the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services regulations. When it became a matter of the revenue being suspended due to this non-compliance issue, the DOE signed a very quick contract with PCG.
In terms of the ability for PCG to accurately protect data, I have not heard of any breach. But parents need to understand they do have access to a great deal of special needs student information, including personal identifiable information as well as psychological or psychiatric evaluations that could contain deeply private information. Parents need to know what they are signing when they sign the Medicaid reimbursement form when they obtain an IEP for their child. This would be a personal decision, but as a parent, I certainly won’t do it.
My investigation into PCG and the Delaware DOE wouldn’t have lasted as long if the DOE was more transparent on their website with vendor contracts. PCG is mentioned in one place on the DOE website, and that is on the Random Moment In Time training manual. Are they obligated to release this information? Probably not. But if they are having parents sign a form indicating information will be released for Medicaid reimbursement purposes, they should also include every single Delaware agency as well as 3rd party vendors that may be able to see this information. This isn’t a legal matter, but one of transparency and common sense. Parents need to know when they are signing a document of this sort what the full implication of that signature actually means. As well, with school based health providers, if they are required to keep their records for five years if they are involved with this program, where is that data stored? Is it protected?
Nowhere on the Delaware Awarded Contracts website does it show the contract between the Delaware DOE and Public Consulting Group or PCG. It does show two contracts through DHSS. I have seen the contract though, as a result of an FOIA request I submitted last weekend. This contract states PCG will work with the Delaware DOE on implementation of the Random Moment In Time study and the DOE’s share of the annual cost reporting and cost reconciliation for fiscal years 2009-2012. The contract has been extended each year since it ended on June 30, 2012, and the current extension will expire on June 30, 2015.
Is the timing coincidental for when the Fordham study was released, clearly showing non-compliance on the part of the New Jersey DOE with FERPA regulations, and when Delaware was notified of non-compliance with this very similar reimbursement program and the same vendor? That is not for me to judge. Just to report the facts as best I can with the information provided to me.
The Delaware DOE is not selling IEP information to anyone. But pertinent and private information is being released to third party vendors all over the country, and transparency laws need to be much stronger in the USA so all parents know exactly who is seeing this type of personal information.
I am personally disgusted that anyone would need to see case notes from what I would otherwise assume to be a private and confidential session between a student and a psychologist or psychiatrist. It sounds like HIPAA and FERPA need to get together and come to terms with some discrepancies. I understand the need for a reimbursement program, and the fact that Delaware has recovered $8 million dollars in revenue from the Children’s Services Cost Recovery program is probably a good thing for the state coffers. But the price, as usual, is students and their personal information. Is $8 million worth the time, money and resources spent dealing with PCG on this project? I am sure PCG provides other types of services with DHSS, but the tally on their bill for the last four years alone, as per Delaware Online Checkbook, is over $12 million dollars, so what is Delaware truly getting out of this? I am quite sure the Random Moment In Time system is an annoyance and burdensome to the school based health providers. Some are never picked at all for this study, while others are picked multiple times. Most teachers have never heard of it.
Based on my findings on PCG, they are aligned with some of the most loathed and despised entities promoting Common Core State Standards and high-stakes testing. In a survey released by Gallup yesterday, it showed the country is very divided among those who support Common Core and those who oppose it. Many states are struggling with very pissed off teachers who are justified in their opposition to this federal intrusion into public schools. The US DOE has come under fire in the past couple months from the GOP Senate due to how Arne Duncan and his cohorts are conducting business. Even President Obama may have a lawsuit against him based in part on how his administration has handled education reform in America. But here is Delaware, with our Governor Markell, Secretary of Education Murphy, the DOE and the State Board of Education, proudly cheerleading what a growing number of parents in this state are beginning to hate. The government in Delaware has aligned itself with many of these entities that promote this faulty education agenda. Does the state have a back-up plan if something happens that outlaws Common Core and the tests that go along with it? They may want to start thinking about this if the current trends stay on the same track. Meanwhile, companies like PCG will continue to reap the benefits of the system that allowed them to become richer and richer.
UPDATED at 3:20pm: http://www.hockessincommunitynews.com/article/20140818/NEWS/140819818 Apparently someone hacked into the Delaware State Treasury website this morning. Although not on a state server, I ask once again, how secure is our children’s private information?
Helpful links to get more out of this article: