In spite of a very intensive hiring process, we were unable to find many teachers with urban experience or a familiarity with the local community and those that we did hire were from charter schools that had closed such as Moyer Academy. Those teachers brought with them the “alternative school” mentality, along with lingering conflicts from the past years, which perpetuated the punitive, authoritarian mindset, which is the antithesis of the BPL design. We had hoped that the past relationships with the students would have a positive effect on their relationships with students, though this was not the case.
Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse with Delaware Met, I ran across many updated documents on the Delaware Department of Education Charter School website regarding their formal review. The number one issue at this point seems to be their enrollment. If they were approved for 260 students, and they must maintain 80% of that as required by Delaware law, that would be 208 students. As of their September 30th count, they had 215 students. In these documents, they announced four more students have withdrawn since 9/30, and six more will withdraw from the school very soon. This puts their enrollment at 205. They are now completely out of compliance with their charter.
The letter from the Delaware DOE’s Exceptional Children’s Resources Group is very telling. 59 IEPs were looked at by the DOE, and ALL 59 are out of compliance. Delaware Met’s Special Education coordinator, Sue Ogden, used to work in the Delaware prison system as a special education coordinator, so she should be well aware of DOE timelines and what is needed in student’s IEPs. While the below documents give many reasons for the school challenges, I still can’t help but think many of the events at this school could have been avoided. It is now near the end of November, and NONE of the IEPs are in compliance as of November 25th. This does not bode well for students with disabilities at this school which now represent over 28% of the school population. Furthermore, in the narrative in the documents below, there is talk about going through 80 IEPs. Have 21 students with disabilities who had IEPs left the school?
For their in-school suspension, students are required to write the following:
And another “behaviour lesson”:
Now, with a school filled with at a minimum, 59 IEPs, and admitted issues on teacher parts where they treated a school like an “alternative” school, are the in-school suspensions warranted? I can’t answer that, but I do know in-school suspension does not count towards a manifestation determination hearing. Only out-of-school suspensions or expulsion. And is it just me, and I get the whole concept of restorative justice, but isn’t the point of school discipline already a punishment? What could a student do to “make up to the school” for their behavior? What if they have a disability and it was a manifestation of their disability and they don’t even realize it was a “behavior”?
This “in-school suspension room”. I have some big issues with it. It seems like an easy solution to stop discipline problems. Student gets in trouble, send them to the ISS room. The below documents also state their special education coordinator, Sue Ogden, will make sure accommodations are being followed while students are in there. But is one of their accommodations to be sent to an ISS room if they get in trouble? There are more questions than answers here. Sue Ogden, as I stated earlier, used to work in the prison system. Even with all its issues and students with potential legal issues, the Delaware Met is not a prison.
The Charter School Accountability Committee will meet with Delaware Met for their final formal review meeting next Tuesday, from 8:30-10:00am. At this point, the committee will determine their recommendation for the school. The Secretary of Education and the State Board of Education will decide the school’s fate at the December State Board of Education meeting on December 17th. In the meantime, read the below documents to find out the school’s interpretation of events. I still have this nagging feeling there is much more going on at this school…
Delaware Met response to Charter School Accountability Committee
Specific Information requested by the Charter School Accountability Committee
Exceptional Children Resources Group monitoring and letter sent to Delaware Met
Teachers Emails regarding Science and Social Studies Curriculum
Board of Directors questions to Innovative Schools with response from them