Odyssey Charter School teachers and staff voted and an overwhelming majority decided to join the Delaware State Education Association. This is the second charter school in Delaware to do so in 2018. Last Spring, the Charter School of Wilmington also voted to join DSEA. In 1997, Positive Outcomes joined DSEA but opted out in 2000. Delaware College Prep joined in 2012 but closed a few years later due to low enrollment.
With 131 for and 16 against, over 89% of the educators in the school decided a teachers union was the best option for them. Prior to 2018, it was virtually unheard of for Delaware charters to unionize. What turned the tide?
For Odyssey, the decision was clear- they did not like decisions the board was making and felt their voices were not being heard. When former leader Nick Manolakos did not have his contract renewed, the school hired two to take his place. But the tipping point was when their former Board President, who had just resigned, became a leading contender for a third highly paid administrator.
Over the summer this led to those teachers and parents questioning the board about decisions that would affect the school. Parents saw fundraiser after fundraiser to get more money for the school but didn’t feel the money was going towards what the school promised. But they had money for all these administrators.
Congratulations to Odyssey Charter School for joining DSEA. With two joining this year, will more Delaware charters follow? Even with forces joining together to muffle DSEA it has become more apparent than ever that teachers want respect and to have their voice heard. They are the second most important part of a school after the students. They have rights and deserve to organize and fight for what is theirs. They deserve due process and the right to air grievances.
Parents of students at Odyssey Charter School received the following email tonight from the Head of School, Denise Parks. If Odyssey teachers and staff do vote to unionize they would become the second Delaware charter school to do this. In May, Charter School of Wilmington voted in the majority for joining the Delaware State Education Association.
Good evening, OCS Families–
Our new leadership team continues to work to improve communications and also to promote transparency in school developments. To reinforce these efforts, I want to make you aware that OCS has received notice from the State of Delaware, Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) that the Odyssey Charter School Education Association (“OCSEA”) has filed a petition to represent certain academic and facilities employees here at OCS. This process ultimately will lead to an election to determine whether OCSEA, as the union, will represent this group of employees in collective bargaining negotiations. I want you to know that the leadership team strongly believes that remaining union-free is the right thing for both OCS and for the staff involved. I will endeavor to keep you informed of key developments as they occur in this process. Please contact me if you have any questions. Whatever the outcome of this vote, I look forward to a productive year for our school.
If you read the News Journal article on the Charter School of Wilmington teachers voting to unionize, it was filled with reasons why President Sam Paoli did not want the teachers to unionize. The article failed to capitalize on why the vote happened in the first place- CSW President Sam Paoli.
At this point it is unclear why the educators wanted to unionize or by how large a margin the vote was successful.