Delaware School Safety Report Shows Severe Limitations In Our Schools For Controlling Violence

If we are to have a chance to reduce and reverse this type of behavior, it is necessary to begin early and to start in the home. Efforts must be made to reach out students and to provide them with positive new directions in elementary school. Several committee members pointed out that “middle school is too late.”

“If joining a gang is the only way to survive, the kids will join gangs,” one committee member said, adding, “A lot of teachers don’t know who gang members are. You, as a teacher, should know how to interact with kids and parents because kids and parents may not have the ability to interact with us.”

The committee discussed the possibility of cell phone bans in schools, but public schools in Delaware have not done so because parents want to be able to reach their children by phone.

These were just a few of the topics discussed in the Special Committee on Public Safety.

School safety.  Two words that mean so many things to so many people.  To some, it means making sure every single student and staff member is protected from violence.  To some it means reporting requirements.  Many think of Sandy Hook or Columbine.  Others think of a mounting problem that can never be corrected.

Earlier this year, in the wake of two very violent deaths in Wilmington, a group was formed by Senator Robert Marshall.  Marshall is the Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee.  He formed a group that met twice to discuss school safety issues with various topics introduced.  Out of these meetings, Senate Concurrent Resolution #83 formed a Special Committee on School Safety.  The final report was given to the President Pro Tempore of the Delaware Senate and Governor Markell yesterday.

The below report has a great deal of information.  It is very long but it is worth the read.  Take the time to read it.  Every single word.  Whether you are for or against School Resource Officers or Constables in Delaware schools, it is important to know what is happening out there.  It affects every single citizen of this state.  Issues in schools can explode outside of schools often, but issues outside of schools are brought into schools all the time.

The one thing I took out of this report is there are no easy answers.  Issues around funding and legality are some of the biggest obstacles to making schools safer.  Trauma plays a huge role in our high-needs schools.  Family issues outside of school are one of the biggest obstacles to safe schools.

There was one recommendation coming out of the final report that I didn’t see discussed anywhere in the meeting minutes.

Provide funding for the Delaware Department of Education to conduct a voluntary, statewide survey among students, parents, and teachers to get their thoughts on improving the learning environment and ways to make our schools safer.

It can’t be a report on education in Delaware without the Delaware Dept. of Education inserting something they want, which usually involves them getting more money.  One important thing to take note of in this report is that Delaware Senator David Sokola and State Rep. Earl Jaques were both listed as members of this committee but neither went to any of the meetings on it or bothered to assign a designee to attend in their absence.

The parts about Senate Bill 207, which I also issued severe problems with, were echoed by many in regards to future under-reporting of incidents in schools.  I thank God the House added an amendment to the bill that still requires mandatory reporting to the Delaware DOE.  But there is one line about Senate Bill 207 in the final report which will give any Delaware citizen severe anxiety.

Howard High School of Technology Protecting Group of Students Who Jumped A Student At Freire Charter School

A few weeks before the violent assault at Howard High School of Technology, a group of Howard students jumped and beat up a student at Freire Charter School, in the mid-town Brandywine section of Wilmington.  How come we haven’t heard about this?  Because even though the Wilmington Police Department wants to act, they can’t.  Apparently there is a memorandum of understanding between Howard High School of Technology and the Wilmington Police Department.  There is a video of the incident but Howard refuses to name the students from their school.  And they don’t have to because of the agreement with Wilmington P.D.

I searched high and low for this agreement, and the only reference to it came from the New Castle County Vo-Tech District’s Student Handbook:

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While I doubt this is the real Memorandum of Agreement with Wilmington Police Department, I am hard pressed to find any justification for Howard’s administration to withhold the names of their students that assaulted another school’s student off their premises.

So what exactly is going on with this school and why is the district downplaying everything?  They say their school is safe, but the things coming out indicate otherwise.  As well, Howard’s school psychologist resigned February 5th of this year according to their February board minutes:

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While it is not known if Howard hired a new psychologist since they haven’t updated their board minutes since, Randolph is still listed on the Staff Directory of Howard’s website.  The school has a Principal, three Assistant Principals, and three Guidance Counselors.

I have to know: What kind of world are we living in when the police can’t act because a school is protecting students?  Something is seriously wrong with this school and I am afraid more students are going to get hurt.  What happened to Amy Francis-Joyner was an unspeakable tragedy, but no one else is tackling the problems with the administration at this school.  How many more students will be hurt or even die before this district wakes the hell up?

You would think their Board of Education would say something, but they have not issued any press releases or talked to anyone publicly about what happened and continues to happen at Howard.  Like the Delaware State Board of Education, vocational district boards in Delaware are appointed by the Governor of Delaware.  That’s right.  They were appointed by Governor Markell.  And our Delaware Secretary of Education… where does he come from?  New Castle County Vo-Tech.

I saw a segment on Channel 6 ABC News from Wednesday about the charges filed against the three students involved in Amy’s murder.  They interviewed a student who said he is not allowed to talk about it.  Excuse me?  I knew the district put a gag order on the teachers but now they are doing it with students.  So the next time I see Superintendent Dr. Vicki Gehrt at Legislative Hall or some education meeting and she wants to give me one of her indignant looks, know that she is withholding vital information about the safety of one of her schools.  You can look like the wounded party, but your school is out of control and you damn well know it.  You can choose to ignore the situation and risk the safety of more students or you can actually do something about it.  Or the board can replace her.  Either way, students’ lives are far more important than the illusion this district is casting.

Just this past Monday, Howard Principal Stanley Spoor rather arrogantly told students and the press to not believe everything you hear and say on social media.  Well Mr. Spoor, maybe when the school and the district starts owning up to what is REALLY going on there, then you can start preaching from your pedestal.  Until then, please keep your students safe and make sure there is adequate coverage in your school to watch students.

Amy Joyner-Francis Case Handed To Delaware Department Of Justice

The Wilmington Police Department, according to the News Journal, gave all the information and evidence on the death of Amy Joyner-Francis to the Delaware Department of Justice yesterday.

The DOJ could not provide a timeline for how soon charges will be filed but Kanefsky said Thursday that it will be prompt.

While Wilmington P.D. Chief Bobby Cummings indicated three girls will be charged in the brutal murder of Amy Joyner-Francis at Howard High School of Technology on April 21st, the exact nature of the charges will be determined by the Delaware DOJ:

…state prosecutors are reviewing evidence submitted by Wilmington Police Department to decide what charges can be lodged.

Last Sunday, a viewing was held for Amy with a packed church.  Delaware citizens, especially those in Wilmington, have been adamant that the guilty parties need to be charged so there can be justice for Amy and her family.  No charges or prison time for the guilty will take away the pain and sadness that Amy’s family and friends are feeling.  There is no replacement for a life.  Please continue to pray for those who loved Amy and miss her dearly.

Were Weapons Used In Amy Inita Joyner-Francis’ Death? Please Come Clean On This Wilmington P.D. & Howard High School of Technology

Over on Kilroy’s Delaware a commenter named M Ryder wrote a reply about who should have files charged against them in connection with Amy’s death at Howard High School of Technology.  Many have felt the administration of the school should have better coverage of student hallways in the beginning of the school day.  Since they didn’t, I questioned whether they should be charged with gross negligence.  I have always maintained that the parties directly involved in Amy’s death are ultimately responsible for her death.  M Ryder definitely agreed with that but added some facts that I haven’t seen involving this story:

So kevin, the school should be charged that two students planned to meet in the bathroom to fight over a boy? The school should be charged because the girl who was losing the fight had girlfriends carrying knives? The school should be charged for the girlfriends who then ganged up on the girl who they stabbed and then forced down striking her head on the way down? The school should be charged? Really???

If this really happened, why did the Wilmington Police Department state there were no weapons involved?  I asked M Ryder how he/she came about knowing this information but I have yet to receive a response.  If there were stab wounds, those would be seen right away by the police.  Superintendent Dr. Gehrt empathized Howard was a safe school just hours after the assault.  When are we going to get full details about what happened that day and why am I smelling a cover-up?  I thought it was ridiculous when someone mentioned there was talk about installing metal detectors at the school but if there were knives used in this crime, it is completely understandable.

I have no idea who “M Ryder” is, but they are usually accurate with their information they post on Kilroy’s Delaware.  I can’t verify if the information M Ryder posted is credible, but given everything that went down that day and the actions of those in authority afterwards, I would not be surprised.  As if this tragedy wasn’t already horrifying, this new aspect, if true, takes us further down the path of evil that came out that day.

Why Didn’t Freire Charter School In Wilmington Announce Their Bomb Threat Today?

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You won’t find this on the News Journal.  Or on Freire’s Facebook page either.  But the school had a bomb threat today which caused at least seven Wilmington police cars to come to the school.  After the police investigated, the students were allowed back in the school an hour later.  Not confirmed is a school authority advising a local resident that several students were suspended and the matter is still being investigated.  Were parents of the students notified about this?  Where is the transparency in our Delaware charter schools???

As well, there have been at least five visits by the Wilmington Fire Department at the school since they opened in August over fire alarms.

Freire Charter School of Wilmington opened in August after a hellacious year involving issues with the Midtown Brandywine Neighborhood Association.  When the neighbors protested the school’s opening without a clear plan on the increased traffic, the former Head of School got into an exchange with one of the protesters which resulted in charges filed against him.  He “resigned” from the school shortly thereafter.  Freire’s original model was a “zero tolerance” charter school, but they changed that last year because of the “specific interest” clause in their admission policy.  They applied for a federal grant for startup costs which specifically prohibits any type of specific interest in their enrollment strategies.  The above picture is the emblem of Freire, but I’m not sure what a fire-breathing dragon has to do with a charter school…

Meanwhile, Delaware legislators in Washington D.C. wrote the FBI to look into the multiple bomb threats across Delaware the past few weeks and when the FBI should act on this.  According to the article by the Middletown Transcript, only state and local authorities have been investigating the Delaware threats.

Why Are Delaware Met Parents Oblivious To The Police Activity At The School?

In the public hearings and public comment for Delaware Met, I have yet to find any parent going nuts about all the police activity there.  I have to believe at most schools parents would be up in arms about this stuff.  If I were a parent of a Del Met student, I would be asking some serious questions.  Instead, they are acting like the school is the victim.  I’m sorry, but if the school doesn’t know how to act in certain situations, whether they just opened or they have been around for twenty years, than they are the ones at fault.  They KNEW exactly what their student population looked like over the summer and they failed to adequately do something about it until AFTER the fact.

The school’s explanations for the police visits are good, in the sense that they acknowledge what was going on.  But they failed to prevent it.

Wilmington Police Department List Of Delaware Met Calls And Arrests

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When things went south at Delaware Met, it kept going and going and going.  Like the Energizer Bunny, the Wilmington Police Department kept going and going and going, right to the Delaware Met.  To make arrests, stop fights, collect loaded BB guns, and so forth.  Here is a list of all the times the police came to the school, the nature of the complaint, and the result:

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Wow.  That is all I can really say about this.  Wow.  And yet all these parents are begging to keep the school open…

Tomorrow is the last day to give public comment which you can do here: https://form.jotform.com/52888685884178?

Delaware Met’s SHOCKING Final Meeting With DOE Is FILLED With VERY EGREGIOUS SCHOOL CRIMES!!!!!!

I knew things were bad at Delaware Met.  I knew things I was unable to confirm officially.  But the reality, and other things I didn’t know about…

Below are just a few of the things said during Delaware Met’s final formal review meeting with the Charter School Accountability Committee on 12/1/15.  This is a must-read!  If you ever want to open a school, I would highly recommend doing the opposite of what Delaware Met did, and you should do great!  Below these quotes is the full meeting notes.

Ms. Ogden also noted that the school was not prepared for the unannounced monitoring visit, as there were active files on the table and a flash drive was lost in the first room the DDOE staff monitored. She also added that, during the DDOE monitoring visit, an event occurred which set off the fire alarm and resulted in evacuation from the building and no access to the special education resource room on the second floor where the active special education files were stored. Ms. Ogden stated that “the second floor was condemned.”

 

She added that the lessons plans are for middle school, more specifically early middle school, although The Delaware Met is a high school.

 

 

Mr. Blowman commented that the School Leader should be able to go out on maternity leave without the school falling apart. He noted that these issues point to massive weaknesses in the school’s organizational model.

 

Ms. Nagourney requested clarification whether the Board took action during meetings that were not publicly noticed.

 

Ms. Massett said that wanted the record to reflect that the school did not reach out to the charter community for assistance.

 

She specifically noted that the list stated that a bullet was found in one of the classrooms and asked the school why it did not contact the police in that instance.

 

She indicated that she was fearful about safety in the school when reading about BB guns and tasers.

 

However, she expressed disappointment that the school listed two calls for severe student disruption despite seven different instances leading to nine arrests being listed in the information provided by WPD.

 

She identified several incidents, including a student’s hair being set on fire, an assault, weapons being brought to the school, near riots, and threats toward staff members as severe disruptions.

 

And when a school fails to meet multiple standards and fails to create a safe and appropriate environment in which students can thrive, it warrants serious action.

 

The motion carried unanimously.

 

 

With All The Police Action At Delaware Met, How Does First State Montessori Academy Feel About That?

Sometimes something just doesn’t click until it hits you.  This was the case today when I realized Delaware Met’s direct neighbor is First State Montessori Academy.  Can you imagine picking up your child at an elementary school to see students led out at the school next door in handcuffs?  Or you look out your window and see kids fighting?

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In the above picture, Delaware Met is at 920 N. French St. in Wilmington.  Right next to it with nothing but a street dividing them, sits First State Montessori Academy.  Even more ironic, their other neighbor to the side of them is the Carvel State Building, where the Delaware Department of Justice has their offices.  In fact, I would guess that Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn can see the school from his office window.  Only in Delaware!

First State Montessori services kids from Kindergarten to 6th grade.  Delaware Met has teenagers in 9th and 10th grade.  I’m sorry, but who plans this stuff?  I have some of the same concerns with the Community Education Building housing all the different schools and different grades.  This isn’t Little House on the Prairie!  I don’t think young students should be in any way exposed to whatever is going on over at Delaware Met.  There is a specific reason traditional school districts have middle schools and high schools strategically placed away from elementary schools.  I firmly believe the Delaware charters up in Wilmington should coordinate with each other so potential problems don’t occur.  It was announced last week that the Wilmington Police would have an officer outside the school in the afternoon when school got out.

Is Delaware Met And Innovative Schools Offering Hazard Pay For It’s Executive Director Job?

Delaware Met, the story that never stops.  The latest?  Turns out Innovative Schools is recruiting for an executive director.  And the starting salary?  $100,000.00 for the job.  That’s a lot of money for a brand new charter.  Is this in addition to the principal position, held by the returning Tricia Hunter-Crafton?  Because in their budget submitted for their formal review, it only shows $100,000 for school leadership and that is under the title of principal.

Some highlights for the listing, with my thoughts below each line in red, include:

Demonstrated ability to build school culture that will enhance student achievement

You might want to have an architect background for this one because you would essentially be rebuilding a school from the bottom up.

•Demonstrated ability to build effective school systems that support safety, and establishes coherence of policies amongst staff, students, and parents

Being that this school is NOT safe at all and there is no coherence of policies at all at this school, I would also suggest you hire two full-time State Resource Officers at this school as well.

Oversees daily operation of school, ensuing a safe and positive school culture

If you have the ability to clone yourself as well, this will be a must.

Keeps the Board informed of all aspects of school operations

Because the board has vast amounts of experience with this kind of school, culture and population…

Manage day-to-day activities of all staff

I would make sure an adult is present anywhere students are present and install security cameras there.

Successful leadership experience in a public or non-public school serving diverse and low- income student populations, with significant results in closing student achievement gaps

Before worrying about the student achievement gaps, I would work on closing the calls to the Wilmington Police Department.  And I would reach out to the local businesses in the area who are making the vast majority of the phone calls to the police.  Over 30 calls in two and a half months…

Ability to lift up to 50 pounds

I would go beyond this and perhaps suggest an ability to lift a few tons because that will be the weight on your shoulders when you take this job.

Ability to hear within normal range, with or without amplification

I sincerely hope you are from the planet Krypton and have super-hearing cause you are going to need it!

Ability to sustain a calm, reasonable approach, and communicate effectively in stressful or problematic situations

I would enroll in a daily 3 hour yoga class right away and practice meditation techniques now.

Salary Range:
Baseline of $100,000 — Negotiable and commensurate with education and experience

I would ask for double based on the hazardous working conditions…

I did want to add a few other qualifications the executive director of Delaware Met will probably need…

Ability to become best friends with the Wilmington Police Department

Forensic auditing experience

Crowd Control techniques

Have a Bat-phone installed in your office