Daily Archives: December 3, 2014

ACLU Et Al v. State of Delaware and Red Clay Consolidated 03 Dec 14 @arneduncan @washingtonpost #edude #netde @dedeptofed @destateboarded @usedgov @EducationOIG @huffingtonpost #neatoday @NSBAComm @NatlGovsAssoc

If Red Clay doesn’t want to provide traditional middle and high school services in Wilmington then the time has come to give Red Clay the boot

Force busing still exist in the city of Wilmington Delaware and it’s out bound. Can you image if Red Clay’s white suburban parents were told their children must be bust into Red Clay’s city elementary schools to fill empty seats rather than build new suburban elementary schools! Yep they’ll yell your in violation of the Neighborhood School Act!

As the nation looks towards Ferguson Missouri as ground zero for enough is enough racial discrimination and to reignite a stall civil rights movement Delaware particularly Wilmington minorities struggle to maintain fair and “equitable” public education. Red Clay city taxpayers have funded three new suburban schools to accommodate Neighborhood Schools and are proud parents of charter schools and magnet schools that discriminate against academic challenged students. ACLU lawsuit calls for, “Utilization of a random opt-out lottery for charter school admissions” and that should apply to magnet schools. John Dickinson High School’s fall from excellence was a direct result of former Red Clay board members reckless overambitious charter school agenda. Conrad’s current success was through a plan of reassigning neighborhood children rather than an opt-out policy. Where is the Neighborhood Schools Act being apply to Conrad a 6-12 grade school? The Delaware Department of Education has stains on their hands for approving this all choice magnet school knowing neighborhood students will be bused to other middle schools. At best Conrad 6-8 grades should be an opt out of the feeder-pattern. Why did Red Clay’s school board approved the added space at A.I. High School knowing without Choice students within A.I.’s feeder feeder students wouldn’t fill the building capacity? However to accommodate out of feeder and district Choice students, Red Clay has added an addition onto A.I. BUT still bus some city student pass A.I. to Dickinson. Why weren’t these students given preferential Choice to A.I.?  

Dear Delaware ACLU, one of the solutions to your complaint would be preferential school Choice for Wilmington’s Red Clay middle and high school children with preferential choice busing. Meaning, because Red Clay refuses to provide traditional middle and high school services within Wilmington, those Red Clay students should get guarantee first Choice to any Red Clay suburban middle or high school. Also, convenient neighborhood bus stops whereas parent wouldn’t be required to drive them. Red Clay’s charter school should be part of that guaranteed Choice. Force busing shouldn’t be one-way and shouldn’t be for minorities.     

Delaware ACLU speaks-out and puts Red Clay on the hot seat! @arneduncan @washingtonpost #edude #netde @dedeptofed @destateboarded @usedgov @EducationOIG @huffingtonpost #neatoday @NSBAComm @NatlGovsAssoc

ACLU AND CLASI FILE COMPLAINT WITH OFFICE OF CIVIL RIGHTS

CONTACT: Kathleen MacRae, ACLU-DE Executive Director—302.654.5326 x102,kmacrae@aclu-de.org; Brian Hartman, CLASI Disabilities Law Program Project Director—302.575.0660 x220; bhartman@declasi.org

Wilmington, DE (December 3, 2014) — The American Civil Liberties Union and Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. filed a complaint today with the Office of Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education arguing that Delaware’s charter school law and policies have a discriminatory impact on students of color and students with disabilities and have significantly contributed to the resegregation of Delaware’s public schools. Specifically, the complaint claims that the State of Delaware through the Department of Education and theRed Clay Consolidated School District, the two entities that authorize public charter schools in the state, are in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Every student in the State of Delaware deserves equal access to a high-quality education,” said Kathleen MacRae, executive director of the ACLU of Delaware. “But what has evolved since the passage of the Charter School Act of 1995 is state-sanctioned preferential treatment for families who are able to navigate the special requirements of charter school admissions.

“These include such things as high examination scores; essays written by parents to explain why a school is a good choice for their child; access to gifted and talented elementary and middle school programs that help increase academic performance; annual activities fees; mandatory parent involvement, sometimes in fundraising; and mandatory high-cost uniform purchases. These barriers prevent students from low-income African American and Hispanic families from having the same access to high quality charter schools that middle and upper class families have.”

“We hope that the Office of Civil Rights recognizes that any system of selection that has the effect of almost completely excluding children with disabilities from the ‘high-achieving’ charter schools is deeply disturbing and must constitute illegal discrimination,” says Dan Atkins, Legal Advocacy Director of the Disabilities Law Program of Community Legal Aid Society, Inc.

It’s terribly unfair to the children with disabilities who should have earned their place in those schools, and it sends a harmful and hurtful message, really to everyone, to continue to shut those students out. We look forward to working with the federal government, the State of Delaware, and Red Clay Consolidated School District to develop criteria that integrate more students with disabilities. This is consistent with the State and Federal Government’s mission to provide equal educational opportunities to all children—regardless of race, income, and disability.”

RACIALLY IDENTIFIABLE SCHOOLS

The complaint documents that over three-quarters of charter schools operating in Delaware are racially identifiable. High performing charter schools are almost entirely racially identifiable as White. Low income students and students with disabilities are disproportionately relegated to failing charter schools and charter schools that are racially identifiable as African American or Hispanic, none of which are high performing.

Another result of the proliferation of charter schools is increased segregation in traditional public schools located in districts where charter schools operate. In addition, when the impact of the Neighborhood Schools Act of 2000 is considered, inner city school children have no good alternatives—they may attend a hyper-segregated traditional public school or attend a hyper-segregated charter school. When charter schools admit a disproportionate number of higher-income White students with no disabilities, the traditional public schools are left with the difficult and costly task of educating the students most challenged by poverty or special education needs.

RECOMMENDATIONS

In order to remedy the current situation regarding Delaware public schools, the ACLU and CLASI urge:

  • A moratorium on the authorization and opening of new charter schools until an effective desegregation plan has been implemented;

  • Utilization of a random opt-out lottery for charter school admissions;

  • Assurance that the cost of attending a public charter school is free and that parents are not required or pressured to purchase uniforms or raise money for the school;

  • Capping class size in traditional public schools at the same level as charter schools and ensuring that total funding for traditional public schools is equal to that of charter schools;

  • Providing additional funding to schools with a disproportionately high number of students of color, students with special needs and low-income students;

  • A plan to ensure that students with disabilities are recruited and reasonably accommodated in all charter schools.

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Delaware Delaware Department of Education bitch-slaps special needs students @arneduncan @washingtonpost #edude #netde @dedeptofed @destateboarded @usedgov @EducationOIG @huffingtonpost #neatoday @NSBAComm @NatlGovsAssoc

Hearing scheduled for Gateway, Reach Academy charter renewal appeal 

by Shawn Weigel shawn.weigel@doverpost.com @HCN_Shawn Posted Dec. 2, 2014 @ 6:37 pm

According to a statement from Gateway’s board of directors, the 212-student school – 60 percent of which are on an Individual Education Program – requested and was granted special dispensation from the DOE to evaluate their performance against schools with similar populations.

This “alternative academic framework,” however, was deferred to the 2015-16 school year, leaving the school to be evaluated against the regular DCAS framework in the current 2014-15 school year.

“We contend that standardized testing is an ineffective tool to use to measure a school’s performance whose student population is over 60 percent special education,” the board statement reads. “It compares special education students to traditional students who are without an educational plan.”

So the Delaware Department of Education can’t get their heads out of their asses and forced the delay of “alternative Academic Framework” for Delaware’s special needs children. Talk about a lawsuit! Apparently DE DOE acknowledges the need for the alternative framework whereas old framework isn’t suitable. Folks this is more proof Jack Markell is a failure and has no compassion for special needs children. Shame on you Jack!      

What get’s me is, the Delaware legislators sit-by and do nothing! The time has come for changes at DE DOE right down to the PIO job! 

DOE spokesperson Allison May said that concerned residents can also submit comments online at doe.k12.de.us, or at InfoCSO@doe.k12.de.us. May said that online comments will be accepted for review until Dec. 12. If the secretary accepts the committee’s recommendation, the state will assist families in finding other schools for the next academic year, according to the DOE website.

Folks screw DE DOE because the decision was made! I urge the Delaware PTA to engage this issue and demand Gateway stay open until DE DOE rolls out the alternative framework and that framework be review by PTA. If Delaware PTA can’t use their so-called parent power to advocate for special needs children and parent it’s time for a stand-alone parent organization that serves the needs of special ed students.  What is happening to Gateway is an attack on all special needs students and parents. Honestly, this is a defining moment for PTA.  

Perhaps Gateway needs to be closed. However, it is clear the means to measure their “service” to special needs children and parents is flawed enough they had to call for an alternative measuring tool. My position isn’t about supporting charter schools but rather supporting “school choice”. Gateway seems to be failing in the eyes of DE DOE and not in the eyes of children and parents. When it comes to special needs children, the IEP should rule the day not Jack Markell.

Schools, charters and magnet who cherry picks their students seems to gain all the praise from Markell and Murphy. However, schools traditional and charters who hold the doors open equally for all children are the ones being beaten down by a corrupt governor and department of education. Do something state legislators