Freire Charter School won’t be ordered closed! Kilroy calls it for probation

Mr. Blowman noted that Freire had not met the requirement that it reach 80% of its total approved enrollment (224 students ) by the April 1 deadline. He noted that the low enrollment number raised concerns about the school’s financial viability at that level. He reviewed the history of Freire’s enrolled student data:

However DE DOE’s report goes on to report as of May 13 enrollment was at 93%. 

He noted that Freire’s enrollment is now in compliance, but noted that if students were to withdraw, that would have a negative impact upon viability. (Blowman)

Well doesn’t that apply to all charter schools? 

Ms. Field Rogers asked if many of the enrolled students were coming from the Christina School District. Ms. Wenell stated that approximately 54% of students currently enrolled came from Christina. Ms. Field Rogers noted that the outcome of Christina’s referendum may affect the amounts sent to charters and suggested that Freire budget conservatively for any local funds from that district. 

“Voting Committee Members of the Charter School Accountability Committee/ Karen Field Rogers, Associate Secretary for Adult Education and School Supports, DDOE”

Did Freire submits the budget on the anticipation that the referendum would be successful? Doubt it! However, if the referendum fails perhaps pissed-off parents may enroll their children in Freire.

Ms. Field Rogers noted that the budget included a loan for school renovations and financing from its their landlord (McConnell Johnson), and asked if Freire also planned to use a line of credit. Dr. Davenport stated that Freire had secured a line of working capital from Barclay’s for $800,000, which can be tapped into during the first year if needed.  

And did Mrs Field Rogers turn a blind-eye when Charlie’s mommy gave his school a personal loan?

Ms. Field Rogers noted that the budget included a loan for school renovations and financing from its their landlord (McConnell Johnson), and asked if Freire also planned to use a line of credit. Dr. Davenport stated that Freire had secured a line of working capital from Barclay’s for $800,000, which can be tapped into during the first year if needed.

“working capital” Sounds like a smart plan! Smart landlord supporting his tenant. Charter School of Wilmington landlord gives them major capital funding free! Kind of like a backdoor donations!

Mr. Blowman asked if there were any foreseeable problems with implementing the approved charter with fidelity at 208 students. Dr. Davenport stated that she did not foresee any problems, even though the school would need to operate in a way that was “leaner and meaner.”

FYI most charter schools operate “leaner and meaner” and from I see Charter School of Wilmington is in deficit spending. Charters are corporations and most start-up corporations are on tight budgets.

Mr. Taylor inquired about the number of special education students currently enrolled, the breakdown between basic, intensive, and complex designations, and whether there were sufficient funds in the revised budget to serve them as needed (Note – Numbers not included in this report pursuant to Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act requirements). Ms. Khieu stated that Freire had budgeted extra funds to serve those students and was confident that it could meet those needs. Dr. Davenport stated that the Freire team was looking into all possible opportunities to serve those students, and would be drawing ideas from their experience operating in Pennsylvania. Mr. Blowman noted that Delaware laws about serving special education students are very different and Dr. Davenport noted Freire’s intent to implement plans that meet Delaware’s legal requirements.

Folks this is indeed a major issue and perhaps borderline civil rights violation under IDEA. Perhaps Freire can model it’s special ed services after Charter School of Wilmington’s model! CSW is the golden goose of charter schools in Delaware.

Mr. Blowman noted that Bill Porter would no longer be the school leader and that those responsibilities would now be fulfilled by Mr. Ramirez and Ms. Wennell. He asked how that change would affect school operations. Dr. Davenport spoke about each person’s experience working in Freire’s Philadelphia schools. Dr. Davenport noted that they would lead operations at the school campus and she would be supporting them as a school leader from “behind the scenes.” Ms. Field Rogers noted that Mr. Porter had received a lot of training and asked how the new school leaders would get the training they needed to open and operate the school. Dr. Davenport noted that she had full confidence in Melanie Reiser, the Director of Operations and Compliance and her “right hand” at Build the Future Education Collaborative. Melanie had attended many of the trainings as well and had been working on the opening process. Dr. Davenport noted that Mr. Porter had not left the Freire organization and would also be available to help and answer questions as needed.

So Porter took a backseat but still is part of Freire.  Don’t see where this would have an negative impact on final decision re: charter review committee.

Conclusion Mr. Blowman asked the CSAC whether there were any additional questions. No questions were raised. Mr. Blowman noted that Freire was not in compliance with the April 1 enrollment requirement but has since achieved at least 80% enrollment. Due to the increased student enrollment, he was not aware of any specific financial viability concerns. He noted that there was a need for additional information about how the school will serve special education students based on the projected enrollment of that population. As discussed above, the following specific information was requested by the CSAC:

 A plan detailing how the Freire would meet the needs of the intense and complex special education students; and

 A plan detailing how Freire would serve all special education students, including the staffing levels, plans for providing special education services, plans for providing differentiated instruction, and also meeting all compliance requirements.

I am calling it, Freire will submit a workable plan.

Folks I take issue with Delaware charter school laws “and” with regulations governing magnet and votech schools. As far a the Freire’s zero tolerance re: behavior, do note “Choice” students in traditional schools can be de-Choiced due to behavior.

Red Clay, “A choice application will not be accepted for a student who has been expelled from the District or another district or charter school until that student is eligible for readmission to the expelling district or charter school. Students who are enrolled in alternative programs may submit applications as appropriate for the next school year under the established guidelines.” 

Red Clay, “A student who fails to meet the academic requirements and attendance requirements of a choice school may not be permitted to return the next school year. Meeting the academic requirements is defined as meeting the District’s standards for promotion to the next grade level.

Red Clay, “A student who violates the Student Code of Conduct, as well as a student who engages in conduct which may result in a recommendation for alternative placement and/or expulsion, may not be permitted to return to the choice school for the following school year.”

As far as Freire, I foresee probation “not” revocation.

Folks remember, I take issues with Delaware’s charter school laws and regulations not the concept of charter schools. The zero tolerance issues appears to be permitted by law. HOWEVER, in my opinion all schools charters, traditional, voteach and magnet schools should all be required to provide alternative placement and / or services for their non criminal disruptive students. 


2 responses to “Freire Charter School won’t be ordered closed! Kilroy calls it for probation

  1. lastDEconservative

    “Well doesn’t that apply to all charter schools?”, said Kilroy, in reference to the negative impact of student withdrawals.

    Well, doesn’t that apply to all TP schools? Isn’t that what half the caterwauling on this blog is about?


  2. The community around the school has filed suit. Story in the paper.