Board Meeting 11.5.19: Public Comment

Below is my public comment submitted to the Christina Board of Education

Tonight, as you prepare to re-vote for the open board seat due to your flagrant, ill-informed, and seemingly ill-intended desire to hide your voting behind a secret ballot that resulted in district counsel being forced to confirm that you indeed flouted Delaware’s open meeting laws, which you each took an oath to uphold, I thought it would be a good time to remind the board that the public that elected you has deep, abiding concerns with some of your recent behaviors.

Here’s a short list:

  • Permitting a school grow a 5-foot weed garden in its front yard, facing the community, with taxpayer monies
  • Permitting your special ed director to leave without a replacement, causing serious special education concerns in the district to grow.
  • Conducting top secret meetings with NCS leadership absent board assent, necessary granted authorities, or fellow member knowledge of meeting content
  • Failure to act in the face of serious allegations about the conditions in our Wilmington partnership schools as expressed at the regular October Board meeting. Example: Where is the annual November 1st review of the MOU by all parties? Missed in both 2018 and 2019…
  • Permitting administration to suspend a respite program serving our most vulnerable families without board approval, causing trauma to many households
  • Systemic denial of information necessary to adequately inform votes to an elected board member without a board vote authorizing said withholding
  • Putting forth the aforementioned secret ballot, motioned by a board member absent from the interview process and with no public discussion of the other candidates vying for the position which is at the very least, disrespectful.
  • Voting to set a date for a referendum without an ask amount (tonight)

I am not completely sure why secrecy and poor decision-making reigns on this board, but I have a pretty good idea and if board leadership continues to permit and engage the community in the disdainful manner it has thus far, you will likely find your satisfaction with the result on tonight’s main subject, the referendum, to be very low and your opportunity to move Christina forward severely impeded.

Ultimately, all because of a lack of intellectual curiosity and simple, petty hubris.

Less than 3 months removed and all hell is breaking loose in Christina…#netDE #eduDE… this is what happens with a substandard superintendent and out-of-control “board leadership”…

So, here’s what’s going down in CSD:

Tuesday night, two doctors and a lawyer walked the CSD Board of Education into a clear FOIA violation by conducting a SECRET BALLOT VOTE at a PUBLIC MEETING! #netDE #eduDE

Two doctors and a lawyer walk into a board meeting…

Sounds like the start of a bad joke… and normally you’d be right. Tuesday 8 October 2019, however, Dr. Keeley Powell and Dr. Meredith Griffin were joined by Mr. George E. Evans, Esquire in a clearly coordinated attack on state code. It is clear that some measure of coordination was at play (executive session discussion? Illegal if true…) as this troika deliberately led the Board of Education into a secret ballot for the open seat on the Board.

One problem, none of them bothered to read Delaware code regarding roll call voting. The code they literally took an oath to uphold. School board policy 1.07 (http://go.boarddocs.com/de/christina/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=9JHHQ349506B) clearly requires the board to follow Delaware Code.

Here’s the code: https://delcode.delaware.gov/title14/c010/sc03/index.shtml#1048

It is extremely clear, all motions and resolutions must be recorded in minutes as a roll call vote. This reckless decision by Dr. Powell and with Dr. Griffin’s assent and Mr. Evans’ eager participation creates a legal quandry for the meeting and the vote but an even bigger question for the voters and taxpayers and voters of Christina.

Why do they not know the law?

Do they care about their oaths?

Why elect Claire O’Neal so secretly?

Were deals cut for her to follow their votes on issues in exchange for her appointment?

Were they involved, as Claire was, in supporting a candidate who swore to never serve a day?

Can these board members be trusted to make decisions for our children when they have such public disregard for the law and the law abiding voters that elected them?

After watching and participating in the public comment section of the meeting. Christina was confronted by angry Autism parents and teachers from WIlmington schools who blistered them with truth about the morally questionable decision to join the Governor in yet another evidence-less “transformation” of Wilmington Schools…which included voting to give away Elbert-Palmer school for $1/yr for 10 years that night. Unlike Claire’s super secret election, this one was public.

I will pray for the soul of this reckless, indignant board.

Public Comment on Autism Respite 10/8/2019. #netDE #eduDE

President Griffin, Executive Secretary Gregg, members of the board of education,

I stand before you today as a resident, taxpayer, referendum voter, and father to Evan, an 18 year old in the Delaware Autism Program who has utilized respite services.

As you can probably guess, I’m displeased right now. This board, through its persistent inaction and inattentiveness, combined with its recalcitrance to hold its leaders meaningfully accountable has unwittingly participated in a crime against the Autism community. CSD administration’s decision to suspend respite absent your explicit assent yielded what amounts to an act of emotional terrorism upon Autism families. The primary caregivers to our students in need have been subjected to 10 days of trauma,,,scrambling to make adjustments by a decision thrust upon them with no notice.

As CSD has embarked upon its reckless, directionless transformation of city schools it has been focusing on trauma informed practices as a primary method of professional development. Do the decision makers here not understand the very actions they undertook created trauma in homes with fragile children, who as we know, are then subjected to that trauma via transference? If they didn’t then I question the efficacy of the training and their ability to lead schools through this transformation. If they did know, then their moral compass is simply broken.

Then this afternoon, politicians all over Delaware erupted with self-congratulatory social media posts for “fixing” the problem some of them helped to create with their own inaction on school funding. They praised the governor and themselves profusely. The primary advocacy group for Autism families seemingly is just blowing right past the problem’s root cause, lost in the euphoria of the quick fix. Other politicians yet still, are leveraging the suspension of respite to convince others that the OSD is aligned with the wrong administering agency when the suspension literally had nothing to do with OSD. Just pure political theater, that for the uninitiated, does not bode well for the future of respite as it is now in the hands of a hastily cobbled together “work group” that must be “selected” and is not open to those that it will affect in any significant way.

In fact, today’s “fix” happened so quickly that it strains credulity that the suspension was necessary in the first place and it happened so secretly that no one can truly understand it and all of its long term impacts at this time. State code Title 14, 3123 and the recently signed MOU speak explicitly to funding methods and neither suggests CSD was outside its rights and if CSD was outside code, then coming inside code provides simply for a CSD ask of the DOE to fund. If they aren’t saying yes to this, and it appears they are not (based on today’s agreement, etc), then they are apparently just leveraging this to aim the long since drawn guns right at the district’s proverbial head.

What is this board going to do about the repeated blunders that our district continues to commit like no coherent messaging, oversized classes, the payoffs to lawyers because we refuse to offer services to children with IEPs despite their federal protections, creating strategic plans that ignore the feedback of the groups literally convened to make them, deploy major initiatives like 1-to-1 technology without bothering to read provided research detailing the pros and cons of such a rapid deployment, and allowing an economic development opportunity for the state drive the district to recommend, with a straight face, renting a vacant school building that the counterparty desires and needs to precisely $1/year which is action item I.3 on tonight’s agenda while other building are crumbling.

Now is not the time to look away from the ball as they want us to do, Now is the time to go all in. I for one, as we speak here at a meeting in which the BOE is going to vote on a date for a referendum without a financial ask prepared, will actively not support the referendum and dedicate significant time to ensure fellow taxpayers are made aware of the rampant and clear disrespect this board holds for the public trust that has been entrusted to it until I see open, public, accountability for this administration and the decisions it makes.

Alert !!!! CHRISTINA SCHOOL BOARD holding TOP SECRET INTERVIEWS FOR PUBLICLY ELECTED POSITION!!!!! #netDE #eduDE

https://www.newarkpostonline.com/news/four-apply-for-vacant-seat-on-christina-school-board/article_2661b05b-ff47-5a74-8a46-2bdc3732cc30.html

After asking for a nearly $100MM certificate of need to secure a bond to ask for taxpayer money in another referendum… the Christina board decides the best thing they should do in the search to fill the vacant board seat is to hold top secret interviews in the face of a referendum ask.

These are public, elected positions, not employee interviews. I don’t care what counsel advises, do this top secret and you’ll further erode the public trust you desperately desire and do not have.

Christina School Board, AJ.

So, nothing has changed. The board, tone deaf as ever, voted to submit a 99.9 million dollar CN to the DOE for a capital referendum with no curiosity evident. Also, they literally cited a 2013 email from district counsel in support of holding TOP SECRET interview for the PUBLICLY ELECTABLE position of school board member. I’d say “what are they thinking”, but I’d likely answer my own question quickly. They’re not.

Ever wonder why Dover is rotted to its core? Wonder no more as freshman legislator and DE Poet Laureate tell us why betraying transparency is the Delaware Way and good for us. #netDE #eduDE #patronizing

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