Response from DOJ regarding DE Charter Schools Network Lobbying Efforts

On February 4, 2016 a letter was sent to the Department of Justice expressing concerns with regards to Delaware Charter Schools Network and their lobbying efforts in Dover.

On March 30, 2016, we received a response from the Department of Justice with respect to our concerns.

On page 3 of the letter it states that Ms. Massett accounts for the time she spends lobbying and estimates she spends 3% of her time as Executive Director on the direct lobbying. The records from 2015 showed that Ms. Massett signed in at Legislative Hall 17 times in 2015. The state goes on to say assuming for the sake of rough calculation Ms. Massett spent half of the work day – or 4 hours – at Legislative Hall each time she signed in, that would account for approximately 3% of Ms. Massett’s work hours for all of 2015.

My response back to the DOJ is in 2015 when we were in session, we were in Dover 53 days. Ms. Massett spent 17 days in Legislative Hall–so she was in Legislative Hall 33% of the time that we were there. We are not in session 365 days a year, we are only in Dover for a short amount of time with very limited hours. Most of my work as a legislator is spent with my constituents in the 19th District, working on constituent issues, researching legislation, meeting with people outside of Legislative Hall, and so on. I work as a legislator 40 + hours per week for 52 weeks (minus vacation that my family may take) per year and we were in session 53 days in 2015. If you calculate the time an average legislator is actually in Legislative Hall, we spend about 12.5% of our time actually in Legislative Hall. If a legislator serves on one of the money committees the percentage would rise a bit. How can the state justify that Ms. Massett does not spend a large amount of her time in Legislative Hall since we are only there 53 days out of the year?  When we are in session that is the only time that bills are heard, debated, voted on and signed into law.

On the last page of the response, DOJ responded to the concern about Mr. Taylor serving on the Charter School Accountability Committee (CSAC). The CSAC decides if a charter school  opens, closes, if modifications are approved etc. As of January 30, 2016 (see below photo) Mr. Taylor was not listed as a member of the CSAC–but Mr. Taylor was permitted to vote on five charter school modifications in February 2016 (see CSAC final reports dated February 25, 2016.)

20160401_233303-1-1.jpg

Mr. Taylor was not a member of the committee, he was removed from the committee back in July 2015 because of conflicts of interest. I have an email from the Department of Education stating this.

From: Blowman David <david.blowman@DOE.K12.DE.US>
Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 4:23 PM
To: Williams, Kimberly (LegHall); Nagourney, Jennifer (K12); Haberstroh, Susan (K12)
Cc: May, Alison (K12)
Subject: RE: Chuck Taylor
Rep Williams, you are correct that Chuck Taylor will be the acting head of PCA.  He called Jenn a couple of weeks ago to let us know that he would be stepping down from the Charter School Accountability Committee because of conflicts of interest that will arise with the upcoming renewal applications of PCA and Campus Community. He has been removed from the list of CSAC members on the DDOE website (http://dedoe.schoolwires.net/Page/2218) and is not serving on CSAC for the current major modification application under review (report to be published tonight).
 
I hope this is helpful,
 
Best David

When DOJ recently questioned counsel for the CSAC about Mr. Taylor, CSAC counsel told the DOJ that the website was out of date and, more importantly, that Mr. Taylor did not vote on any matter before being appointed to the committee. According to the CSAC reports, Mr. Taylor voted in February on all the modifications before the CSAC. The website has just been updated showing the that Mr. Taylor is now a voting member  of the CSAC. 

The CSAC does not appear to have any regulations that they must operate under as far as who serves on the committee, how someone is appointed to the committee, how long is their term, etc. Back in December 2015, CSAC recommended closure for Delaware Met Charter School, in the report one of the people present who was not a member of the committee recommended closure was Paul Harrell (see page 2 under voting committee members). Mr. Harrell made the motion to close Delaware Met Charter School–he was not a member of the CSAC, yet he was allowed to sit on the CSAC and cast a vote.

I reached out to the DOJ after reviewing their response. They requested that I forward the email from DOE to them showing that Mr. Taylor was stepping down from the CSAC–the DOJ informed me that they will get back to me.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Response from DOJ regarding DE Charter Schools Network Lobbying Efforts

  1. John Kowalko

    Seems like a FOIA request for the emails between the DOJ and Mr. Taylor and Ms. Massett is in order. Do these two individuals never call or email legislators directly? Were they not asked about lobbying they perform outside of physically being in Legislative Hall? Ms. Massett’s estimate of 3% of her time is also the exact same estimate given by the DOJ. Did they arrive at these numbers independently? This type of shoddy response from what are supposed to be the attorneys who represent the State of Delaware requires more answers I believe.

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s