Tag Archives: Charter School Accountability Committee

Email from DOJ regarding DOE Charter School Accountability Committee

The one thing I learned from all of this, the laws surrounding DOE’s Charter School Accountability Committee are very loose and the lobbying laws need to be changed. The Department of Education does not seem to think the public needs to be updated on changes to this committee’s membership or do they seem to have regulations in place to appoint people to this committee.  This committee should have additional members who are not employed by the Department of Education, work for the State Board of Education and who do not serve on a charter school or who lobby for charter schools — we need a balance.

Reardon, Allison E (DOJ)
Thu 4/14/2016 10:11 AM


Williams, Kimberly (LegHall);
Dear Representative Williams:
Please allow this to respond to your additional concerns following receipt of our letter dated March 30, 2016. First, you provided an e-mail from David Blowman to you dated July 15, 2015 in which you were advised that  Chuck Taylor stepped down from the Charter School Accountability Committee “for the current major modification application under review.”  We followed up with the attorney for the CSAC and she confirmed that Mr. Taylor did in fact step down from the CSAC in July, 2015. However, he was invited to rejoin the committee and agreed to do so in January 2016 after Providence Creek Academy had completed its renewal process. Along these same lines, you also advised that Paul Harrell participated in the CSAC, made the motion to recommend closure of the Delaware Met School, and voted  at the CSAC convened in December 2015 when he was not a member of the  CSAC. Again, the attorney for the CSAC confirmed through DOE that Mr. Harrell was on the committee at the time he participated.  Membership on the CSAC is apparently somewhat fluid and the website apparently does not keep pace with changes in membership, but those are not issues for the Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust to address.
Also, you submitted that the calculation of time one spends lobbying should be based on the amount of time an individual spends lobbying while the Legislature is in session. However, our analysis is based on the specific language in the applicable statute which requires us to look at the amount of time spent lobbying “ in relation to the usual duties of [the person’s] employment.” 29 Del. C. § 5831 (b)(3).  Hence, our calculation arrived at the percentage of the person’s total work days in a year, not a percentage of days the legislature meets.
We hope this additional information is of assistance to you.

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.)


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.

When the Charter School Accountability Committee Approved the Five Charter School Modifications Did They Violate the Law?

Williams, Kimberly (LegHall)
Tue 3/22/2016 9:12 AM
Show all 12 recipients

Reardon, Allison E (DOJ);
Patterson, Gregory B. (DOJ);
Denn, Matthew (DOJ);
Siegel, Kim (DOJ);
Good Morning Allison, do you have an update with respect to our letter dated February 4, 2016 and when can we expect an answer from the DOJ? The Charter School Accountability Committee just recently approved major modifications to Delaware Public Safety and Security, Delaware Design Lab High School, First State Montessori, and Prestige Academy charter schools and a minor modification for Odyssey Charter School. Chuck Taylor, who is not a member of the Charter School Accountability Committee (Department of Education Committee), recently voted as a member of the Charter School Accountability Committee on whether or not these five charter school modifications were approved or not. Chuck Taylor is the president of the Delaware Charter Schools Network in which the News Journal reported as one of the top five lobbyists in Delaware. He is also Head of School for Providence Creek Academy Charter School. Delaware Charter Schools Network is a member of the Charter School Accountability Committee and that seat is held by Kendall Massett; she is a non-voting member without a proxy.
Members of Charter School Accountability Committee
On February 25, 2016, Chuck Taylor was a voting member of the Charter School Accountability Committee in which they approved all five of the charter school modifications even though Ms. Massett is a non-voting member without a proxy. Mr. Taylor’s votes violated Delaware code/regulations.  
It is going on two months since we sent our letter to you. We have code/regulations in place that people are abusing. The state is allowing a lobbyist group, whose mission is to expand charter schools, the power to approve charter school applications and their modifications by allowing them to sit on a DOE committee. I find it frustrating that the state continues to allow this to go on.
I look forward to your response.
Representative Kim Williams
19th District
302-577-8476 Wilmington Office
302-744-4351 Dover Office
Twitter: @kimwilliamsde

Members of the General Assembly asked AG Denn if the Executive Director of the Delaware Charter Schools Network should be Registered as a Lobbyist?

Last July, the News Journal reported that Delaware Charter Schools Network was one of the top five lobbyists in Delaware. Yet, when the Public Integrity Commission was contacted and when the January 2016 lobbyist report was reviewed, Delaware Charter Schools Network, Executive Director Kendall Massett and Board President Chuck Taylor were not registered lobbyists. They both are members of the Department of Education Charter School Accountability Committee which makes recommendations as to whether a charter school will open, expand, close, go on formal review or be modified. They both are seen regularly in Dover speaking with Senators, Representatives, members of the Department of Education, and the State Board of Education. They are soliciting support for certain educational bills and then lobbying hard against other educational bills. They wrote Senate Bill 171 (Sen. Sokola’s replacement bill for my Audit Bill) and they were in Dover on June 30th to campaign against House Bill 186 – Charter Audit Bill.

Yesterday, I was reviewing the current lobbyist report and Kendall Massett is now listed on the report. I am hoping DOJ will respond to our letter soon.


Update DOE Charter School Accountability Committee Member is Not a New Member She has been Serving on this Committee for Years

I have to dig and dig in order to stay on top of things in Dover. This is one of the reasons why I started this blog, to inform community members but for community members to inform me as well; education is a third of Delaware’s budget.

I thought Kendall Massett was replacing Chuck Taylor but she had been a member all along. I had requested from the Department of Education to name Chuck Taylor’s replacement after writing to them back in July. I had read on a blog that Chuck Taylor was named Head of School for Providence Creek Academy and I thought it was a conflict of interest. Mr. Taylor serving as a member of the Charter School Accountability Committee would be a conflict especially when Providence Creek would come before the Charter School Accountability Committee. Mr. Taylor apparently stepped down but I never received a response from DOE on his replacement. I saw the updated committee 2015-2016 roster and Chuck Taylor’s name had been removed, I just assumed Ms. Massett was his replacement, DOE’s roster does not list how long a member has served on the committee. 8 members of the Charter School Accountability Committee 2 members are charter school representatives.

Deborah Wilson, President and CEO, Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League is a new committee member, according to the News Journal article she is no longer serving as president on the Urban League.  I wonder if she will still be serving?

  • The Charter School Accountability Committee (“CSAC”) is a public committee convened by the Department of Education to review information and issue recommendations for all major accountability processes for the charters for which it is the approving authority. These processes include, but are not limited to, applications for new charter schools, major modifications, renewals, and formal review.

The News Journal posted an article titled: Special interests: Who lobbies most in Dover? The Delaware Charter School Network was named #5 in who lobbies the most in Dover. The primary group advocates on behalf of Delaware’s charter schools in Legislative Hall.

How can we have the Executive Director of Delaware Charter School Network sitting on a committee who views applications for new charter schools and charter schools major modifications, renewals, and formal review? Folks will say that she is not a voting member, I would say she has the power to influence and it is a conflict; her job is dependent on charter schools increasing and staying open. I would say that they probably even helped write the applications.

Delaware Charter School Network is a non-profit organization created in 2001 to support the charter school movement and charter schools in Delaware and they have a seat at the Charter School Accountability Committee.

I thought it was interesting that the Department of Education website has a link to Delaware Charter School Network.

Since 2013, we have had three charter schools close and DMA, Academy of Dover, and Family Foundations were/are investigated by the Auditor’s Office.

A total of 34 charters have opened, 7 have closed and 3 audit investigations have been reported/initiated showing the tax payers money being misused. 29.4% of Delaware charter schools have either closed or been under investigation. We cannot continue to use our children as experiments, they are the ones who suffer the most.

I will say that there are some good charter schools as well but some of those charter schools also have selective admissions process.