The Sunset Committee reviewed the State Board of Education, they met on February 1, 2017. You can see all the documents that the State Board of Education submitted to the Sunset committee members, I have highlighted a few of the documents below. I sat in during the review, here are a few things that I took away from the review. I found former Rep. Scott’s comments supporting the State Board of Education interesting, I believe former Rep. Scott was the enabler with respect to the State Board of Education when he chaired the House Education committee. I was also surprised by Dr. Allen’s letter of support, the State Board of Education would not allow Dr. Allen or Dr. Rich to speak at certain times during the WEIC presentations.
School districts do not feel that the State Board of Education is an ally.
They do not hold meetings in the evening; teachers, community members, parents, and legislators cannot make their meetings.
They do not allow for public comment for all items on the agenda.
They are not accountable to anyone.
Their meetings are too long.
They do not take a formal vote when they oppose or support legislation, the executive director attends House/Senate Education Meetings and gives comments.
Sunset Committee requested a list of State Board of Education members and the committees/task forces etc. that they have served on.
Charters go to the State Board of Education first instead of the local boards.
One person who came out and offered a positive comment with respect to the State Board of Education was former State Representative Darryl Scott.
A few charter school leaders were there as well.
No school districts were present or to my knowledge sent in any comments about the State Board of Education.
Dr. Tony Allen sent in a letter of support as well.
The State Board of Education did not follow the law with regards to WEIC as stated in Senate Bill 122. The State Board was suppose to vote no or yes –if they voted no they needed to send a response back to the commission as to why they voted no. The State Board President, Dr. Gray, instructed someone (possibly Donna Johnson) to have a side bar off the record, which in my opinion, should not have happened, again I think they broke the law with regards to open meeting laws. The president of the State Board would not allow for Dr. Allen or Dr. Rich to give a public comment even though it was promised. The attorney for the State Board stated that the law allowed for public comment if the President agreed to it.
After the WEIC Commission left and the meeting was still taking place, the State Board President Dr. Gray, came over to the attorney’s table and had another side bar conversation, off the record, asking the attorney about WEIC. These are public meetings and there should be no conversations off the record.
Today, House Bill 232 was filed. This Act will require the State Board of Education to accept public comment on all agenda items at its meetings, including charter school applications and changes to regulations. The Board is not required to accept public comment concerning student disciplinary appeals. The Board retains discretion to limit the manner, length, and timing of public comment at its meetings.
The State Board’s mission statement speaks about being in collaboration with community and stakeholders, the DE State Board of Education serves as the primary voice for Delaware citizens on education policy, but does not allow for public comment on the day that certain action items are going to be voted on.
I attend the State Employees Health Plan Task Force meeting yesterday from 10:00 to 12:00 at Buena Vista, the place was packed. This is the 2nd meeting of the task force. Ann Visalli was getting ready to adjourn the meeting. I asked if there would be public comment period and Ms. Visalli answered me with a “no”. Ann Visalli stated that public comment could be made by email (Suggestions Mailbox which is not working) or through the Public Testimony Meetings and those meetings have ended.
As a State Representative, I was not allowed to make a public comment at the end of the meeting.
I attended one of the Public Testimony Meetings and all they give you is a brief overview of the purpose and objective of the State Employees Health Plan Task Force. The real discussion is taking place during the task force meetings, the public should be allowed to make a public comment.