April 3, 2014 Dear State Board of Education Members and Secretary Murphy, The Delaware Department of Education has recently awarded an initial approval to five new charter applications. Red Clay Consolidated School District, the only other charter authorizer in the state, has expressed concerns with four of these applications in a letter composed by their Superintendent Merv Daugherty, Chief Financial Officer Jill Floore, and Director of Secondary Schools Sam Golder. Of the five proposed new charter schools, four would draw a significant number of students from the Red Clay School District. The above mentioned letter details the impact these proposed charters would have on Red Clay in terms of financial and enrollment impact, as well as overall program impact. The school district’s main concern is the significant hardship that would be placed on the district should these charters be approved, with a reduction of more than 800 students and a loss of $2.6 million in local funds. It is reasonable to assume that if all the New Castle County school districts were to outline the impact these proposed charters would have, we would see similar apprehensions raised. As members of the General Assembly and representatives of the families and students who will be impacted by these potential new charters, we too have deep concerns about their effects on Red Clay School District, the other school districts of New Castle County and the community at large. One charter submission that has generated serious concerns from our constituents is the application submitted by Freire Charter School. In the policy written by the proposed school’s board, Freire mandates a recommendation of expulsion for all acts of violence – including acts of self-defense. Acts of violence towards another person include, but are not limited to, the following: hitting, slapping, hair pulling, throwing things at another person, physically invading another individual’s personal space in order to intimidate them, yelling, screaming, cursing, using violence to defend yourself, etc. There are no second chances for students who break this policy. First, it should be noted that, according to any Student Code of Conduct, a school can expel a student if they act out in a violent manner. However, Friere looks to put the burden back on the districts by employing mechanisms that are not available to the rest of traditional public schools.

Friere’s mission is to provide a college prep learning experience with a focus on individual freedom, critical thinking, and problem solving, in an environment that emphasizes the value of community, teamwork, and non-violence. How is this mission different than that of every other Delaware public school? The Delaware Code is clear that charter schools create an alternative to traditional public schools operated by school districts and improve public education overall. The code encourages the use of different and innovative or proven school environments and teaching and learning methods. It appears, based on the information provided by the board, that the application submitted by Friere Charter School does not meet these requirements as currently outlined in the Delaware law. The state must do everything in its power to ensure that all families and children have the opportunity to attend schools that are a welcome part of the community, and this includes the community of public schools that charter schools will be operating amongst. Delaware Code spells out that an authorizer must consider “the potential positive and negative impact of the proposed new school or expansion on the schools and the community from which the charter school's new students will likely be drawn.” The charters that the state approves must, at the very least, provide our students with a wholly unique and high-quality education. It is not clear that these five charters, especially those that will impact the public school districts of New Castle County, will meet these expectations. If we do not get a grasp on the authorization process soon, we quite possibly will have a revolving door of charters, where they will be shut down at a rate similar to the approval of new applications. That is an untenable situation. We trust that you will take all of this information into consideration, and we look forward to working with you to ensure a quality education for all Delaware students regardless of which schools they attend.


Kimberly Williams State Representative, 19th District

Helene Keeley State Representative, 3rd District

Patricia Blevins State Senator, 7th District President Pro Tempore of the Senate

Deborah Hudson State Representative, 12th District House Minority Whip

Michael Barbieri State Representative, 18th District

John Kowalko State Representative, 25th District

Paul Baumbach State Representative, 23rd District Joseph Miro State Representative, 22nd District

Andria Bennett State Representative, 32nd District John L. Mitchell State Representative, 13th District Stephanie Bolden State Representative, 2nd District Michael Mulrooney State Representative, 17th District Gerald Brady State Representative, 4th District

Earl Jaques State Representative, 27th District

Edward Osienski State Representative, 24th District

James Johnson State Representative, 16th District

Karen Peterson State Senator, 9th District

Charles Potter State Representative, 1st District

Bryan Townsend State Senator, 11th District

Dennis E. Williams State Representative, 10th District

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