Red Clay Consolidated School District

Henry Clampitt, Thomas Pappenhagen, and Ashley Sabo are candidates running for election to the
District C Seat on the Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education. Candidate James R.
Startzman, Jr. withdrew March 30, 2017.

1. Please tell us what your connection and relationship is with the School District in which you are
seeking election to the Board of Education.

 Clampitt: I currently serve on the board of Gateway Lab School, a state charter school
located in Red Clay. Prior to that I served two years as a Co-President of the Parent
Association at the Charter School of Wilmington and five years as a board member. I
have worked with the Red Clay district on charter issues, strategic plans, policy revisions,
and citizen budget oversight. I have been a Red Clay resident for more than 30 years.

 Pappenhagen: We are a Red Clay family. Both of our daughters went k-12 through Red
Clay schools, graduating from Wilmington Charter. My wife was very involved in Red
Clay when the girls were young and worked as a contractor for Red Clay working on the
start up of the Red Clay Foundation. I have been a member of the Red Clay Community
Financial Review Committee for the past three years.

 Sabo: I am a lifelong Red Clay resident and third generation Woodland Heights
development homeowner. My husband and I have 3 daughters - two of whom currently
attend Red Clay schools. Our 15 year old daughter, Hayley, who we adopted, is finishing
her 9th grade year at A.I. DuPont High School and our 7 year old, Anna, who has special
needs is in full-inclusion at Forest Oak Elementary enjoying her 1st grade experience.
Our 4 year old, Lucy, is anxiously awaiting the day she can start school.

In December 2009, I gave birth to my first daughter. Shortly after her birth we learned
she had special needs and while the birth of any child changes a family’s life, ours
changed forever in completely unexpected ways. I quickly learned to be her voice and
advocate fiercely for her needs. While my role as advocate started in the medical and
health insurance arena, it grew to include education when Anna started at the
Meadowood Program and we entered the world of special education.

As the district discussed closing Central School and Richardson Park Learning Center, I
joined the committees to review and provide input to ensure parents’ voices were heard
and taken into consideration. From the inclusion committees, I became involved with
the strategic planning meetings, parent advisory councils, PTA president, and attendee at
district wide conferences such as the Trauma and Poverty Conference held in fall 2016
and Protecting Delaware’s Children conference held in March 2017.
I have spoken to legislators and gone to Dover to fight for education bills that would
benefit all students and what started as a mother fighting for her child grew into an
active community member working to make education better in Red Clay for all

It is my passion for education, learning, and growth that has led me to file to run for this
position on the Red Clay School Board. I have proven experience and established
relationships and I truly believe I am the best candidate for Red Clay’s students and
Delaware’s future leaders.

2. In your opinion, what is the purpose and function of an elected Board of Education?

 Clampitt: The role of the board is that of a public trustee. The key roles are to develop
goals, set policy, govern through policy and resolutions, oversee the budget, and to
employ and evaluate the Superintendent. The board should do these things by
consensus, reached through open debate and active listening in public meetings. The
board should ensure that it is meeting public demands in its oversight and that the
district is providing excellent education with equitable access for all students, conducted
with prudent fiscal effectiveness. Overall, the board should set a tone which builds the
highest possible public confidence in the school system.

 Pappenhagen: The school board sets strategic policy for the district and ensures that
that policy is carried out. It is the responsibility of the school board to stay abreast of
changes in educational policy on the state and federal level and ensure the district office
is in compliance. The board serves as a contact with the larger community of parents
and residents of the district.

 Sabo: The Board of Education is responsible for creating the policies, procedures, and
regulations for the district. The district superintendent, who is employed by the board,
administers the policies, procedures, and regulations established by the board. He or
she oversees the day-to-day functions of the district schools.

3. What are your opinions on A) School Choice overall, B) Magnet Schools, and C) Charter Schools?

 Clampitt:
i. School Choice: I fully support choice. I believe that choice becomes more
important for families as their children advance to secondary school and develop
individual interests, and that by providing great choices among our secondary
schools with differentiated programming we can retain and delight families in the
state and in our district. At the elementary school level, my first preference is to
ensure that every attendance zone school is viewed by its community as an
excellent school which their children can attend and become well-prepared for
access to all secondary choice programs which the district offers.
ii. Magnet Schools: I fully support our current magnet schools. These school exists
to meet community demand with unique programs, and because of this
uniqueness I believe they should operate with as much building-level autonomy
as we feel we can permit as a district.
iii. Charter Schools: I fully support our Red Clay charter schools, and I fully support
district residents who choose to attend state charter schools. Our charter schools
are well-regulated yet operate with high levels of autonomy and through their
public-board structure they permit many opportunities for active participation in
their governance by families and by members of the community.

 Pappenhagen: Disclaimer: Both of our daughters graduated from Wilmington Charter.
i. School Choice: I believe school choice serves a need and that parents should
have some input into where their children go to school. The competition
observed between schools as they compete for choice students in the district
benefits all.
ii. Magnet Schools:
iii. Charter Schools:

Magnet and Charter schools also serve a need, however admission preferences to
these schools have led to de facto segregation. I am troubled in that
approximately 6-7% of Wilmington Charter is African American (AA) while 20% of
the district is African American. People seemed to cheer when the percentage of
Wilmington Charter AA students went from 6% to 6.8%, but that is a change of
about 8 students. The population of AA students is back down to 6.3% this year.
Delaware Military Academy (DMA) appears to have a similar racial profile. Conrad
Schools of Science and Cab Calloway School of the Arts are both better, with an
approximately 13% AA student body. Numbers for low income students and
Special Education students track the AA numbers. I believe steps need to be taken
so that the charter and magnet student bodies better reflect the populations
feeding these schools. I do not think this necessitates lowering of admission
standards, but recruiting non-represented student populations and addressing
other factors which now keep these student populations artificially low.

 Sabo:
i. School Choice:
ii. Magnet Schools:
iii. Charter Schools:

It is my firm belief that the decisions the state and districts make need to benefit
all students and too often decisions have not been equitable. Many people think
you have to be for or against school choice; however, I do not believe that to be
the case. My 1st grader and 9th grader are both choiced into schools that are
not their feeder pattern schools. My 1st grader went to the Meadowood
Program for preschool and when we were deciding about her kindergarten
placement we wanted full inclusion but with the concern that she might need
more assistance and return to the Meadowood Program we sent her to Forest
Oak because that is where the elementary Meadowood Program is located and it
would be less of a change for her. We adopted our 9th grader and she was
coming from a different state to an entirely new area and school system. We
chose A.I. High School over her feeder pattern school because she had met a few
students that attended A.I over the summer before school started so having her
attend A.I. High School where she knew students would help her with the major
transition of moving to a new state, new family, new school, new everything.

I believe that choice should be used for reasons such as these or program based
decisions. Dickinson has a great IB program but it would not make sense for all
schools in the district to use their resources to replicate this program in each
school. Similarly a school like Cab Calloway is a specialty school for the arts
which is in line with the legislative intent of the Charter School code. The intent
of the legislation was for innovative and different school environments, teaching
and learning methods. However, schools with these special programs or draws
should not allowed to have such restrictive enrollment preference that entire
groups of students are excluded from attending. When the percentage of special
needs students and students in poverty level at comprehensive high schools is
compared to the magnet/charter schools it shows that the magnet/charter
schools seem to have become an exclusive educational environment.

The average population of special education students at Red Clay comprehensive
high schools (A.I. DuPont, Dickinson, McKean) is 18% compared to 2% at charter
and magnet schools (Charter School of Wilmington, Conrad, Cab Calloway, and
Delaware Military Academy). Low income families comprise 28% of
comprehensive high schools, while that number is 7.5% for charter and magnet
schools. It is my concern that the specialty schools in Red Clay are using
enrollment preferences to prevent access to all students. All schools must be
held to high standards of transparency and accountability while serving all
Another factor of school choice that I believe needs to be addressed is
transportation. Children living in poverty or low income situations are often
unable to obtain the transportation to attend a school they choice into since the
bus does not pick them up in their neighborhood. To make the choice option
impartial there needs to be more transportation options for families that choice
who do not the flexibility or ability to drive their students to the school or the bus
stop which is often not close to their home.

4. Where do you stand on school vouchers? How would they benefit or harm public education?

 Clampitt: I recognize that there are many voices of support for vouchers in our
community. However, there are too many unanswered questions about how voucher
(public) money can be assured to flow to well-run schools. Because of this, I do not
support vouchers. Instead, I feel that we should focus on providing great choices among
our traditional, magnet and charter schools in Red Clay, and develop a constructive
collaboration with our surrounding districts, state charters and vo-tech schools.

 Pappenhagen: I am strongly opposed to school vouchers. There seems to be
contradictory evidence as to whether voucher programs work or not and these studies
are seemingly aligned with the political ideology of the sponsoring group. I am
categorically opposed to using public funds for parochial schools and for students of
parents over certain income levels using vouchers to offset private school tuition. The
only possible valid use for vouchers would be for lower income, ELL and special
education students to provide them with opportunities not offered in their public
schools. Research as reported by the Brookings Institute
( and Journalist's
Resource (
choice-student-achievement) suggests no statistically significant gains for these groups
when using vouchers.

The other issue is that “voucher” seems to mean different things to different groups, so
until a program is defined it is harder to identify issues and/or flaws in the offering.

 Sabo: In short, they are not the solution. School Vouchers would not create stronger
schools but rather they would remove chunks of students, and money, from schools
which are deemed failing or subpar. However, not every student would be able to utilize
this option. The vouchers would most likely not cover the full cost of the schools families
would want their children to attend, which means there would still be a significant
amount of expense which falls to families. Families who are struggling to provide food
at every meal or children in the custody of the state would not be able to provide the
additional funding required to attend these schools which in turn would create great
inequity and segregation in schools.

In addition, there is little to no proof that a voucher system actually helps students’
academic performance or families in poverty. Why would we move to a system that is
not backed with great success?

The phrase ‘keep public money in public schools’ is often used in connection with the
question about vouchers. However, it goes beyond just keeping public money in public
schools. The focus should not just be on keeping taxpayer money in the public school
system but using the funds wisely, to equitably meet all student needs. It is not enough
to have a few good schools that require families to anxiously await lottery or interview
results, but we must make sure all school are meeting all student needs.

5. Do you believe that poverty affects education and educational resources?

 Clampitt: Yes

 Pappenhagen: Yes

 Sabo: Yes

 Why or Why Not?

i. Clampitt: Disadvantaged families in general have more stress and distractions
which can adversely affect their children’s participation in school. We need to
ensure that available supplemental resources can be applied appropriately in
schools for the benefit of these children, and to make new resources available
where they will be effective in advancing student achievement. And we need to
do all of this while upholding the same high expectations we have for all

ii. Pappenhagen: It’s interesting that this is still being debated. Multiple studies
demonstrate the impact of poverty on educational outcomes, and not in a
positive way. Is there a difference between educational outcomes in between
inner city and suburban schools? Absolutely. Is this difference due to poverty?
Absolutely. In the past suburban schools have had better resources including
parental support. Many recent efforts are underway to increase resources for
high poverty schools. While I don’t support the redistricting of Christiana’s inner
city schools into Red Clay as outlined in the WEIC proposals, I do support their
recommendations around increasing resources for high poverty, ELL, and k-3
special education students.

iii. Sabo: The News Journal recently printed a multi-part story on child abuse in
Delaware; it started with an article entitled "Schools Seeing more Neglected Kids."
The issue of poverty, child abuse and neglect cannot be separated from
education. The children who are victims of terrible abuse and neglect are the
same children filling some of the seats in our classrooms; who seem distracted
from the English lesson because their minds are filled with thoughts about
whether they will be safe when they go home. Children who live in poverty are
concerned about where their next meal will come from and what will fill their
empty bellies that growl during math class. Thoughts such as those make it
beyond difficult to focus on the educational task at hand which can often begin a
downward spiral where grades decline, work fails to be completed, and
achievement gaps widen.

Teachers who have incredible training on how to teach students to read or
complete a math problem or to understand gravity are not trained social workers.
However, they are the ones seeings kids come in their classroom each day and
have a prime spot to notice changes in behavior or new injuries or other alarming
issues. Does this mean we should train our educators and school staff to be
social workers? No. But given the role these adults play in students' lives there
should be training on how to notice the small things that could be evidence of a
bigger problem, who to contact, and how to help their students.

It has been proven that the brain physically changes when it undergoes extended
trauma such as witnessing violence, being neglected, or experiencing assault.
These changes mean that students with a high level of Adverse Childhood
Experiences (ACE) learn differently than other students. Students with complex,
compound trauma actually have different brain structures than children who do
not have similar experiences. How can an actual difference in brain structure not
impact a child’s educational needs?

School districts are not responsible for solving the issue of poverty or child abuse,
but to better serve all students there should be sufficient training to give
educators the tools they need to meet the needs of their students. Like legs to a
chair; education, children’s mental health, nutrition, and safety all work together
for a child’s success.
6. Delaware provides special education supports and resources for children with higher levels of
need in grades 4 through 12 but not for children in grades K through 3. Should Delaware
expand support for special education needs to K-3 children? Why or why not?

 Clampitt: Of course this funding should be available for K-3 students. No question. This
is mainly a state funding issue at present. Our board must express, to legislators, its
support for K-3 special education funding. And our legislators must resolve state
funding issues to provide it.

 Pappenhagen: Yes, we should expand support for students in k-3 with special education
needs. The earlier students are identified as having special needs and the earlier
resources and supports are put into place the better I would expect the outcome to be.
Early intervention is key. Representative Williams sponsored legislation to this effect,
although funding is an issue as we sort through the current budget crisis.

 Sabo: Absolutely! Research shows that early intervention for children who have or at risk
of developmental delays has a positive correlation to future academic success. Children
who receive the necessary assistance in early grades often need less intensive support in
later grades - some students even, are able to go forward without any extra support. By
providing additional funding for basic education in early elementary grades, future costs
for educating students can be reduced. While I understand there is currently a large
state budget deficit, I still believe this is an added expense that is necessary for
prolonged growth and benefit to our educational system.

It could be likened to replacing a large, outdated HVAC system in your house with a
more energy efficient system. There is an upfront cost with installing the new system,
but the monthly energy expense is reduced due to the more efficient system.

If funding is allocated for basic special education in grades K-3, there will be an
additional cost for the units added. However, the long-term benefits will outweigh the
short term costs to Delaware.

7. Below is an excerpt from a Baltimore Sun story summarizing recent legislation making its way
through the Maryland legislature focusing on suspension & expulsion policies for students in
Pre-K through 2nd grade. Please share your thoughts on this and how it could pertain to
Delaware schools.
 Clampitt: In general, my view is that suspension should be a last resort after all
reasonable in-school intervention and support measures have been exhausted. And
upon suspension, appropriate intervention and support should be extended to the
student at home until their return to school. My personal influence on specific
suspension issues will be to defer these decisions wherever possible, all of which are
unique and individual, to the professionals that we have hired i.e., the administrators and
teachers. Safety of the students is the highest priority, and we must strive to never lose
sight of the need to educate and support students once a safety situation is resolved.

 Pappenhagen: I think this seems like an upgrade to existing Delaware policy.
Suspending students this age doesn’t teach them anything. They need interaction and
corrections to their behavior, not expulsion. How do we teach appropriate behavior in
schools when students are not in school? Expulsions would seem appropriate for
violence against other students or teachers.

 Sabo: It only takes to a Google search to find numerous reports and studies which show
the negative impact of suspensions and expulsion on student including a less healthy
school environment, lower academic achievement, and increase in dropout rates. Most
of these reports are actually discussing middle and high school students. If the negative
impacts of suspension and expulsion are that great on older students, how much more
so for younger students?

Often time students who seem to be the most disruptive or have the greatest behavioral
challenges are the same students who have experienced neglect, trauma, poverty, or
have special needs. Labeling students as troublemakers or other similar titles sets them
up for failure - a label follows a student and shapes a teacher’s expectations of the
student. Rather than choosing punishments like detentions, suspension, or expulsion a
multitude of other methods should be used to reach the child.

In 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education issued
policy guidance which encouraged schools to incorporate a wide range of strategies to
reduce misbehavior and maintain a safe learning environment, including conflict
resolution, restorative practices, counseling, and structured systems of positive
interventions. The use of the aforementioned strategies not only help resolve behavioral
problems in a classroom, but also provide important life skills which students can
incorporate later in life when they face conflicts.

Rather than labeling a student, suspending or expelling them - especially in early grades
- methods and strategies should be used that go to the root of the issue not just the
behavior that is exhibited in the classroom or school. By providing a student these
resources, they not only have better opportunity for academic success, but opportunities
for their life beyond the classroom.

8. Governor Carney has repeatedly said that the Delaware Department of Education will be
refocused as a support service for schools and districts. What are three items or services that
you would ask the Governor to prioritize?

 Clampitt:
i. Student Achievement Standards: Establish the standards, with least-intrusive
testing requirements.
ii. District and School Ratings: Find out what the public really wants to know,
measure that, and publish it on a timely basis.
iii. Targeted Investment: Provide a clearinghouse for comparing practices with
tangible results, then provide districts with transitional seed funding to
demonstrate what works. Permanent funding would have to come from the
legislature and the districts.

 Pappenhagen: A few thinks come to mind (although I'm sure these priorities will change
with more experience):
i. Increase oversight and transparency for charter schools, including setting
expectations for management and performance and then monitoring against
agreed upon metrics.
ii. Find synergistic ways for the districts to work together, sharing resources for
staff/teacher development.
iii. Lead effort to see which, if any, programs lead to reduced needs for remediation
at the start of college and share those results with other schools in the state.

 Sabo:

As I have said before, strong communities require strong schools. The state cannot
focus on reducing healthcare costs, mental health related issues such as addiction,
poverty, and overpopulation of prisons without addressing educational concerns.

Funding for basic special education for grades K-3 is of vital importance and will
have significant long term benefits. When we invest in our children, providing
them the resources and education they need, we invest in our State’s future.
Supports to tackle social and emotional issues that plague our children due to toxic
stress, complex trauma, poverty, abuse, neglect and other factors should be made a
priority. When reports from the National Alliance on Mental Health show that 1 in
5 students have a serious mental illness, that the onset of mental illness can occur
beginning at age 7, and that up to 44% of students with mental health issues drop
out of school, it is apparent there is a major crisis that is grossly under treated.
Students who have these mental health issues are not able to focus on their
academics, are more likely to develop addictions and less likely to maintain
employment. The topic of childhood mental illness needs to be more actively
discussed and treatment needs to be a priority.

Every day 4 to 5 children die from abuse. Every 10 seconds a report of child abuse
is made. Children who have been abused and neglected are more likely to be
arrested as both a juvenile and as an adult, as well as more likely to commit a
violent crime. About 80% of abuse and neglect victims are likely to meet the
criteria for at least one psychological disorder. These statistics cannot be ignored
and the topic cannot be quietly dealt with. We must be bold in our actions to
make prevention and treatment of child abuse a priority.

9. Governor Carney's proposed budget for fiscal year 2018 places tens of millions of dollars of
State public education funds at risk of being eliminated. Now that the budget process is in the
General Assembly's hands, what words of advice do you have for our legislators?

 Clampitt: Listen to all voices. There are plenty of good things to spend money on in
education, and the public can be convinced to spend money on what works so spend
some time to consider (i) how do you really know what works; and (ii) how will you
convince the public to pay for it. Don’t assume that everything is being done efficiently
today, ask the districts and the DOE to find some savings. Don’t lose sight of the
potential benefits of district consolidation, and don’t give up easily when roadblocks to
consolidation are thrown in your path.

 Pappenhagen: To be clear, we’re talking about this:

Governor Carney’s Budget Reset Plan for Fiscal Year 2018:
1) $22 million reduction to Educational Sustainment Fund; Delaware school districts
would receive flexibility to raise the match tax without referendum to cover reductions to
the Sustainment Fund.
2) $15 million reduction to school district & charter school operations.

While all areas need to share the pain of the budget reductions and the districts seem to
be accepting of the initial $15M reduction, passing on the additional $22M in cuts (and
increased transportation cost-sharing by the districts) while possibly allowing districts to
recapture most of this reduction by increasing transfer taxes without a referendum
seems irresponsible. The state should deal with their budget issues and if they decide
that taxes need to be raised they should be the one to raise them. Passing this on to the
districts damages the relationships the districts have with their parents and jeopardizes
the success of future referendums.

Additionally, prior year’s tax cuts disproportionately benefited the wealthy, while
proposed tax increases disproportionately penalize the working poor and middle class. I
find the argument that we can’t increase the tax rate on upper wage earners as they
might be driven from the state absurd, as if the middle class is trapped and too poor to
be able to leave the state so it’s okay to saddle them with the tax burden.

 Sabo: Legislators must remember they were elected to represent the people in their
community and make decisions, often tough decisions, that are best for their
constituents. Personal agendas and political gain need to be put aside. In the face of
looming budget cuts, legislators need to protect our state’s future by making education
a priority and look at every possible area of unnecessary bureaucratic spending in order
to prevent cuts to education.

10. Please share any additional thoughts or comments you would like us to share when we post
your responses and know that we sincerely thank you for taking the time to respond to our

 Clampitt: In these financially-challenging times for Delaware, be sure that your board
members as a group have a broad mix of perspectives, capabilities, personal initiative
and public support. Every district will probably have to do with less in the short run, and
a board which can represent all views and still deal with these challenges collaboratively
is going to be a big asset to your community.

Check my website at to more information.


I am a Red Clay parent with 20 years business leadership experience and 12 year
teaching experience at the high school and college level. I have the background to
understand what our children need to succeed and the ability to shape education policy
and budgets to benefit our Red Clay families and children.

Work Experience
DuPont R&D Chemist, Research Manager, Six Sigma Black Belt, 1985-2005
Middletown High School Teacher: math, statistics and chemistry, 2005-current
Delaware Technical Community College Adjunct
PhD - Purdue University
MBA - University of Delaware
BA - Kenyon College

 Sabo: The role of school board member is often a thankless job which requires
countless hours of time and dedication. The role is one of services to the educational
community and should not be entered into lightly. I have worked diligently over the past
number of years alongside current board members, district staff, and educators to
ensure district decisions are best for all students. I have actively been involved, taking a
stand as needed, while remaining respectful and maintaining relationship I have built
allowing them to grow, in order to be beneficial for collaboration of ideas and skills to
effect change.

 With every committee I have served on and every project I have been part of in Red Clay,
I have become increasingly invested in this district and committed to our students. I
have spent numerous days and hours spending time with our educators and staff and I
see the wonderful things they are doing. I see the dedication and care they have for our
students. But I have also seen the areas that need improvement and growth. When I
commit to something I give 150% and I am committed to working for and serving Red
Clay to ensure that it only gets better. These kids are our future. They will be tomorrow's
leaders and they need a good foundation to build upon as they go out into the world. I
would not be asking for people’s support if I did not think I am the best candidate for
school board - I ensure you, the vote, I will work tirelessly for our kids, our educators,
and our community.