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Free HB50 and Join in the Parent Press Conference on April 1st

HB 50 - more affectionately known as the Parent Opt-Out Bil - has become a political hostage.  House Ed. Committee Chair Earl Jaques has not placed the bill on the committee's agenda.  

Unless it is heard in committee and sent to the Ready-List HB 50 will die a slow, quiet death during this legislative season. 

One man, propped up by our Gov, is blocking the democratic process and judgement day on the rights of parents in Delaware.  

There are millions of reasons for this. Political favor being high on the list. 

But, Delaware is a small state.  Every resident is within 75 minutes of our state capitol and their legislators.  

Exceptional Delaware has announced a press parent press conference for April 1, 2015.  It's time for parents to push back against the gatekeepers who have shutdown our government and shut us out of our own democracy.

It's time to go to Dover!

Save The Date: Parent Press Conference Is Now April 1st

No April Fools!  The date for the Parent Press Conference will be changed to April 1st, at 5pm outside Legislative Hall in Dover.  This way more people who want to come can attend!  Sorry for the last minute decision on this Wednesday.  This is not a rally.  This is a press conference so parents can talk about their frustration with what has been happening in Delaware education.  The main points will be House Bill 50, opt out and standardized testing, but also the frustration parents are feeling with education and being left out of key decisions.  Any organization or group is more than welcome to attend and participate, but the main focus is everyday parents.
Please save the date and do your best to attend.  The more people that are there, the bigger the difference it could make.  Please contact me at if you would like to speak at the press conference.  I will be sending a press release to the media outlets in the tri-state area in a few days.

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Un-Chair Rep. Earl Jaques...

A shameless plug in support of Exceptional Delaware's IPetition to Un-Chair Rep. Earl Jaques from the Delaware House Education Committee.

That's Jaques, pronounced Jakes, not Jauques or Jack-Ess.

Sign here:
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Jaques Calls My Children Failures!

Unfit to head education committee? Yep!

He's a liar and coward! A Markell Shill.  And on that note, he can go to hell!

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Fast food frenzy for state employees?

News journal reports that DOE has 250 employees...

There's your top-heavy administrative dollars at work. That's an easy 20 million tied up in salaries alone.  Want to close Christina's operational deficit? Cut some human capital out of DOE and send those dollars to the districts.

What a sad statement - buried in an article about p cards and fast food.
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Referendum Day - The Precarious Balance Between Public Education Funding and Those Who Fund It.

Referendums can build schools and divide communities. These archaic funding mechanisms are the life blood of Delaware's traditional public schools in a state that has whittled away it's own personal support for those it is asked to educate.  And the benefits flow flow from the districts to our charters. To be fair, there have always been legislative and local voices  that have challenged the dwindling of education dollars by our state leadership. But, these folks are the minority.  They are beacons of sanity in a sea of craziness.

But, referendums, though a lifeblood, also represent a sacred trust between elected school board members an their constituents. Though seldom discussed,  school board members are called to a greater Challenge than just funding the education of our children and making policy.  They are called to balance the needs of our children with the tax payers ability to fund it.  This isn't a new concept. But, it is the hard work of the elected.

And in Christina it's infinitely more difficult than it should be.  As much as we want to blame the recession as a greatest likelihood for potential failure, CSD's biggest obstacle is itself. Our district just can't get over its history.  Sshhhhh.  Don't tell, we don't like to talk about it.  Yet, it's as glaring as the shuttered solar power factory that's a hop, skip, and a jump from my own home.

So let's dispel some myths and rehash some history -

The solar panel factory on executive drive is for sale and has been for at least four years.  Find a buyer and I suspect the district would succinctly close the deal.  They want it for its future potential.  They can't afford to fit it out to be the school of tomorrow.  It stands as a sad reminder that CSD could never afford it, that we, the public,  were all duped by a dirty Broad superintendent named Joey Wise, who fled to Florida and continue to wreak havoc on school children there.  Yeah, that guy, he's his own consultancy now - Atlantic Partners.

Fact:  Districts have received fewer state dollars consistently over the last 8 to 10 years.  The remaining funds that have been earmarked for education and operations have become more prescriptive and restrictive. From now to eternity, we will all lament the loss of the Minner Units and decry the required data coaches that took their place.

Yet Unknown:  There is no plan for CSD's city schools.  The public is woefully mistaken when it assumes that CSD "giving" its city schools to Red Clay.  The board resolution to align with the preliminary WEAC recommendations has no legal girth.  Even the state is at a loss for how to proceed.  And the rumors, spawned by floating bills, that have yet to have been dispelled are flabbergasting:

1. CSD's city schools will go to Red Clay? or just the priority schools?
2. Red Clay is asking for 8 years of funding from CSD for the schools in question.
3. The whispered-of weighted funding formula for the city schools will bankrupt the suburbs.
4. DOE is going to stop authorizing charter schools in the city.
5. The latest - A capital referendum in two years to address the aging operational systems of our buildings.

It's this list that weighs on me and churns through my head at night.  With so many questions, it's hard to lend a vote to support the referendum in my district. I understand fully what will happen if today's referendum fails. Cuts.  We all hate cuts. They bleed...everywhere. And they just don't make band-aids big enough for these cuts...

But, I, like many others, have to find a balance between what is right for the 15,000 kids my taxes support and for the two our already stretched paychecks provide.

In the end, I know my vote.
I'm pretty sure you do, too.
And we'll all live with the hand that fate's dealt us.
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Another Cold Day in Christina? Not.

Forecast Tomorrow:  A crystal clear, warm and toasty 23 degrees, mid-day, after the kids have stood at bus stops in the 0's.  They'll call it, you say.  I wonder.  The Big Two, NCCo's largest districts have quite a conundrum.  Call it another COLD day like last Friday. Announce it early? and risk lowering the turnout for their referendums?  Or put kids at bus stops at 0 degrees? Tell parents that it's their choice. 

Which will it be?
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The Smell of Burnt Chocolate...

Is it coming from Dover or just the United Cocoa Processing Plant...

Thank You to all our elected leadership who, yesterday, weighed in on Race to the Top.

My favorite quote comes from Harris McDowell:
"Most races have a tape that the racers get cross, a finish line. When is the finish line for Race to the Top?" asked Harris McDowell, D-Wilmington North, who co-chairs the JFC. "When do we finish this, or are we just building a permanent bureaucracy?"

Where were you Mr. McDowell back in 2008?  2009? 2010? and onward?  There is no finish line. Just as there was no finish line with NCLB.  RTTP was not the answer nor the panacea.  It turned education into a competition.  A sacred fundamental right, the greatest entitlement program of our time, sullied by a Race to Nowhere. RTTT hurt kids and it hurt teachers.  It destabilized and devastated schools.  It has been a time bomb.  So please, don't let that bomb detonate on Delaware's tax payers.  You and your colleagues have the ability to eliminate the overhead in DOE, at least $1.5 mil of it.  De-fund the RTTT-created positions and send the carpetbaggers home. Tell the nation that the layovers in Dover have been grounded.    
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Ninjas and Other Things that make me angry...

Little Things that make me angry, my random list:

1. Little League and Jackie Robinson West.  Yep.  Because somewhere along the way, adults decided it was better to cheat to success than to teach children the value of earning it and learning it.  And these adults shot their team into national stardom, only to rip it back, like pulling a sticky bandage off a yeti. But, the yeti was kids.  It's always the kids who are hurt most.

2.  Brian Williams. God, yes. Brian Williams.  He's been there.  He'll be there.  But, I won't.  I can't.  If I were the yeti, he ripped the sticky band-aid from me. I remember one Brian Williams report in particular - The Fleecing of America.  And in this episode of Fleecing, Lisa Myers brought to light issues with the Coast Guard's "some-say-failed" millions-of-dollars-spent Deepwater project. Perceived "metal fatigue" had shortened the lives of these cutter revamps from 30 years to 5 and rendered them "unseaworthy" for long distance.

(Wait, don't go, there is a point to this story.)

Metal fatigue?  Years later an extremely trustworthy source of mine shared that the problem with Coast Guard ship "Bertholf" was in fact "metal fatigue" due to the improper installation of the heads (bathrooms). The nations best and brightest has determined that installation had been "subcontracted out" to labor that knew even less about the science of making boats float than you and I.

Apparently, boats don't just naturally float.  There is an entire science around it. A specialty, but not a major offered a Berkeley. Floating boats requires that all parts work in tandem, and in this case, the heads were doing their own damn thing.

Why this story? I know that the government is fleecing me, every day.  I know that my tax dollars are being wasted in a million ways. I can accept it, because I KNOW it because I could count on you to tell me.  But, I can't accept your lies, Brian.  As a world class anchorman, your job was to instill trust in your viewers.  It was what brought us back to you night after night at 6:30 pm.  But, you lied to us, and I know I can't trust you.  You put you before the news, before the public, before the trust.  You did your own damned thing.

3. School Board members who are afraid they will be redistricted out of a "job."  Yep. that's you George Evans. I can say it, you are a public figure.  You are my public figure. You serve my district.  But, you failed to support a resolution to align to the findings of the WEAC committee.  Why? You fought tooth and nail to get a judge to appoint you to the CSD board.  And the WEAC findings leave ineffective and ultimately "jobless.".  You heard me. You are either asleep at the dais or preaching to your fellow board members. Neither of which serves this district's children. And a sad fact of life is that this district will for some unknown reason re-elect you. You are the definition of insanity.

Here's what you missed while you thinking about yourself:  If CSD's city schools are moved to Red Clay, a whole world of opportunity opens up for these students.  Red Clay has charters and magnet schools that CSD students can only dream of attending.  It's about opening the door to the vast array of educational choices. It's a whole universe CSD can't offer.  But, any of these choices may be the hook that keeps our kids in school and off the streets.

4. CSD's WEAC Resolution.  I work around education.  This week was especially interesting for me.  CSD and its city schools are the talk of the town.  Including the misconception that CSD has agreed to give its city schools to Red Clay.  It may be nuanced, resolving to align to interim findings vs resolving to give away the schools, but it is important.  Because, right now, lots of tax payers, members of the public, think that CSD is is working toward giving its schools away.

5. Referendums.  Specifically CSD's.  CSD has proposed elevating my school taxes to complete with those in Pennsylvania raising what I pay from $2500 to $3700 over four years. The honest truth CSD, I can't afford you. I don't live in a McMansion. I live in a 1980s family home that is still cosmetically 1980s, is prone to flooding, and has been partially assumed into wetlands by the state/fed designation. Like many of the "new poor," I have to choose what bills to pay each month and fear that ultimately, I won't be able to pay my mortgage.  For now, I'm fortunate to have family that helps us because they understand that our children, especially our special need child, needs the continuity of this home life to be successful now. This referendum, it's driving my endgame fast and hard and we are delving into the reality that relocation may be our only option if we ever plan to pay off our debt and secure our future.  And if I relocate, it is very likely that I will choose a school district that offers magnet and choice programs, not the bare bones that CSD offers me today.

6. Being Critical of Christina.  Yep, I hate that one more than anything else.  I served CSD, I lived and breathed CSD for four years.  I bled you, Christina.  I still love you, but two years out, I am astounded by you.  I have to play the "devil's advocate." I have to ask the hard questions of your board members. They need to know what the public discourse sounds like, not just what's being said in their insulated bubbles. And I need to ask these questions because, today, I am a private citizen paying taxes to you. Some of the questions are damn good ones. So, I ask publicly on various blogs, using my name, sometimes with sarcasm, sometimes with wit, sometimes my demeanor flops.  The problem, Christina, is that you are not communicating with me.  You are not telling me where you want to go. You are, unfortunately, leaving yourself open to wide speculation.  And that worries me.  From the outside, it appears your ship has metal fatigue. You have too many heads doing their own damn thing.

Here are the rumors that you need to address if you have a hope and dream of passing our referendum:

  • Will you give your schools to Red Clay?  If you do, won't that result in the need to for less tax dollars? not more?
  • The word is that Red Clay wants all of your city schools. But, they also want 8 years of weighted funding.  How much is that price tag?
  • Will any of the new replacement operating funds be sent to Red Clay with the schools?
  • The City provides approx. 20% of the districts tax collection. What percentage of suburban generated funds will sent to Red Clay or harvested to pay the $24 million priority price tag?
  • Have you successfully ensured that your teachers will keep their jobs in the city schools?
  • Have you communicated to the families of City students regarding redistricting?  Where will this year's city fifth and eighth graders go to school next year? Their families want to know.
  • Have you considered engaging Red Clay as the management organization for your priority schools, ensuring that CSD students remain CSD students.
  • You are held up across the state as the district with no choices. What are doing about that?  Where are our magnet schools? alternative grade level configurations? 
  • Are you planning to go to capital referendum next? Cause that's your rumor.
  • What happens in the suburbs when the city goes to Red Clay? Will you maintain the population needed to operate three high schools in the burbs as you also compete with the newly opened Newark Charter High School. Or will we see school closure in the next 10 or 15 years?  
  • When are you going to do something with Executive Drive?
7. The last thing I hate today: Leaders who want to fleece little old ladies and who float that threat right before the two biggest districts in the state go to referendum.  Gov. Markell are you trying to render your traditional districts helpless? Your education policy has hurt students, teachers, and families deeply over the last six years. I know, you don't care.  But, come on, going after little old ladies and their purses?  That's just plain wrong.   

Well, now that I've gotten that off my chest, there's a good chance that I will once again disappear into oblivion.  Reality wise, this blog has run its course and my words are less valued and appreciated than ever before. Writing a blog takes time and thick skin.  As I become less politician and more mother, my skin looses its thickness. I'm a wimpy girl in a wimpy world. We can only wonder which direction the wimpy wind will blow.

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EPIC! CSD Selfie!

Charter or Close?  Despite the mantra that CSD hums - we are charter-friendly - the question is:  Will they really throw their children to the charter "wolves?" or will they close three schools just to prove the point - it's better to be right and to have failed than to be right and "to have met DOE half way and salvaged some semblance of continuity for the children involved?"

In all fairness, the half way mark was passed, burned, and buried a long  time ago.  I think if you dig deep enough, you'll find it in board member John Young's backyard.

Lots of quotations marks.  You figure out what it means.

Art to Follow!
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Abuse of the Code of Conduct in Brandywine? A father's plea:

This plea found its way to my facebook page last night.  It is, truthfully, only one side of an incredible story. Laws being what they are, we will never know Mr. Keith Rolph's version of events. But, this series of events raises deep concerns about the development, training, and implementation of Brandywine's Code and those charged with enforcing it.  

The ultimate question: is this item a weapon or a tool? The answers most certainly will be divined by Brandywine's board of education. The conclusion being something that could derail a promising students future.

Was this item a weapon or a tool?  In my opinion - I haven't seen it.  I googled for images of similar tools. And I believe that if this was indeed made of plastic, it is a tool.  For if it were divined that this item is a weapon, then every child and adult who carries a key to school should be found in violation of the code and should face suspension and expulsion.  Why? I use my keys daily to open boxes in my line of work, which happens to be in a school.  And every child and adult who carries a bank card or credit card to school should again face the same consequences as Joseph Wahl. Why? They are as easily shaved into a shiv as a spork - another common item in schools.  And what about those scissors that Patrick Wahl mentions?  And pencils?  I can tell you one hell of a revolting pencil story shared to me by a current CSD board member up for re-election... 

You decide - based on this one-sided narrative - Was it a Weapon or a Tool?

On Friday, January 30, Brandywine High School Assistant Principal Mr. Keith Rolph took my son, Brandywine High School junior Joseph Wahl, out of his class and asked him to hand over his book bag. Mr. Rolph did not give my son any reason or explanation whatsoever for his taking my son out of his class and to his office, much less for searching his book bag. My son had no idea what was happening or why.

My son represents Brandywine High School with distinction as both a scholar and an athlete. Joseph was selected this year as one of the two juniors representing Brandywine High School in DYLN, the very prestigious Delaware Youth Leadership Network. Joseph was nominated for this honor by … Brandywine High School.
Mr. Rolph never shared with my son what, if any, accusation had been made against my son, even after the search. Mr. Rolph did not find whatever it was he had been looking for. In fact, Mr. Rolph found nothing he knew to be of any concern at all. But he did find something with which he was unfamiliar — a piece of plastic the size and shape of a credit card, sealed in clear packaging, and about which he questioned Joseph.
Mr. Rolph asked Joseph what it was. Joseph explained that it is a tool he sells on eBay, and Joseph showed Mr. Rolph his eBay page on which he sells a variety of items very successfully. Mr. Rolph opened the package to examine it but needed Joseph’s help to figure out how to assemble it and to see what it was for — a box cutter sold primarily as a novelty item, often for $1 or even less, because it fits in your wallet.
Joseph was stunned when Mr. Rolph told him that because Joseph had brought a weapon to school, he would be suspended for five days and the police would be notified! My son’s head spun as he tried to make sense of what was happening. Did someone suspect him of being violent? Why was his bag searched? What were they looking for? What’s going on?
Mr. Rolph, an experienced administrator presumably trained to recognize weapons, did not recognize this plastic device as a weapon — Joseph had to explain to him what it was. Certainly, if Mr. Rolph did not recognize it as a weapon, it is understandable how Joseph never thought of these items as such when he inadvertently left two of them in his bag which he carries everywhere.
After the search was over, Mr. Rolph still offered Joseph no reason or explanation for the search, but instead began asking Joseph bizarre questions and making strange statements my son could not understand. "Have you tried marijuana?” "Do you hang around people who do?” “Were you in the stairwell behind the school during Period 4?” — a time when Joseph was in class. “We know who you run with!” “Be careful who you hang out with!” He asked Joseph if he knew particular other students — students who Joseph had never spoken to nor with whom Joseph had ever had any contact whatsoever in his life.
Joseph says, “After the search, he filled out disciplinary forms and told me to sign them. He called my dad, and while we waited for my dad to arrive, I was even more confused by his questions and comments. I felt he was making light of what just happened. He talked about his son's swimming career at Salesianum and fiddled with his telephone cord. He acted as if he had not just suspended me for 5 days and called the police.”
When I arrived and joined Joseph in Mr. Rolph’s office, Mr. Rolph told me that Joseph had brought a weapon to school. For the first time in my life, I saw my son, the 16 year old black belt with the athletic build, simply break down sobbing. My heart sank as all I could do was throw my arms around him and try to reassure.
Mr. Rolph asked Joseph to leave the room. Mr. Rolph said he wanted to share information with me that he had not shared with Joseph. Once Joseph was out of the room, Mr. Rolph told me that another student had been caught with drug paraphernalia, and claimed to have received it from Joseph, and that’s why Joseph’s belongings were searched.
Mr. Rolph began to lecture me. “We here at the school know who your kid runs with, and good kids get in trouble when they hang out with the wrong kids. I’m a father, too.” I remember the words because I thought “runs with” was an odd phrase, and it rang in my head. If he knew who my kid “runs with,” he would know how surreal this visit has been for me. What is he talking about?
The credit card shaped tool that Joseph had forgotten was in his bag is not a weapon, but a hobby knife; a tool. It is not even as dangerous as a traditional box cutter with a fixed blade. Its “blade” is shorter than my pinky and is designed to cut pieces of tape, paper, string, and bubble wrap.
This “knife” is the exact opposite of a weapon. If Joseph did have the intent to scare or injure a student, it would be a terrible choice. First, this is a two-handed opening blade. That means the user cannot take this tool out of his or her pocket and flip out the blade to use like an assisted-opening knife (e.g., a switchblade). The user must first turn the safety switch to release the blade, fold back both plastic corners, lock the parts of the handles in place, then switch his grip to his dominant hand. Most importantly, this knife has NO LOCKING MECHANISM ON THE BLADE, which means the construction will collapse if heavy force is attempted, making the blade more dangerous to the user than to an intended victim.
The prohibition in the Student Code against “dangerous instruments” and “deadly weapons” is so vague as to be almost meaningless. Can Joseph bring a pen to school? A pen is a very “dangerous instrument.” Much more dangerous instruments — like scissors — are among the items that the Brandywine School District REQUIRES that its FIRST GRADERS bring to school with them.
Scissors are a much more dangerous instrument then this flimsy tool. If nothing else, I think the scissors requirement makes it understandable that Joseph was not more careful to make sure his credit card tool was not in his bag of personal possessions, and that an explanation and a warning were in order, rather than the five day suspension and the police notification. If this item is prohibited, the district should do a better job of educating students and parents. Like telling us.
What does the police report say? We do not know. We have not seen it. Does Joseph have a record now? We do not know. Did Joseph commit a misdemeanor? We do not know. No one from the police has contacted us yet, but the school telling me that the police were notified and that we should expect to be contacted by them forced me to hire a lawyer to protect my son from any potential charge that could result, and to be in the room if Joseph must talk to them.
Before leaving Mr. Rolph’s office, I asked him if there was any way to appeal his decision. He said that indeed, I had one business day to submit such an appeal to Principal Simmons. So Joseph and I got to work, and we learned a great deal.
Personal possessions like a book bag are different from a student’s locker. The locker belongs to the school, and can be searched at any time. But public high schools are allowed to search students’ personal possessions only when "reasonable suspicion” exists, as is recognized and stated in the Brandywine School District’s Student Code of Conduct. The Supreme Court held that "reasonable suspicion is satisfied when two conditions exist: the search is justified at its inception, and the search is reasonably related in scope to the circumstances that justified the search" (New Jersey v. T.L.O., 1985). This search was not justified at its inception.
While you do not need a search warrant or probable cause in schools, you DO need to reach the threshold of “reasonable suspicion,” and on this matter, the Court has explained that, for example, an anonymous phone call advising an administrator that a student will be bringing drugs to school, COUPLED WITH THE STUDENT’S REPUTATION AS A DRUG DEALER, creates reasonable suspicion to search the student's pockets and book bag (State of New Hampshire v. Drake, 1995). Four students huddled together, one with money in his hand and another moving something around in his pocket, does NOT provide reasonable suspicion to search the students for marijuana (A.S. v. State of Florida, 1997), and that the odor of marijuana in the hall does NOT provide reasonable suspicion to search all students' book bags, purses, and pockets (Burnham v. West, 1987).
Mr. Simmons never responded to our appeal. Instead, we received the rejection from the school district’s attorney. We learned only when we received this rejection of our appeal that Joseph’s search is now attributed not to his having been accused by another student as Mr. Rolph had told us, but instead because Mr. Rolph mistook Joseph for someone else. No one had ever accused my son of anything. Mr. Rolph was looking for some other student, and inexplicably asked for Joseph instead. We find it extraordinary that Mr. Rolph would be so careless as not to know either the actual student or the “mistaken” student in his own school, then search a student’s bag, and all without so much as informing the student what was going on or the reason for the search.
We cannot rule out the possibility that Joseph was targeted by the administration the moment the administration had a pretext for doing so because of Joseph’s and his family’s past whistleblowing efforts regarding a troubling science teacher and the bullying of other students by school staff in an extra-curricular activity.
That is, we do not know and have no reason to be confident that the search was justified even had it been conducted on the right student — that other student’s rights may well have been violated as well. But it was conducted on the wrong student altogether. Who is this other student Mr. Rolph was actually seeking and do we know if his rights were similarly violated? How do we even know that there was such a student?
No matter — our appeal which we were given one business day to submit, and which we wrote when we did not even know that the search was based on a mistaken identity rather than a false accusation, was rejected. The administrator haphazardly subjecting students to unjustified searches will not be reprimanded. To the extent policies exist in the school, they will remain unchanged. Better training for administrators? Forget about it.
The damages my child has already suffered include missed academic opportunities, diminished academic performance, and a substantially weakened college application in this, his most important academic year, all resulting in reduced lifetime earnings. Even his SAT score will be less than it could have been, as he has been prohibited from attending the SAT preparatory classes.
Rather than a warning never to bring this tool to school again, Joseph was given this incident description on his disciplinary record to be seen by colleges, graduate programs, and who knows who else: “WO: 1457 Knife/Poss. Safe School & Rec. Zone.”
Because of the suspension, Joseph is barred from the Blue Hen Championship Swim Conference on Saturday, the most important season-ending meet, in which Joseph would have qualified for the state championship. He has also been barred from the first week of baseball, for which Joseph is Brandywine’s starting varsity second baseman.
Because of the suspension, Joseph was prohibited from participating in the DECA competition today in Dover for which Joseph and his partner, a classmate, had been preparing for the last five months. The top three presenters in each category of the competition get a trip to Orlando in order to attend the national competition and qualify for other scholarships. And tonight, we learned that Joseph’s partner, forced to attend the competition alone, pulled it off. Joseph’s partner is going to Orlando! Alone.
Of course Joseph is excited for his partner. And of course Joseph knows that we can add a trip to Orlando and a chance at even more rewards among the long list of things an arrogant administration has taken from him after five months of his hard work because of the school’s cavalier, uncaring, and callous conduct.
There was no reasonable suspicion to subject my son to a general search which turned into an unlawful fishing expedition when the drug paraphernalia he was suspected of having was not found — and all without ever informing Joseph of which school rule he had allegedly violated, either before or even after the search! Joseph has never touched marijuana, and has never been involved in anything related to marijuana or any other illicit drug. Nor did Joseph ever knowingly bring a weapon to school — this finding must not stand.
What if Joseph had been the “right” student, the one for whom Mr. Rolph was actually looking? He would have had no ability to present his response to a wild claim before Mr. Rolph rifled through his personal belongings on an unlawful fishing expedition to find “something” — anything! — which the school can hang its hat on, using the impossibly vague Code of Student Conduct with which most any behavior or item can be alleged to violate. We see no safeguards in place at the school; nothing to stop an overbearing administrator or group of administrators from trampling upon the Constitution they are entrusted to be teaching their students!
The Supreme Court has held that, at the absolute minimum, students in school disciplinary cases are entitled to have notice of the charges against them, a disclosure or explanation of the evidence behind the charges, and an opportunity to contest this evidence. The Court established these minimal requirements in Goss v. Lopez (1975). The Court held that the students had constitutional rights protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Joseph was never given oral or written notice of the charges against him — not before the illegal search, that is. How dare they.
The Delaware ACLU has already offered their help for which we are most grateful. We are also communicating with the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm well known taking on these David versus Goliath civil liberties cases. We want only to clear the good name and reputation of our son and for the school to correct the policies and procedures that led to this gross wrong. We are hoping that the school will reconsider its intransigence and end this family’s nightmare without litigation.
Brandywine High School took advantage of a 16 year old innocent Honor Student who has done nothing but pursue his education and represent his school with distinction and rifled through his book bag without so much as telling him why. Thankfully, this particular student has parents with sufficient resources to fight back. What if it was some other student lacking that same support? Indeed, how many other such students have there been over the years and how many will there continue to be if we don’t speak up? The moment you turn your back, you’re involved.
Brandywine High School has countless problems. My son is not one of them. Why does the school insist on sabotaging the hopes and dreams of one of its best and brightest innocents with this horrific scarlet letter that will follow him for life instead of doing the right thing and overturning this shameful travesty of justice and clearing his name and record? If you can vouch for Joseph’s character, if you can express how you feel about his treatment, if you know someone who might have information helpful to our cause, or if you simply can help get the word out about his plight by forwarding this information and telling your friends and colleagues, we would be forever appreciative.
Patrick Wahl, DMD, MBA
Wilmington, Delaware
Cell (302) 229-9520
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