Here are some well known facts about The Charter School of Wilmington, some taken from their very own website!
The founding companies behind CSW are DuPont, Ashland (Hercules), AstraZeneca, Christiana Care, Delmarva Power, and Verizon.
CSW has a whopping .6% of their student population with special education.
CSW was named a 2013 National Blue Ribbon School by the US Department of Education.
This Wilmington, Delaware school had an African-American population of 5.5% for the 2013-2014 academic year.
CSW was ranked #62 on Newsweek’s 2013 list of best schools in America.
For their monthly Board of Directors minutes, nothing has been put on their website since 3/25/14.
They haven’t updated their finances since 3/25/14 either….
For their federal aid, it doesn’t break it down into subgroups on that financial statement, so there is no way to find out how much they get from the federal government for IDEA-B funding, which is the funding schools get based on their number of IEPs. But wait, I’ll look at their 2013 Audit. Maybe that will give me some more information! Nope, just shows the amount of federal funding left over after the 2012-2013 school year to be $45, 174.00. So how much does Charter School of Wilmington get for their Federal IDEA-B funding? Someone had to have paid for those 6 special ed students from the 2013-2014 school year. 6 out of 970….
Before the charter school lovers go nuts, yes, I know, this is a STEM school. One of the best in the country. I guess special ed kids aren’t good at math or science?
Let’s take a look at their application process. Maybe there is a good reason why special ed kids don’t make it into this prestigious school. I would talk to their admissions panel, but as per the CSW website that information is CONFIDENTIAL. So how do you get in? As an 8th grader, you have to take a placement test in December or January. That sounds fair. I guess only the best get in. Wait a minute, nobody would know that, because their INTEREST RUBRIC SCORES for the tests, which include test scores, an essay, and a recommendation form, are CONFIDENTIAL too. And their admission scoring is proprietary. And if you wanted to find out what your child scored on the test, apparently that scoring won’t be shared by anyone in phone or in person. Well I should just stop looking at the frequently asked questions tab and go straight to the admissions policy.
Top priority goes to students who express a specific interest in going to CSW. This is measured on a point scale. 198 points is calculated based on their placement test, which covers math and reading. The applicants report card grades for 7th and 8th grade carry a weight of up to 120 points. Another maximum of 65 points can be awarded to a student who excels in teacher recommendations, enrollment in honors classes for Math or Science, extracurricular activities in Math or Science, and an essay the applicant gets to write. If you get 325 points, you meet the requirements for the specific interest. Great!
Now if you get less than 325 points, don’t lose hope! Cause you can request an interview with the school. You could have an “otherwise compelling eligibility” and the President of the School can consider ANY additional information about you to make a decision! You also have to reside in the Red Clay School District. And you can get extra consideration if you have a brother or sister that goes there, or one of your parents works there!
Well, let me take a look at the actual application and see what it says on there. Oh wait, I missed the boat! The 2014-2015 application closed on January 8th of this year. Oh well. Maybe I can google it. Awesome, the Delaware DOE website has it! But it’s from 1996….but I can check that out. Dammit! That’s their application to become a charter school. I can’t find it anywhere online. Does anyone know if it asks if the student has an IEP or special education?
With their preferred interest test, does anyone know if they accommodate students who do have an IEP when they take the test? Hmm…. Sorry folks, I tried to get more information on special education at Charter School of Wilmington, but it appears my well has run dry. But I won’t give up!
CSWStudent just wrote a comment on the CSW story that really showed me a different picture of the school:
Some important things that this article ignores.
Firstly, the description of the distribution of ethnicity at Charter vs. the demographic of Wilmington, DE. The Charter School of Wilmington conducts its admittance based on an entrance exam. This exam is open to everyone, including the entire eight grade population of Wilmington. As a current student at CSW, it is to the best of my knowledge that there is a very slim number of the city of Wilmington residents that even apply to the school. This could likely be because students in the city may not feel like they have received an education that adequately prepares them for the rigor of CSW, which presents a new problem entirely. The education of Wilmington during the middle school years needs to be boosted and improved to a level where the students from that demographic can excel in the environment that CSW supports.
CSW is not a school for everyone. What makes it so special to me is the drive and motivation that every student there possesses. I am one of four kids from my middle school that was accepted at CSW. We applied, were accepted, and excel because we take the extra step, we attend seminars, we do extracurriculars. It has nothing to do with discrimination. If you meet the standards of the school, you have as good a chance as ANYONE else to get in.
Similar to the student in this article, I am not the general mold that you describe. I live out of the Red Clay School District, I don’t “comb my hair to the side”, and I take the bus every day as a senior (I would love a pick-up truck). I know the student who this article is mentioning, and I disagree in describing him as a minority who doesn’t fit in. I personally like him, and he has always been a popular, well known member of the community.
I love the Charter School of Wilmington. It has presented me with varying challenges that push my boundaries, and I have used the opportunities presented to me to push myself and learn all that I can. Articles like this slander the name and reputation of a school that provides an incredible environment for exceptional and unique students. I have never once seen any form of discrimination, and personally am upset by these accusations.
To which I responded:
Thank you for your comments CSW student. I think your comments do more to prove my point about selective student enrollment than anything I could have ever written. I never said the student didn’t fit in. CSW should be a school for everyone. I attended an Enrollment Preference Task Force meeting discussing the very idea of placement tests as a method of enrollment. It was overwhelmingly agreed by all but 2-3 people on this task force of about 20 members, that any placement test should be given AFTER a student was accepted. You wrote “this article slanders a school that provides an incredible environment for exceptional and unique students”. Would you like to know who else has exceptional and unique students? The rest of Delaware. In fact, the term “exceptional” in Delaware typically means students with disabilities, of which CSW has .2% of their students on an IEP. The discrimination happens before a student ever gets through the door there. By picking these “exceptional and unique students” the discrimination has already been committed.
Furthermore, your comments show exactly why CSW has the “reputation” it does as an outstanding school. Which is causing me to rethink some things. This article proves CSW may keep certain people out of the school but they can’t keep everyday problems out of the school. But they sure can do their best to cover it up to make everything look pretty on the outside. You have inspired me for my next article. Thank you.
I posted earlier today about a fact that was not given to me until after I posted my article on Sunday. In examining this fact, it may not be the overall “smoking gun” it appears to be. There are still several questions about due process on the school’s part that have not been answered to my satisfaction. So I will challenge the Charter School of Wilmington to reach out to me to present those facts. Because here’s the bottom line: no matter what evidence the school thinks they had, did they follow state code and law in determining guilt or innocence? Was their coercion involved? Why did they not notify the police right away? Why did the police wait 23 days to make an arrest which just happened to be the student’s 18th birthday? Where is the paperwork involved with this incident? Can the school provide any of this paperwork? Why did they wait so long to report it to the DOE when state law says they have to submit it within two business days? Would they have reported it had the mother not already called the DOE and found out there was NO reporting of the incident? Did the school make their “deal” of suspension with services and no walking at graduation or expulsion to all four of the students involved? Can they legally make “deals” like that? How many “deals” have they performed without public knowledge? Are they aware this greatly affects public impressions of their school by skewing the data involved when parents seek out schools for their children? Did they follow state law for search and seizure? Were they allowed to search through a student’s cell phone and open up apps? Was there involvement by the Board of Directors during any of this process?
I’ve received many comments from folks who I believe to have strong ties with Charter School of Wilmington. They are all anonymous. They have asked me to prove one case of discrimination against the school. Look at their demographics. It may be legal in Delaware, but don’t think it doesn’t spit in the face of every single Title I, IDEA and civil rights law in the country. This is a charter school pretending to be a private school, and Delaware has allowed this for seventeen years. We can all sit here and pretend they are the best school in the state, but let’s not forget how they got there.
As for Bill and his mother, were mistakes made, yes. I even made some mistakes with this story. But when does one story become bigger than the individuals involved and the heart of it becomes a systemic issue within the school? In my opinion, if the school is concealing information with regards to incidents happening there, then they are allowing these incidents to happen in the first place. And then they want to complain when one mother wants to stand up and fight this system? In my eyes, no matter what Bill did, concealing incidents at a school and giving students and parents a “Sophie’s Choice” with discipline is manipulative and deceitful. Is it to protect the students or is it to cover their own ass?
**Updated**5/20/15, 10:13pm: I do not expect CSW to provide documentation to me concerning this incident. What I do hope to see is this issue seeing the light of day in regards to due process, and as a result of that, this documentation would be seen by someone who would be able to render a legal decision on due process in this case.