Red Clay Super’s Message Regarding The Priority Schools’ MOU

Filed in Delaware by on September 30, 2014

Can anyone help decipher this?

From Dr. Daugherty

On September 4, the Delaware State Department of Education announced three Red Clay Consolidated School District elementary schools (Highlands, Shortlidge and Warner) would be designated as Priority Schools. The last few weeks have brought questions, concerns, excitement and apprehension from many in the schools, community and state. The district has spent a great deal of time to understand the proposed MOU and the turnaround guide provided by the DDOE and the implications for students, families and staff.

The Priority School designation provides an opportunity for additional resources to drive improvement in our schools, however it also presents challenges as we work through the development of each school’s plan.  Please be aware that the MOU and the planning process are not the same. The MOU is an agreement to collaborate during the planning process. Once approved by the school board, RCEA and myself, the MOU will be sent to the Delaware Secretary of Education for approval. After this approval, all parties will begin the work to develop the school plan. School staff, administrators, parents and community members will work together to create a plan for student success. I believe we have a template for success and understand that each school’s plan will be unique. One plan does not fit all schools.

As we work through this process, it is critical to recognize the staff and tremendous work that is already happening each day in these three schools.

Many remember that several years ago Red Clay had three schools designated as part of the State’s Partnership Zone initiative. Red Clay learned many lessons through the Partnership Zone process with the most important lesson being that when our parents, teachers and administrators work in a collaborative and purposeful manner, we can increase achievement. We are proud to say that Lewis, Marbrook and Stanton all met the state targets and were removed from the PZ list as successful schools.

In the coming months, we will continue to partner with parents, RCEA, local leaders and the Delaware Department of Education to develop a plan that will move the academic achievement of our students to greater levels. The success of our students depends on the willingness to work together for a common cause: children and their future. I do not believe the answer to this situation rests on charter schools or nonprofit agencies operating these schools. If there was an easy solution, this problem would not be a national issue. We have the ability and the track record to meet these challenges.

Children First,

“Please be aware that the MOU and the planning process are not the same. The MOU is an agreement to collaborate during the planning process.”

So… is Merv saying that the MOU is simply an invitation to get-together and chat?  That nothing in it is binding?  It’s just a “Hey, could you RSVP so we can set up a time to come up with a plan that doesn’t exist – just ignore all that talk in the MOU about the school leaders’ salaries and teachers having to reapply for their jobs, etc. because none of that means anything.”

Question… the 9/30 due date is today – there’s a workshop scheduled tonight. Can the board vote at a workshop? If not, what happens if the deadline isn’t met?

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A stay-at-home mom with an obsession for National politics.

Comments (8)

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  1. Steve Newton says:

    Red Clay has rejected the State MOU, and has said that an MOU must be negotiated between the State and Red Clay. Merv has further said that in order for Red Clay to present a draft of an MOU to the State for negotiation, the Superintendent, the Board, AND RCEA must all agree to the wording in Red Clay’s draft. The board is holding a workshop tonight; it cannot vote. The earliest that the board will vote is October 15. What Merv is also saying here is that no planning process for these three schools will begin until after there is an agreed-upon MOU.

    DOE now has to decide whether to wait for the Red Clay version to come back to them or try to pressure the district into signing the original dictated MOU. Since Merv has formally said he won’t sign without Board and RCEA approval, the earliest that could happen is Oct 15. From what I understand, Christina’s Board is going to do something similar.

    This is pretty damn close to the two districts poking a stick in the eye of DOE with the language flowery enough for DOE to back down while still declaring victory. I realize that a lot of people would like a more dramatic resistance, but functionally this is a flat refusal to go along with the process on the original terms DOE set out.

    And there is some cover here, because Kim Williams has asked for the AG’s opinion on the legality of an MOU drafted entirely by DOE without district involvement.

  2. mediawatch says:

    If Red Clay and Christina take the action Steve anticipates, can’t see how DOE can declare victory. Sort of like the Brits saying they won the War of 1812 because they didn’t lose Canada.
    Don’t see the point of Kim Williams’ request for an AG’s opinion. Seems like anyone can draft an MOU. Ultimately, all that matters is whether it is signed. Until there are signatures, its just paper.
    As I try to pierce the rhetorical fog, what is clear is that Merv is saying that this won’t work unless we’re all on the same page from the get-go. Implicitly, Red Clay will not be accepting the directives within the DOE-drafted MOU and manual. Rather, those principles will become the basis for developing plans for each participating school. Ergo, if DOE does not accept these premises, the deal is off.
    Steve seems to be suggesting that DOE will go along at this time, and I tend to agree. If the local boards continue to balk, DOE could try to take them to the mat legally, but the ensuing battle would be so bloody and protracted that this initiative might as well be declared DOA. Far better for DOE to continue to negotiate with the districts and reach a mutually agreeable accommodation on how to move forward.
    But don’t be surprised if the back and forth results in delays that make it unreasonable to expect implementation on the schedule Markell and Murphy would like. And, if it does get pushed back, this becomes a high-risk, low-reward priority for the gov in the final year of his second term.
    So maybe the districts do have an end game that will kill this plan.

  3. Steve Newton says:


    For clarification, the reason Kim Williams’ act is significant is that she pointed out a clause in the statute about priority schools that says that the MOU has to be jointly developed by DOE and the districts. DOE has admitted in writing in several places that the districts were not consulted in the drafting of the original MOU. While I doubt that the AG will actually rule on this, what it does do is put DOE on notice if it tries legal action that everything will not go its way, because DOE itself did not follow the law.

  4. mediawatch says:

    Thanks, Steve. So Kim isn’t necessarily expecting an answer, but she is also giving DOE a well deserved poke in the eye.

  5. Joanne Christian says:

    Shorter version–you’re getting engaged, Bridezilla is allowing input this time from Groom and attendants. Agreed upon terms are taken to clueless Dad-father of Bridezilla for final sign-off of payment and terms.

    Instead of–you’re getting married. Reasonable Bride says to Mature Groom–hey, why are we renting a limo when it’s all flash for a few minutes, and we can put that money on real food at the wedding, or not have to have your cousin Arlo mix our jam? We can hire a real,professional DJ? Agreed upon arrangements taken to Dad for approval, who says WTF do I care? You’re only getting a flat $$$ out of me regardless, so I’d suggest you’d spend it wisely!!!

  6. Dave says:

    “MOU has to be jointly developed by DOE and the districts.”

    The statute does not say “thou shalt begin with a blank piece of paper.” MOUs are typically developed with someone putting a strawman on the table. Blank paper is rarely, if ever, the starting point. If, and only, there is no further involvement of the parties in developing the final MOU is there any basis for legal action.

  7. Jason330 says:

    …or not have to have your cousin Arlo mix our jam?

    LOL. You kill me.

  8. pandora says:

    Second the LOL! Joanne always sums it up perfectly.