Education General Assembly

Delaware AG Denn Yawns at HB85 Opinion Request

Listen, just make all charter admissions a random lottery draw. That's all you need. No geographic gymnastics or strategic locations for your school building or buddy system preferences. Lottery. Fair to all.

CHRISTINA SCHOOL DISTRICT – 5-mile radius admissions preference repealed by HS1 to HB85.

I’m getting good at finding updates after I click publish.

UPDATE: Newsworks’ Cris Barrish does a great write up of where things stand currently.

But I take exception to this quote from Greg Meece, Newark Charter’s principal:

“If our school wasn’t so popular it wouldn’t be an issue. But it’s become a political issue because they don’t like charter schools,” Meece said.

LOL. “They’re saying mean things about us!” No. What we have a problem with is Charters behaving like private schools. You’re a PUBLIC school. Act like one. All kids in the district should be able to apply to any Charter in the district, admit by lottery. How HARD is that? ALL CHARTERS.

When I wrote Two Sides to the Same District yesterday, it was with minutes after I clicked publish that I saw several legislators and the president of Delaware’s NAACP chapter petitioned the State Attorney General’s to provide an opinion on the legality of HB85 as currently written.

Today, Attorney General Matt Denn threw his hands up and said “whoa whoa, that’s not my job” and summarily returned the issue back to the General Assembly.

State Rep. Charles Potter Jr. (D-Wilmington North) said that language specifically targets poor minorities in Downtown Wilmington since they’re the only students in a noncontiguous district.

He’s right.

But in a response Monday, Denn sidestepped the issue, saying he doesn’t provide legal guidance to individual lawmakers except in rare circumstances.

1,600 school children being discriminated against isn’t “rare” enough. Also, Delaware’s NAACP president was on that request. But, ok.

Listen, just make all charter admissions a random lottery draw. That’s all you need. No geographic gymnastics or strategic locations for your school building or buddy system preferences. Lottery. Fair to all, no matter which side of the tracks District you live on.

Back to Legislative Hall goes HB85, into the Senate.

I hope Delaware Democrats got free shipping on all the bad optics they’ve delivered to their constituents over the last several weeks. We have a $400 million budget gap after all.

4 comments on “Delaware AG Denn Yawns at HB85 Opinion Request

  1. It is fair for Denn to note that he is not the lawyer for the Legislature. But this sure doesn’t help the Dem optics this past few weeks. If I’m a parent in Christina right now, I am wondering who in this government does stand up for my kids?

    • Christina city residents/businesses should demand that Newark Charter School be excluded from receiving their taxes. Not sure how NCS could have a problem with that considering they’re okay with cutting out this population – the cutting out needs to go both ways.

  2. Legally, he is right on this. I like that he specifically said his office doesn’t agree with the 5 mile radius. I imagine someone will have to really challenge this in a big way before substantial change is made. The ACLU lawsuit from December 2014 is collecting dust at the Office of Civil Rights in Philadelphia. We need the Erin Brokovich for education to take this on. Who that is I don’t know!

  3. I have a copy of AG Denn’s letter, and while he does tell the legislators that they need to rely on other legal advice, he is pretty clear that he does not think this proposal is a good idea:

    Our office’s deference to your House attorneys and the Delaware Supreme Court in assessing the constitutionality of H.S. 1 to H.B. 85 should not be misinterpreted as an endorsement of the enrollment preferences established by the bill. The Attorney General concurs with the overwhelming majority of the members of the Enrollment Preferences Task Force who agreed with giving preference in charter school admissions to students who lived within the school district encompassing the charter, but disagreed with giving preference to students who lived within a particular geographic radius of the charter school. Whether or not the views reflected by the majority of the Enrollment Preferences Task Force have sufficient support in the General Assembly to become law is a matter for legislators to determine.

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