At its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday the Caesar Rodney Board of Education moved to expel a student for bringing a knife into Parkway Academy and heard a presentation regarding implementing accelerated English and math curriculum at district middle schools.

At its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday the Caesar Rodney Board of Education moved to expel a student for bringing a knife into Parkway Academy and heard a presentation regarding implementing accelerated English and math curriculum at district middle schools.


The board voted to expel the student in question with board members Kathleen Haynes, Melody Heavner, Cheryl Precourt and William Bush voting to expel the student, while board member P. Scott Wilson voting against expelling the student.

The student, who was identified as 2014-FMS-01 for privacy purposes, was originally a Fifer Middle School student when a disciplinary incident lead to the student being removed from Fifer. At that point the student went through a series of hearings, before being brought before Superintended Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald. Rather than expelling the student or return him to Fifer Fitzgerald gave the student’s parents the option of sending their child to Parkway Academy Alternative School. The student’s parents chose to accept placement in Parkway Academy, according Fitzgerald.

“The stipulation in going to Parkway academy is that the student must adhere to all rules and regulations and if they would do anything that would merit suspension or expulsion from any of our schools they would be expelled,” Fitzgerald said. “Normally students that we send to an alternative program we would send with the hope that they would be successful and most of them return to us and are successful in completing their academic program. Unfortunately, in this situation the student made a poor choice.”

Typically before a student could be expelled they would be granted a full hearing before the board of education, but when students enter Parkway Academy their parents sign a waiver stating that if their child violates the code of conduct they can be expelled without a hearing, according to Fitzgerald.

The student’s parents now have the option to appeal the board’s decision. If they chose to appeal the case will be presented for a full hearing before the board of education. If the expulsion is upheld or if the parents don’t appeal the student will be expelled from school for 180 school days, but their parents could appeal to have them returned to school.



Several months ago the board requested that the department of instruction begin looking at the possibility of implementing advanced classes at the middle school level. A committee was formed and began looking into the feasibility of providing accelerated math and English language arts curriculum.

After holding committee meetings to iron out details, such as scheduling, creating a smooth transition for advanced students form middle to high school and teaching materials, the committee consulted with teachers and the ball is now rolling to implement a pilot of advanced courses next year, according to Corey Miklus, a supervisor of instruction with the district.

Materials for both the ELA and math classes have been selected. The materials align to the Common Core State Standards and offer online content in addition to the hard copy. For students in advance ELA classes it’s about pumping up the rigor, said Nelle Cox, an English teacher at Dover Air Base Middle.

“Students taking advanced classes will move at a faster pace and will be doing more writing,” she said. “New materials will allow teachers of advanced classes to offer additional performance tasks and some timed writing.”

Some pre-AP elements will be woven into the classes as well so that students can make a smooth transition into the high school, Cox said.  The math curriculum will focus more on word based problems. What was once taught in either grade will be taught to advanced seventh graders and eighth graders will study algebra one.

“We’re not just making it harder,” said Christine Alois, a supervisor of instruction for the district. “We’re looking at very specific strategies that are going to help to prepare the students to be successful when they get into AP classes.”

Making sure that advanced students don’t fall through the cracks because they will be accelerating while also adjusting to the new Common Core State Standards is a priority, said Manette Dupras, an achievement liaison teacher at Dover Air Base Middle.

“Some of our concerns are that, because children will be children that were caught in the middle of the change in standards, that we’ve addressed any gaps that they might have,” Dupras said. “So we’re going to make sure that when we go through that seventh and eighth grade advanced curriculum that we make sure our kids are comfortable and have the background knowledge that they have to have.”

Not all of the details of implementing the new programs have been finalized. In May teachers will meet to map out how the new program will unfold throughout the year. In June teachers will be trained how to use the new materials and throughout the summer teachers will be offered training in strategies for teaching advanced learners. Over the summer representatives from the district’s middle schools will meet and determine how students in advanced classes will be assessed. Finally parents will receive a letter over the summer explaining the program to them. Determining how students will be selected for the program is still being hammered out, according to Miklus.

“Current seventh grade teachers will be looking at data from current sixth graders, they’ll be looking at DCAS scores, and they’ll be looking at grades. In their professional learning communities teachers will be looking at particular students and talking about how a student performs and if they can handle this work,” he said. “We have so much data at our disposal we’re not sure if we have to administer assessments to students. We want to make sure we get the right students identified and put them in the right course.”