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Education

Odyssey Charter School placed on probation

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Delaware Public Media
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Odyssey Charter School is now on probation and must comply with multiple conditions to keep its charter.

The Delaware State Board of Education unanimously approved Education Secretary Susan Bunting’s decision Thursday to put Odyssey on probation.

Odyssey was under formal review in May for complaints of misuse of state funds, conflicts of interest and self-dealing.

The probation runs through June 30 of next year. Among the conditions placed on the school is a requirement that the majority of school board members not be members of the American Hellenic Progressive Educational Association (AHEPA) or related groups.

Odyssey School Board President Josiah Wolcott said a compliance committee will analyze the non-AHEPA board mandate and make recommendations to the board.

“The board will have, like I said, a robust discussion about it," he said. "And we’re going to do what’s in the best interest of the school moving forward. Not AHEPA, but for the school. That’s what the board has to do.”

But State Board of Education Vice President Audrey Noble said they’ll be closely watching its compliance as the school’s charter is up for renewal this fall.

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Credit Sarah Mueller / Delaware Public Media
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Delaware Public Media
The Delaware State Board of Education votes on Odyssey Charter School recommendations.

“They’re probably going to have to stay on probation regardless of whether their charter is renewed or not, they’ll have to stay on probation until they’ve met all of the conditions," she said. "What we’re hoping is all of those conditions are met before that end date.”

Odyssey Board Member Tami Soltow, who is non-AHEPA, said she hopes the board will abide by Bunting's decision to bar an AHEPA majority on the school board because DOE could decide not to renew the school's charter.

Probation conditions also include an investigatory audit of Odyssey to be completed by the end of the year.  The scope of that audit will be determined by the Dept. Of Education and the State Auditor's office, with Odyssey footing the bill.  The firm conducting the audit must be independent of the one that handles the school's annual audit.

Odyssey is also expected to recover just under $92,000 of school funds spent on efforts to launch a now dormant AHEPA early learning center and nearly $1,600 used for an AHEPA conference in Atlantic City.

Representatives of the Odyssey school board are also required to meet with Dept. of Education representatives at least once a month to discuss and evalute progress toward meeting the conditions laid out as part of the probation and sent jointly written reports to Education Sec. Susan Bunting and the State Board of Education.

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