Del. Deval Patrick to use $250 million to help Delaware fund college fund
By MICHAEL P. GRAHAMAAP and TIMOTHY P. COHENMAN, Associated PressWASHINGTON — Del.
Eric T. Delaney will use a $250,000 trust fund to help fund college scholarships and grants at a school in his district, the state Education Department said Wednesday.
Delaney’s district, Rockbridge, has about 300 students, including about 400 students at two colleges.
He is also running for Congress in the state’s 4th Congressional District.
The department’s website lists the school as The Rockbridge High School, which is owned by the Rockbridge Elementary School.
Delany’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Delaware has been under a federal civil rights investigation into allegations of racial discrimination.
The state Education department has asked that a court seal be released on the matter, citing a court order.
The agency did not say how long the order is in effect.
Delays are expected in the department’s response to the civil rights lawsuit.
The department has not yet released any details about the trust fund.
Delany’s attorney, Paul A. Schuster, said in a statement that Delaney’s plan “is entirely consistent with the state education department’s commitment to ensuring that all Delawareans receive a fair opportunity to attend and thrive in the United States of America.”
Delaney, a Republican, has been a frequent critic of the state Department of Education and its relationship with schools, particularly the Rockford Independent School District, where he was a principal for four years.
The district has been sued more than 30 times since 2011.
A number of Rockford school districts have filed complaints with the department in recent years, but the district has filed only one lawsuit so far, against Delaney, according to a lawsuit filed in July by the group Common Cause Delaware.
In his statement, Schuster said that the department would be taking steps to “restructure its relationships with school districts, which in turn will improve our ability to serve students and families, including those who are disproportionately underrepresented in our state government.”
In the lawsuit, Common Cause said the department has been slow to respond to complaints from parents of students who have been placed at Rockford, a district where about one in 10 students live in poverty.
It said the agency has made little progress to address the problem.
A state audit last year found that Rockford had a “lack of accountability and transparency” in its school system, but it found the district’s failure to implement a plan to improve the school’s financial condition had not led to widespread problems.
In May, Rockford agreed to change its financial position and pay a $10,000 penalty to the state, but Delaney has since sued the state and Rockford in court.
Rockford also is suing Delaney for not disclosing a conflict of interest, claiming he received millions of dollars in gifts from a developer who is also the parent of Rockbridge’s current principal, Delaney spokesman James B. Jones said in an email.