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Welcome to the Non-Partisan Delaware Website

Welcome to the Non-Partisan Delaware Website!

Non-Partisan Delaware is a ballot qualified political organization in Delaware. We are unique from many political organizations in that we do not have a fixed platform or policy goal. Our immediate short term goals are determined each election cycle by the NPD Governing Board through the development of an internal "Strategic Plan" and we focus on achieving those goals through public information activities, lobbying policymakers in coordination with our coalition partners, and supporting candidates for public office.

Our Strategic Plan for the 2023-2024 Election Cycle includes the following priorities:

  • Cannabis Legalization

    NPD is extremely proud that in our first year of operations, we were able to assist the Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network and the Delaware Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws to pass HB1 and HB2, legalizing personal use quantities of cannabis and creating a legal retail market.

  • Ranked Choice Voting

    NPD is coordinating with Rank the Vote Delaware to promote the study and implementation of ranked choice voting in Delaware elections.

  • Abortion, Gender & Sexual Minority, and Gun Rights

    While these issues are rarely considered together and often find little common ground between the traditional "right" and "left", NPD views all of these issues through the perspective of individual privacy and the rights of individuals to live as they choose.

  • Education, Land Use, Environment, Broadband, Criminal Justice, Other

    This catch-all refers to areas we would like to work on as opportunities arise, but have not put together a more focused and cohesive approach.

On these issues and any others, Non-Partisan Delaware hopes to provide a perspective outside the common left-vs-right paradigm based on thoughtful and thorough analysis, open but skeptical towards new information, and unconstrained by ideological dogma.

Our Board members, after years of activism, have developed a healthy skepticism of coercive, majority-imposed policies over those based on mutual consent and individual dignity. However we recognize the need for pragmatism as we seek to find ways a new and small organization on the Delaware political scene can make a positive difference!

Keep scrolling for News and Updates, or follow the links on the side bar to the right (below the newsfeed on mobile) to connect to our social media communities and get involved. We hold monthly Meet Ups in all three counties and someone is usually active on our Discord Server in between.

Join us today!

About Us:

Non-Partisan Delaware Founded!

Latest News:

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

SB2: Permit to Purchase

The following post reflects comments made to the House Judiciary Committee by NPD Legislative Analyst Aarika Nelson at the hearing on May 17th.  The hearing began at 11a and took place in the House Chamber at Leg Hall in Dover.

Ms. Nelson presented brief comments to the committee in light of the time constraints and the crowd.  This post will go into more detail on the points raised in her testimony based on an analysis of SS1 to SB2, as well as similar legislation presented in previous sessions of the General Assembly.  Ms. Nelson identified three key areas where NPD's analysis found SS1 to SB2 problematic in its explicitly written or likely interpreted implementation:

  • Cost to applicants to complete requirements;
  • Time delays to applicants in urgent need of protection; and
  • Privacy concerns rooted in SBI's explicit authorization to retain applicant PII.

To cover each item in turn:


It's worth noting that SS1 to SB2 in this General Assembly is an improvement over the legislation released from Committee in the last session.  Despite that bill being released, it was never brought to a vote, and the updates to the legislation in this session's version suggest that the concerns about the costs to applicants to meet the permitting requirements were given some consideration.

While the previous version of the bill had many of the same requirements, this version includes a voucher program to cover the full cost of the required training classes for individuals in households earning less then 200% FPL.  The downside is that this adds ~$1.72m to the fiscal note by assuming 9,800 qualified applicants and classes costing $175/ea.  This cost estimate will be inaccurate if additional applicants qualify for vouchers above what is estimated or if a shortage of classes drives the cost above the estimated $175.  There are no limitations specified in the bill itself as to what the cost of these vouchers might become, the fiscal note is based on these estimates by assuming the number of people who will qualify and the full cost of the class that is required to be covered.

The reasoning presented by the bill's opponents in the previous session, that the costs of meeting these requirements created an artificial financial obstacle to the exercise of a fundamental right.  Whether proponents found the moral or the legal justification compelling, or just the cost excessive, the bill last session was halted and the bill this session includes vouchers for the classes.

However there are still significant costs imposed on applicants for these permits.  Individuals from households earning more than 200% FPL, even if they don't actually have the ability to access those funds, will be responsible for the full price of the class, and every applicant will be fully responsible for the cost of the background checks which will be required annually even while the classes are only required every five years.

With the cost of the SBI background checks expected to increase to ~$80, the total cost of over $250 to individuals in households earning more than 200% FPL would serve to double the cost of some basic handguns, continuing to keep gun ownership out of reach for many individuals, and maintaining that particular cost even in the event a handgun is given to them as a gift or a temporary loan by a friend in recognition of a pressing need for self defense.

To address this issue, NPD suggests that the General Assembly consider amendments to address the cost for all applicants, regardless of financial status, including both the classes and the required background checks.

Not only do the background checks serve the purpose intended by this legislation, but they can also be utilized in the event an applicant is denied by some mark on their criminal background check or even has other offenses that are not disqualifying for the permit but may be eligible for pardons or expungements as well.

Encouraging the public to participate in gun safety courses could also be interpreted as an advancement of public policy goals by ensuring the broader public, even if they do not use guns regularly, are familiar with their safe basic operation and storage and how to handle one properly if they encounter it.

Covering these costs has value independently of their utility to satisfy these requirements.

The simplest way to expand the coverage for permit requirement costs with the existing bill would be to simply expand the voucher program to explicitly cover the background checks and the classes for all applicants.

Vouchers are already issued by several government programs including APEX through the Department of Labor to get background checks for clients, so the backend infrastructure for ensuring the proper budgetary controls are recognized over the funds already exists.

The bill already envisions the creation of the voucher program for the classes.

Expanding the availability is simply a matter of funding at that point.  Of course with the existing fiscal note estimating 85,000 applicants in total in its consideration of additional staffing needs, 85,000 applicants worth of vouchers and background checks will cost more than the mere 9,800 vouchers for classes alone.

Another option would be to offer the courses directly through the State.

The bill already authorizes applicants to reference classes offered by colleges and police agencies to meet their permit requirements, but the bill makes no provision for the classes to be offered by these institutions.  Even limiting their availability this option is likely to prove cheaper and more reliable in the long run.

A statute that guarantees vouchers will cover the full cost without regard for what that cost might be are likely to find the cost of classes increasing.  Private providers have little incentive to keep costs down if the State will cover it.  Anyone not eligible for vouchers will be caught up in the increasing prices or face long wait times.

Hiring as little as 14 additional FTEs to handle the classes themselves would easily cover the estimated demand with class sizes of 20 applicants/day for each day of the year providing capacity for up to 100k applicants, and a few additional employees to account for the load at SBI that is not being compensated for the background checks, and the existing estimate for additional staff on the fiscal note suggests a much lighter price tag than simply expanding the vouchers.

A cap in the bill instead, along with either of these measures, to limit the cost of meeting the requirements to some low flat rate or tied to the value of the first purchase could reimburse some of these costs while guaranteeing that even those not exempted by household income or other metrics do not face prohibitive expenses.


Whether or not one has the privilege not to worry about cost, one could always find themselves without the privilege of time.

It's worth noting at this point that a possible and even likely side effect of this legislation, as it's currently written, is that county prothonotary offices will become even more overwhelmed with CCDW permit requests.

According to several individuals in the gun community consulted by NPD, the class requirements for a CCDW are actually less demanding than the class requirements for the permit to purchase.  A CCDW permit is good for five years and can be renewed indefinitely without taking the class again.  The only other additional requirements for a CCDW are relatively trivial to accomplish and a CCDW permit is functionally equivalent to a five year permit to purchase compared to the one year permit established by this legislation.  Individuals who purchase handguns often will be more likely following this legislation to seek CCDW permits and will delay the issuance of permits to everyone, including those who may have a more pressing need for them.

This also suggests another possible cost savings option of aligning the permit to purchase requirements with the existing requirements for the CCDW permits.  The classes already exist and have been deemed sufficient to only take once, and the five year time period good enough for one might be adequate for the other.

In addition to this potential unintended consequence, passage of this legislation in its current form could potentially lead to additional obstacles to handgun ownership at a critical and needed moment in a crisis period in a person's life.

One of the more concerning issues with the specific wording of the current bill concerns the deadline for processing applications.  While the legislation requires applications to be approved within 30 days, the way the language is written leaves wide latitude on the timeline for applications that are "believed" to have a reason for denial.  The 30 day deadline only applies to sure thing approvals.  An amendment should address this point in particular by requiring all applications to be returned within 30 days and allowing the appeal process to begin at that point regardless of whether or not that requirement has been met by the State.

Even with such an amendment, the 21 days allowed for a JP Court appeal and the additional 15 days allowed for a Superior Court appeal, even discounting the 30 days and 15 days respectively provided to prepare those appeals, following the 30 days to process the application initially could result in up to an additional 66 days before a valid application that will ultimately be accepted results in an issued permit.  Recognizing the realities that at least some if not all of these requirements are critically (at least politically) important, even if they cannot be waived, an expedited and/or provisional approval process that allows requirements to be met or at least verified after a permit is issued, or some provision to begin the appeal process early, or some other option to offer a safety hatch to individuals with credible threats against their safety should be available.

An objective standard such as the existence of a PFA or a recently filed police report could fulfill the requirement, or even some kind of emergency hearing process similar to what already exists in family court for a PFA or emergency custody order if a burden of proof is met.

Even in states where statistics presented by advocates suggest a clear benefit to public safety from adopting permit to purchase requirements, outlier incidents persist where individuals threatened by abusive ex-partners, stalkers, or other menaces have been harmed and even killed waiting for the permits to be issued so they could legally acquire the means to defend themselves.

Let us please not have that happen here.


As a final issue raised in the public comments but by no means intended to serve as a final word, a specific provision in the bill would seem to be at odds with federal law that has been applied and found binding against the states preventing the establishment of a "registry".

Aside from whether or not the provision explicitly allowing the SBI to retain records on applicants with no apparent limit constitutes a "registry" or not for the purposes of a judicial review, individuals in all communities have some justification to be concerned about the privacy risks inherent in creating such a data store as well as the potential for this data to become a catalog of ex post facto coerced self-incriminations.

NPD is an organization focused primarily on Delaware law and Delaware policy.  Our familiarity and ability to analyze the retention of this information as a "registry" under the federal statutes is limited beyond raising it as a concern and trusting that people who know better know where the line is.

Regardless of whether or not the legislature can do this, the question must be asked whether or not they should.

Even with the best of intentions and giving no credibility to slippery slope arguments about future policy changes, security measures fail.  Hackers getting a ready made list of individuals known to have permits to purchase firearms and perhaps even records of valid verifications to confirm the purchases themselves would be a valuable target list for burglars or a handy exclusion list for home invaders.

NPD will not speculate that bill sponsors intend to create a registry for the explicit purpose of utilizing the information after a future policy change as a list of individuals who have, before the act they confessed to committing was a crime, incriminated themselves under duress.  While the fourth and fifth amendment implications of that case as they interact with the Article I, Section 9 prohibition against ex post facto laws might be interesting from an academic standpoint, it isn't unreasonable from a political point of view to recognize that such a case would not be pleasant for the defendant litigating it.

The easy solution is to remove the provision that allows the SBI to retain records, and instead replace it with language requiring the SBI to expunge any records upon the expiration of the permit or upon request by the applicant to expire the permit early.

Assuming that the verification process required under this version of the legislation and the revocation capabilities imagined by this version and the version in the previous session, it isn't realistic to assume that no data can be retained at all for any period of time and still meet the aims of the sponsors.

The previous version was a bit more forgiving of private sellers who might be mislead by a fake permit, only requiring them to provide a copy of the permit with which they're presented, but this version requires the verification of a "valid" permit.  The mechanism for doing so isn't clear, but the assumed method in the context of this suggestion is that the permit itself will have to be called in and verified manually with the issuer.

Even without that requirement, becoming aware of an incident rendering an applicant ineligible for an existing permit requires tracking who a permit belongs to and retaining the ability to invalidate it and contact the applicant to inform them of the new status.  This information is not needed, however, once the permit has expired or the applicant acknowledges that they have no further need of it.


To reiterate, Non-Partisan Delaware is not taking a position on whether or not this bill should pass and become law.

Our Governing Board has expressed severe reservations about the effectiveness of this bill and whether it will merely serve as an empty gesture of "doing something" in lieu of more effective actions to address the violence that occurs in this country and specifically in our State.  Even greater concern, however, was addressed towards the unintended consequences that our analysis has identified as potentially resulting from this bill due not to its nature, but due to the specific details of its implementation that we hope we have been able to suggest fixes for that are faithful to the original intent of the bill's authors and sponsors.

We are willing and eager to work with the bills sponsors on friendly amendments, but will also work on less friendly amendments if necessary.  Any amendments offered or supported by us from whatever legislative source will still be intended by us in good faith to ensure that whether this legislation will be helpful or not, in recognition of the belief among many of our friends and allies that it will, our sincere hope is only to mitigate what we see as the potential for harm.

Thank you.

Will McVay,
Legislative Analyst,
Non-Partisan Delaware.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Leo Darmstadter III

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(Source: emailed from candidate)

The following response was sent to our survey:

  1. Why are you running for School Board?

To ensure our students are getting the best education possible. Delaware is one of the leaders in spending per student in the country but our test scores in core subjects do not reflect our spending. Delaware DOE needs to give more control back to local school boards in order to reach higher standards. If elected, I would like to see more community involvement (teachers, students, community members) at school board meetings. I want the community to feel empowered to speak about their concerns and community accomplishments. I would also like to make sure our student code of conduct is followed and disciplinary actions are consistent throughout the district. Finally, we need to make sure the district remains transparent in all financial matters.

  1. What personal connections do you have to your local school district and community?

I have been a member of the Georgetown/Millsboro community for 15 years. My wife was born and raised in Georgetown.  Our 3 children currently attend district schools.  We have a senior and a sophomore at Sussex Central and a first grader at East Millsboro Elementary. I previously served on the IRSD School Board in 2020-2021. I have coached girls basketball in the district for past 5 years (Georgetown Middle & Sussex Central). I have volunteered with the Georgetown Little League for over a decade. I served on the Board of Trustees at Wesley United Methodist Church. I have chaperoned countless district field trips over the past 13 years. 

  1. How should district policy balance student privacy against parental rights?

There should not be a balance. Parental rights should supersede any district policy as it pertains to their children. Parents should be raising their children not policies generated by the school district. If a child is in danger, school personnel have a duty to report, not necessarily to investigate themselves. Our children deserve to be safe, and we as parents need to be kept in the know.

  1. What should be the district’s approach to overseeing curriculum, reading material, and lesson planning in the classrooms?

The curriculum is strongly controlled by the DOE. This is an ideal situation for a subcommittee of parents and community members to come together to review and weigh in on the material. I think as a school board it is important for board members to be present during curriculum meetings, from experience that is not always the case. I think it is important to ensure our social studies / history classes are giving accurate depictions of events. The board must rely on the experts in curriculum development and lesson planning. The board has the responsibility to ask questions of these experts and strike up conversations that can lead to more common sense solutions to these topics.

  1. How well do you feel that your district currently serves students who are gifted, learning disabled, or who have other special needs? What policies does your district follow that should be improved, or adopted more widely?

It is evident by our test results that we are under serving our entire student population. We do offer a multitude of Advanced Placement classes and participate in the International Baccalaureate program for our gifted high school students. Our Spanish Immersion program has proven to be a good addition to our district offerings. Admittedly i am not well versed in the areas of students with special needs or learning disabilities. However, I have spoken to parents who say this area is difficult to navigate and find the necessary services. I believe our staff does as best as they can do considering all the challenges they face Our district should strive to make sure all students needs are met.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

YF Lou - Christina E

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(Source: emailed from candidate)

The following response was sent to our survey.  It has been edited to include the questions for clarity:
Sorry for the delay, 

1. Why are you running for School Board?

1. I am running for school board because I believe that education is the great equalizer in society. As a product of Delaware public schools myself from Cape Henlopen (C-High!), I know firsthand the power of education to transform lives. I am committed to ensuring that all students have access to a quality education, regardless of their background. I will work to make our schools more equitable and inclusive, and I will ensure that all students have the opportunity to succeed.

2.  What personal connections do you have to your local school district and community?

2. I am a volunteer in the Newark Fire Department, a former Big Brother at Stubbs Elementary, and a licensed realtor. I have children who are currently enrolled in the Christina School District, and I understand the concerns that potential parents have about the district.

3. How should district policy balance student privacy against parental rights?

3. Our school policies are part of a living document that needs to be nurtured to reflect our diverse communities. To strike the proper balance, we must continue to ask ourselves whether it is safe? Is it lawful? Does it respect the families, the educator/staff, and the community? A single misunderstanding could easily cascade into a catastrophic event. We must work hard to improve trust and understanding amongst stakeholders.

4.  What should be the district’s approach to overseeing curriculum, reading material, and lesson planning in the classrooms?

4. The district should make every effort to foster a safe and welcoming environment for all students and families. This includes being transparent about policies and procedures, showing empathy for all students, and ensuring that all students have access to the information they need. Additionally, the district should work with schools to design curriculum that reflects the rich and diverse backgrounds of the student body.

5. How well do you feel that your district currently serves students who are gifted, learning disabled, or who have other special needs? What policies does your district follow that should be improved, or adopted more widely?

5. Speaking as a parent of a child that receives special education services, I believe that the Christina School District does an exemplary job of serving students with special needs. The district has a variety of programs and services in place to support students with different learning styles and abilities. For example, the district has a gifted and talented program, a special education program, and the school for the Deaf.

However, the nationwide challenge with a literacy issue in American primary and secondary schools that was exacerbated by the pandemic has negatively impacted many students, especially those with special needs and socio-economic challenges. We definitely have a lot of opportunities to close that achievement gap.


Yunfei Lou (he/him/his)

2023 Candidate, Christina School District Nominating district E


Website: What can Y.F. Lou do for you? (yflou4csd.org)

Email: lou4schoolboard@gmail.com

Facebook: (1) Lou for Christina School District | Facebook

To Donate: https://paypal.me/lou4CSD?country.x=US&locale.x=en_US

Cell: 302-722-5193

Carlucci Coelho - Red Clay D

<<< Back to School Board Main Page.

The following response was sent to our survey.  The questions have been edited in between responses for clarity.

I apologize for my late response, some email issues occurred and they are now resolved now.

1. Why are you running for School Board?

1- I am running for office to be an advocate for children in our schools today who lag behind, who are bullied or are subject to violence and to help create a positive learning environment in our schools for all students.

2.  What personal connections do you have to your local school district and community?

2- I have developed friendships and connections with many teachers and school personnel, parents and students of the Red Clay School District, for the last thirty plus years ,I have become close to some of them. They have brought to my attention many issues and concerns in the Red Clay School DistrictI throughout the years and I have been a good listener, always trying different approaches to help out the community for a good outcome . Now I must be the voice for those who are not being heard.

3. How should district policy balance student privacy against parental rights?

3- Schools should be careful not to interfere with or break down the parent child relationship as it relates to their education and their life. That relationship should be primary in the child's life. Providing transparency can give a parent the ability to better support and endorse the students' efforts with academics, sports and social interaction at the school.

4.  What should be the district’s approach to overseeing curriculum, reading material, and lesson planning in the classrooms? 

4- Assuring better transparency for parents into their child's learning, both the curriculum and the environment; to promote vocational education in all schools; to assure our schools are safe for students and teachers, and to return our focus to the primary purpose of education - academics.

5. How well do you feel that your district currently serves students who are gifted, learning disabled, or who have other special needs? What policies does your district follow that should be improved, or adopted more widely? 

5- I feel that the district must do better to serve the needs of these children especially when it comes to their safety and the district must act now with strong policies on stopping the bullying to those students who are gifted, learning disabled, or who have other special needs, including other children who are in school because they want to learn and grow. 
Give them the environment to better suit their special needs for good education. Better and new ways of educating those who need more from our schools to have a chance at life, a chance at education. We need the policies to be for all children and parents, not just for one specific group. Districts should adopt more transparency for parents into their child education.

Danielle Deinert - Milford

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(Source: emailed from candidate)

The following response was sent to our survey: 

  1. Why are you running for School Board?

During my career in education I had the opportunity to see education from many lenses.  I have ridden school buses with kids, had tough conversations with parents around discipline, and taught classes with kids that are well above and below grade level. As a parent I have seen first hand what school looks and feels like through the eyes of my children.  When the opportunity arose to run for school board I felt compelled to run to have the opportunity to give back to the community and school district that I care so much about. My experiences have equipped me to bring another perspective to our current board. I am passionate about the success of the Milford School District and the success of our students. If elected my goals are to focus on putting our students first, safe and supportive schools and increasing our family engagement.  

  1. What personal connections do you have to your local school district and community?

I am deeply connected to the Milford School District.  Not only did I graduate from Milford School District, but both my parents and grandparents also graduated from Milford. Currently, I am raising three children in the Milford School District. 

My experiences will allow me to view issues from many perspectives. I have 10+ years of experience in education including working as a paraprofessional, a teacher, and an administrator. I have a masters degree in special education and certification in administration, severe disabilities and autism. I have worked in multiple school districts including Cape Henlopen, Caesar Rodney, and most recently I taught here in Milford, at Mispillion Elementary. 

Currently, my full time job is “mom.”  This role includes serving as the PTP president at Morris Early Childhood Center and on the PTP at Ross Elementary School.  I have chaperoned field trips, helped with class parties, and helped run the school book fair. I also have volunteered for the last five years as a little league coach. These experiences have equipped me to be an asset to the school district and community. 

  1. How should district policy balance student privacy against parental rights?

I welcome families to ask questions and engage in discussion around their child and be involved in the educational process.  I am an extremely involved parent and I work hard to be in the know and support our schools.  With that said, I also have worked as a teacher and had situations where there were concerns of abuse or neglect.  School staff are mandated reporters and are trained to report, not investigate, when they have concerns.  I feel strongly that our school district must uphold student safety at all times.  I also feel strongly that we must work hard to engage our families in the learning process, do community outreach, and build strong bonds of trust and support between our families and our schools.   

  1. What should be the district’s approach to overseeing curriculum, reading material, and lesson planning in the classrooms?

I believe that students need access to a historically accurate education.  My goal is that we are producing students that are able to adapt to our ever evolving world, use critical thinking and problem solving skills, and collaborate with others.  This can only be accomplished through providing our students access to high quality literature and reading materials that challenge them to think critically. I believe all students need access to educational materials free from censorship and that leads to open dialogue about our history. I welcome training and support for our staff in order to help them feel supported and comfortable having tough conversations with students. 

  1. How well do you feel that your district currently serves students who are gifted, learning disabled, or who have other special needs? What policies does your district follow that should be improved, or adopted more widely?

Students with special education needs and the services to best support them is an ever evolving area of education.  The best practices to support learners with varying ability levels continue to grow.  A specific challenge that is faced by the Milford School District is that as a small district we need to build capacity in educators to best instruct and support many different special education needs.  As a small district we have less students in certain disability categories and this can be a challenge when learning what tools would benefit those individuals.  I believe that an area that we can continue to improve on is training, resources, and funding for special education students.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Stephanie Smith - Seaford

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The following response was sent to our survey:

Good evening,

The following are my responses to the School Board Survey:

1. Why are you running for School Board?

After retiring in 2021 from a career in education spanning twenty-nine years, I took some time to become more involved in other areas of interest.  But, what I realized is that the knowledge and experience I had acquired over the years I spent in schools was something that I needed to be able to share in some way.  The kids I taught years ago in Seaford are the parents of the children attending Seaford schools today.  I worked really hard to give them the best experience I could in our schools and in turn I want to be able to be an advocate for their children – just as I was for them.  I believe that I would be a valuable addition to our board and that my experiences will be an asset to the process when forming policy and making important decisions for our district.

2.  What personal connections do you have to your local school district and community?

Far too many to capture in this response!  I am a lifetime resident of the Seaford area and a K-12 attendee and graduate of the schools in Seaford.  Most of my career was spent in the Seaford School District where I have served as a substitute, intern, teacher, club advisor, school counselor, Assistant Principal, Principal, Director of Human Resources and Public Information, and parent.  Together with my husband, the late Dr. Mike Smith, we dedicated 50 years in combined service to the Blue Jays.   Most former students I meet around town, were either taught, counseled, coached, or under our care at one time or another in Seaford. Our own children attended Seaford schools.  In fact, our youngest daughter has just begun her own teaching career at Seaford High School where my husband and I met and fell in love while working together.  I have lived, shopped, dined, banked, volunteered, and worshipped in Seaford my whole life.  I at one time or another have been active in our community in organizations such as the AAUW, Kiwanis Club, Nanticoke Little League, St. John’s UMC Church, Seaford Golf and Country Club, AFS, Seaford Historical Society, Seaford Alumni Association, and Emmaus Community. My children have participated in activities such as Little League, SGCC swim team and junior golf, Seaford: field hockey, soccer, wrestling, softball, baseball, cross country, drama, and NJROTC.  My son served as a firefighter in the Seaford Volunteer Fire Company and was the Mayor’s Right Choice Award winner upon his graduation from Seaford.  Quite honestly – the connections are endless, and I go few places without being recognized by someone here in our community as a leader, mom, and educator.

3. How should district policy balance student privacy against parental rights?

A district must seek legal advice and depend on current case law when trying to determine if the policies they develop provides a balance between student privacy and parental rights.  Following guidelines for FERPA determines student information that can be shared and provides guidance for specific student data for students through the age of 18.  Other sources such as Title IX, the Equal Protection Clause, and state law should be considered as well.  Current legal recommendations can help identify the guidance to be followed in determining what to share with parents without violating individual student rights.  The NSBA (National School Board Association) would be an excellent resource on this increasingly complex matter. 

4.  What should be the district’s approach to overseeing curriculum, reading material, and lesson planning in the classrooms?

The selection of curricular materials has become a popular “lightening rod” as of late as political agendas are being forced upon our educational system.  It is a Board of Education’s responsibility to have a clear policy for reviewing questionable materials that allows for resolution through careful consideration & input from stakeholders. Such policies should recognize that the study of controversial issues is a pillar of creating independent thinkers of our students.  However, those studies must be age appropriate & reflect the values of the community the board serves.  Intellectual freedom must also be of prime consideration.  By being a part of the adoption process from the start, boards can help ensure that materials meet district criteria & state guidelines.  Clear steps must be provided to review materials questioned by parents so that there is a fair and balanced look & not a response to the “loudest voices”. 

The school board should not be in the business of evaluating individual lesson plans.  As the board, expectations are determined and communicated with the Superintendent of Schools who in turn creates the process by which school administrators evaluate lesson planning.  These plans should go beyond the teacher evaluation process and include data gathered from walkthroughs, department and team meetings, etc..  This data could, and should be shared with the board so that overall trends can be identified by school and/or by grade. 

5. How well do you feel that your district currently serves students who are gifted, learning disabled, or who have other special needs? What policies does your district follow that should be improved, or adopted more widely?

Our district has traditionally served students with special needs beyond the walls of our district as we have had special programs for years for students with more severe orthopedic special needs as a part of a county wide program.  We trained staff and built a program to be an approved site for the Delaware Autism Program many years ago as well. Our supports for our gifted student population have varied through the years from a SPARK program at the elementary level to Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programming at our secondary schools. As our population needs have changed, so has our programming.  At times, this lack of programming has caused parents to look at other alternatives for their child as I unfortunately had to do for my youngest child’s high school experience.

What I believe could improve our services is a more focused approach to the specific needs of students based on their progress monitoring and the creation of IEPS that will specifically instruct students on the resources they may use to compensate for their challenges.  We must use student data to not only identify needs but to also develop ways to address those needs, which are as individual as the students themselves. It was not until 9th grade that my own son was able to really study his disability himself and determine what resources helped him overcome his deficits due to his diagnosis and become an advocate for himself.  All schools  need to go beyond “cookie cutter” accommodations and really become attuned to what accommodations can be made that will help a student to be successful and help them become their own best advocates.  Things like “extra time” and “small group” in themselves aren’t true skill sets that will help a student become more successful.

As a board member, I would also help to ensure that resources are being allocated to meet the greatest needs in our schools and that we are hiring staff who are dedicated to meeting the needs of our diverse student population.

Stephanie Smith, Ed.D

Candidate for Seaford Board of Education

Monday, April 3, 2023

Christine Gilbert - Christiana C

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(Source: https://twitter.com/ChristineForCSB)

The following response was sent to our survey:

1 Why are you running for School Board?

My goal and purpose for running as a candidate for School Board is to develop today’s learners into tomorrow’s leaders through a challenging curriculum in an environment that is conducive to learning, exploration, and growth.

2 What personal connections do you have to your local school district and community?

I have been an active member of the community for over 25 years. Born and raised in New Castle County, DE I have spent many years working with children in our community. I was a Girl Scout Leader for 10 years with the Chesapeake Bay Girl Scouts, a CCD religious formation teacher for 12 years at St. John the Beloved Church, a parent volunteer (22 years) at the schools my four children attended, a lifeguard, Zumba instructor, choreographer, and a substitute teacher. I currently hold a Masters in Education from the University of Delaware and am certified to teach K-12 Special Education, K-6 Elementary Education, 5-12 Dance, and 9-12 English Language Arts by the Delaware Department of Education. I have taught Special Education to 4th and 5th grade students at Baltz Elementary and ELA in an inclusive environment for 9th and 10th graders at DAPPS (Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security). I have also served as Dance liaison at the four dance studios and competitions my daughters attended for 18 years.

3 How should district policy balance student privacy against parental rights?

Teachers, staff, and administrators will provide a child-centered learning environment that includes full transparency, honor parental rights, and include the participation of parents/guardians in child development programs, curriculum, and extracurricular activities. So long as a student is a minor (under the legal age of 18 per state definition), the district policy will include full disclosure to families/guardians of all matters pertaining to the child. 

4 What should be the district’s approach to overseeing curriculum, reading material, and lesson planning in the classrooms?

The district’s approach will:

-Provide the latest tools, materials, technologies, supplies, and supports necessary for teachers, coaches, staff, and students to effectively assist them in doing their jobs. 

-Develop a comprehensive and multi-faceted curriculum and supportive programs with additional arts/sports/trade/volunteer experiences to facilitate individual growth, innovation, confidence, and independence as learners and as highly functional citizens.

-Develop a 5-sensory curriculum that teaches learning objectives across all disciplines (math, ELA, science, history, & technology) and provides numerous opportunities to practice and master skills.

-Select reading material that is age-appropriate, historically accurate, grade level appropriate (at or above grade level), incorporate the use of trade books for literature more frequently than textbooks, have a clear and purposeful learning objective(s) for the concepts being taught, incorporate research/library skills, and integrate a selection of multi-cultural authors. I would like to see summer reading programs introduced for grades 3-12 to support reading fluency and comprehension continuity over break.

5 How well do you feel that your district currently serves students who are gifted, learning disabled, or who have other special needs? What policies does your district follow that should be improved, or adopted more widely?

Currently the district is falling short of meeting the needs of ALL students, not just gifted, special needs or those with learning disabilities. According to Christina School District’s Report Card for each school, the standardized test scores for math and ELA proficiencies are both disappointing and dismal, while the high school graduation rate is below the Delaware state average. The policies that need improvement are student attendance, AP enrollment, graduation rate, staffing schools with a full-time nurse and psychologist, college readiness, access to advanced technology/tools, summer reading requirements, math/reading/science mentorship, upgrade arts/sports/clubs/technology enrichment programs, and incorporate community service programs within the curriculum. The curriculum must be reflective of all cultures and learning styles, stimulate imagination, foster independence, and challenge the student to take risks. Cookie-cutter instruction must be curtailed so that instruction is fine-tuned to the individual learner. The purpose of education is to instill confidence, develop literacy, comprehension, mathematical and analytical skills, while fostering creativity and sound communication skills. 

Christine Gilbert, MEd.

Candidate for Christina School Board, District C


Jose Matthews - Red Clay D

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(Source: http://www.jose4redclay.com/)

The following response was sent to our survey.  The questions have been edited in for clarity:

Hello -- Here are my responses.


1. Why are you running for School Board? 

1. I am running for reelection because there's still so much work left to do. I want to help our District pass its first referendum in over a decade and I want to work harder to make sure we are recruiting and retaining educators through this teacher shortage. I am also running because I believe our Board needs to continue to be as transparent as possible and we need to continue to broadcast as many of our meetings and public comment sessions as possible on Zoom. It has worked for us since the pandemic and there have been light amounts of pushback from other Board members to continue the practice. If I'm reelected I will continue to advocate for meetings to be shared as publicly as possible.

2. What personal connections do you have to your local school district and community? 

2. I have visited every school in the district at some point during my first five years. I've visited classrooms and cafeterias and spoken with educators and students. I didn't have any personal connections to Red Clay before I moved to Delaware in 2015, but I do have personal connections to education in Pennsylvania, as I continue to serve as an advocate for my younger brother and sister, both of whom have IEPs at their school in the Unionville Chadds Ford School District. In my first campaign I knocked on over 2000 doors and hope to do the same in this campaign. 

3. How should district policy balance student privacy against parental rights? 

3. We should respect parents' rights, but we should also respect the rights and agency of students. On certain topics, I believe we should defer to the rights and safety of students. Sometimes, when parents could pose a threat to the mental health of their child, schools need to be a safe place where students can be free to be themselves. This was a broad conversation when I introduced and passed a policy in 2021 that allowed for students to not be outed to their parents if they chose to use their preferred names and pronouns at school. Again, parents' rights and engagement at school are critical. I have concerns when we place parents' rights ahead of student safety and well-being, though. I'm totally in favor of finding a balance and hope to continue to do so if reelected.

4. What should be the district’s approach to overseeing curriculum, reading material, and lesson planning in the classrooms?

4. It's the District's approach to implement state standards. It's also their job to work collaboratively with educators and the community to make decisions on curriculum and reading material. I believe the Board does a good job hiring administrators to work in this collaborative method. I trust them and our educators to make curricular decisions that are in the best interests of our diverse student body. I do not support some movements in some states that are calling on schools to limit what is taught in classes or attempts to ban books from school libraries. Students should have some say in the books they read and if parents don't like the books, they can keep them from their own children. I don't believe the Board should dictate teachers' lesson planning process. I trust the educators we hire to be providing rigorous, appropriate learning activities for students.

5. How well do you feel that your district currently serves students who are gifted, learning disabled, or who have other special needs? What policies does your district follow that should be improved, or adopted more widely?

5. I believe we do OK in these areas, but that an antiquated funding system keeps us from doing more. I'd like to see more supports for our neediest learners -- smaller class sizes, more paraprofessionals, and more real-world life skills learning opportunities for students. As well, I'd like Delaware to follow the lead of Pennsylvania, which is one of the only states in the nation using GIEP -- Gifted IEPs for students performing well above grade level. We need to make sure gifted teachers are fully funded in all of our schools -- and not just those with large numbers of high-performing students. I have made that a big point of mine in the last five years on the Board and will continue to fight for equitable gifted offerings in all of our schools.