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Politics

Odyssey, Greek Charter School Board Shake-Up Following Discriminatory “Jokes”

February 18, 2020

WILMINGTON, DE – Odyssey Charter School (OCS) in Wilmington opened its doors in 2006, as Delaware’s first mathematics content focused, second language (Greek) elementary education charter school. Offering “strong academics” and “insight into the classical learning ideals of Hellenism,” according to its website, the school made headlines on February 16, when Board President Josiah Wolcott announced his resignation “during an emergency meeting following controversial comments made by a board member,” WPVI Action News reported.

Delaware’s Secretary of Education Susan Bunting had placed OCS “under review” last week following jokes allegedly made by board members at a January meeting at the expense of a neighboring charter school, Academia Antonia Alonso, a Spanish immersion school whose students are mostly Latino, WPVI reported, adding that the review triggers “an investigative process to determine whether the school violated its charter and the probationary conditions of its charter renewal.”

“During a recorded discussion about potential parking restrictions, an Odyssey board member noted that he had told school administrators ‘somewhat in jest’ to erect a fence, the News-Journal reported,” WPVI noted, adding that “laughter ensued as another person said, ‘build the wall,’ according to the newspaper, which reported that a board member tried to steer the conversation back on track before noting ‘the jokes write themselves.’”

“The Delaware Department of Education said Bunting condemned the ‘discriminatory statements’ that Odyssey board members were accused of making about Academia Antonia Alonso Charter School,” WPVI reported.

Michael Klezaras stepped down from the OCS Board on February 12 after Wolcott called for his resignation the previous week, The News Journal reported, adding that Klezaras has “apologized and opened a dialogue with leadership at Academia Antonia Alonso,” the board wrote in an email to the Odyssey community.

“In my time as president, I have guided this school through a really difficult Formal Review process,” Wolcott told the News Journal on February 12. “I should be the one that continues this journey of Odyssey and navigate us through the Formal Review process. Until my term ends, I still have a lot of unfinished business. Now that I’ve seen this happen, I feel I’m in a better position to be aware of these types of issues.”

The New Journal also reported that “Wolcott said he has not asked any other members to resign,” and “the board is in the process of finalizing plans for sensitivity training for board members and administrators.”

Delaware Public Media (DPM) reported on February 12 that Academia Antonio Alonso School Board President Maria Alonso said she heard personally from Klezaras: “I received a letter of apology from Michael Klezaras, the board member that has been scapegoated by Odyssey leadership and has been asked to resign. It is heartbreaking. That man is broken. The actions of the current leadership to scape[goat] you, Mr. Klezaras, is unconscionable, unjust, and frankly cowardly.”

Alonso also hoped that Wolcott would do more, DPM reported. She said, “Please do the right thing. You know the members that need to step down, until then we will not go silent. We will not stop. We are moved to action to continue to speak up until what is right is done,” DPM reported.

It should be noted that AHEPA members helped launch the OCS and two of its members are also OCS Board members, in line with AHEPA’s dedication to education.

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