The deadline for people to file to run for the May 9 school board elections has passed, but it may take weeks until the final list of candidates is published.
The problem: A 2021 law that requires school board candidates to complete a criminal background check and a child registry check.
These must be completed before candidates’ names can be posted on the Department of Elections’ website.
“New Castle County in particular has up to a four-week delay in turning around those background checks,” said Laurisa Schutt, executive director of First State Educate, a local advocacy group that wants to catalyze radical change in education by activating the power of Delawareans.
Rather than listing “pending” for candidates who are waiting on checks to be completed, the state’s elections page omits them.
“Now the public has no idea who is actually running,” Schutt said.
Efforts were not successful Friday afternoon to get a comment from the Delaware Department of Elections.
First State Educate knows of several candidates whose names have not yet shown up among election filings.
School board seats’ four-year terms are staggered so all members aren’t running at once.
Last year, 42 people ran for school district board seats. On Friday, only 26 candidates were listed.
Even for the incumbents who are re-registering, there is a $79 filing fee which includes the background check.
“That isn’t communicated,” Schutt said. That’s added to confusion, she said.
There’s also not enough places to have a background check done, Schutt said.
New Castle County especially has very few centers that provide backgrounding, which could be a deterrent for people to run, she said.
The final list of candidates probably won’t be available for several weeks, Schutt predicted.
“The school board campaign window is only until May 9, so it’s a very, very short window,” she said. “The entire campaign period is only nine weeks, so to lose a few weeks because the listing isn’t there is a pretty significant disadvantage for those candidates.”
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This delay highlights why rules need to be transparent and accessible to the general public, she said.
While the number is likely to grow, here is who was listed Friday.
Appoquinimink School District
- Tashiba Graham
- Raymond Joseph Petkevis
- Shawn Rohe
Brandywine School District
- Ralph Ackerman, incumbent
Christina School District
- Christine Gilbert
- Douglas Danger Manley
Red Clay School District
- Aje English-Wynn
Caesar Rodney School District
- Tawanna Prophet Brinkley
- Nicole Hill
Capital School District
- Sean P.M. Christiansen, incumbent
Lake Forest School District
- Jordan McCloskey, incumbent
Milford School District
- Ashlee Connell
- Danielle Deinert
- Victor “Butch” Elzey III
- Dinae Woodside
- Jennifer Massotti
Smyrna School District
- Marie Fontaine St Pierre
- Bobbi Jo Webber
Cape Henlopen School District
- Jessica Tyndall, incumbent
Delmar School District
- Shane Bowden
- Dawn Turner
Indian River School District
- Michael Bellerose
- Leolga Wright, incumbent
Seaford School District
- Stephanie Smith
- David Tull, incumbent
Woodbridge School District
- Jeffrey Allen, incumbent
There are no filed candidates listed for the two open seats in Colonial School District or the one open seat for Laurel School District.
For more information on the candidates, click here.
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
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