DSEA Holds Annual Representative Assembly

On Saturday, March 23, 2024, 166 elected delegates, representing local associations from all 19 school districts and our organized charter schools, gathered at the Chase Center on the Riverfront (Wilmington) for the annual DSEA Representative Assembly (RA). 

The RA is the annual "business" meeting where policy changes, bylaw amendments, budget, and new business items are debated and voted upon by local delegates.  Delegates also vote on proposed resolutions and receive updates on DSEA's legislative program. The delegates are members of the different local associations within DSEA.  Each association is allotted one delegate for every 50 members.  This is done to provide the various educator groups, whether its certificated or education support professional members, with proportional representation.

This year's gathering began with something the organization has not seen since its 2008 RA: a candidate forum for the upcoming election of Governor. In addition to the candidate forum, which featured all four declared candidates, delegates also reviewed and voted on proposed changes to DSEA Bylaws, reviewed the organization's resolutions, and received key programmatic updates.

Below is a recap of the key parts of the RA and the work accomplished by the dedicated members who served as delegates. 


Gubernatorial Candidate Forum

The Gubernatorial Candidate Forum featured participation from all four of the declared candidates for Governor. Bethany Hall-Long (Lt. Governor- Delaware), Matt Meyer (New Castle County Executive), and Collin O'Mara (CEO of National Wildlife Federation) are the candidates for the Democratic nomination. The Republican candidate is Jerry Price, a resident of Lewes and a former NYPD and Rehoboth Beach police officer. 

In her introductory remarks for the forum, DSEA President Stephanie Ingram emphasized the significance of the event, highlighting DSEA's influential role in state politics. Each candidate had 10 minutes to deliver opening comments, followed by a 20-minute Q&A session. 

A video recording of the entire candidate forum will be made available to DSEA members. 


Bylaw Amendments

Delegates reviewed and voted on three bylaw amendments recommended by the DSEA Executive Board. 

Bylaw Amendment 1 clarified language about who must receive DSEA election ballots and the specific date by which membership must be in place to be eligible to vote in DSEA elections. 

Bylaw Amendment 2 addressed Retired member voting procedures, making sure rules for Retired members voting for DSEA Executive Board follow the same regulations that Active DSEA members must follow. 

Finally, bylaw amendment 3 clarified the dates when ballots must be distributed and when notification of results must be sent to members. 

Members can view the DSEA Bylaws using the following link: DSEA Bylaws


DSEA Resolutions

DSEA’s “resolutions” are clear and direct statements about what the Association believes in. They are “big picture” ideas that state the position of the Association clearly and are consistent with its goals and mission.  

The resolutions touch on a wide variety of issues and topics that impact public education and educators. The subject areas total 29 and include sections such as “Financing of Public Education”, “Educational Equity”, “Curriculum Content”, and “Health, Welfare, and Safety”. 

In preparation for the RA, the DSEA Resolutions Committee met throughout the winter to review changes made at the 2023 NEA RA to their resolutions.  

The changes in the document presented at the DSEA RA were made to keep DSEA’s belief statements current and relevant with the needs of today. Examples include being more inclusive and giving proper recognition as to the Association’s belief in the importance of “Culturally Responsive Education,” “Comprehensive Health Care,” “Environmental Responsibility,” and “HBCUs.” 

Members can view the DSEA Resolutions using the following link: DSEA Resolutions


Financial Update

DSEA Treasurer Mary Pieri delivered a financial update to delegates, highlighting the current state of the DSEA operating budget as it sits at the midpoint of its two-year cycle.  

Pieri proudly reported that the organization remains on a strong financial footing, with revenues outpacing expenses. Revenues come from membership dues, grants from NEA, and interest income. That revenue goes towards supporting a range of programs for the organization (e.g., professional and leadership development; member engagement, and conferences), as well as staff and governance salaries and benefits, and maintenance costs for DSEA facilities. 

Pieri also highlighted recent DSEA successes in the areas of professional practice, education policy, and political engagement. 

  • Professional Practice: DSEA established a dedicated team of professional development trainers comprised of our own DSEA members. This team is responsible for creating and delivering high-quality professional development courses, both online and in person. In addition to these ongoing efforts, we recently hosted two successful in-person leadership training events. Furthermore, we are excited to report that we held the first in-person ESP Conference since the COVID pandemic. We are also grateful for the $235,500 NEA grant we received to support building capacity and leadership skills among Education Support Professionals (ESPs).
  • Education Policy: DSEA played a key role in the formation of the Public Employees Compensation Committee (PECC). It also continues to lobby the Professional Standards Board to ensure proposed changes are respectful of the roles and responsibilities held by educators. Finally, the organization remains a strong voice for the responsible implementation of the Delaware Teacher Growth Support System (DTGSS).
  • Political Engagement: The organization remains actively engaged in political advocacy. This includes the ongoing fight for improved leave benefits for educators, increased funding for mental health support in schools, and leveraging our Political Action Committee (PAC) funds to support referendums that align with our values. 

The financial update concluded with a look at the remainder of the current budget cycle. Pieri reiterated DSEA’s continued commitment to promoting the outstanding work that members do to support students and families.  


Legislative Update

Taylor Hawk, DSEA’s Director of Legislation and Political Organizing, provided an update on the current legislative session.

  • Passed by the Senate:  Senate Bill 20- The Christopher Chujoy Act (Donated time ratio). This bill changes the ratio for donated leave to 1:1, instead of the previous 2:1. The legislation is named in honor of Christopher Chujoy, who worked as a paraprofessional at Anna P. Mote Elementary School (Red Clay) until his passing from cancer in January of 2024. The Senate passed SB 20. The bill now awaits action in the House.
  • Passed by the House: House Bill 279 (bereavement leave for the loss of a pregnancy); Bill awaits action in the Senate.
  • Passed by the House: HB 281 (Repealing the option of Medicare Advantage); Bill awaits action in the Senate.
  • Passed by the House: HB 282 (Improvements to the composition and operations of SEBC); Bill awaits action in the Senate.
  • Passed by both chambers: Senate Concurrent Resolution 119- Student Behavior and School Climate Task Force. This legislation establishes a task force to comprehensively study student behavior and school climate data and trends and make legislative recommendations.
  • Legislation in progress: Efforts continue to streamline the non-academic trainings required of educators. 


DSEA Advocacy Fund for Children and Public Education

RA Delegates were active and committed in their support of the DSEA Advocacy Fund for Children and Public Education. Delegates contributed a total of $10,206 towards the fund, increasing their already generous support, and ensuring that DSEA can continue to support candidates and advocate for laws that will make a positive difference in the lives of Delaware students and educators. 

The DSEA Advocacy Fund for Children and Public Education, commonly referred to as the DSEA Children’s Fund, is the political action fund (PAC) that members can voluntarily support to help elect candidates and advance policies that improve the lives of students, their families, and educators.  

Please visit DSEA PAC for more information about the DSEA Advocacy Fund for Children and Public Education, its accomplishments, and how you can increase or begin your contributions.


Closing Remarks

DSEA President Stephanie Ingram closed out the Representative Assembly with remarks that spoke to the critical work educators do every day and the importance of continuing to advocate for their students, their colleagues, and themselves. 

“What we do every day ensures we promote, protect, and strengthen the public education system in DE. Keep in mind that we need to help members rediscover the good that union work does for us, and what we can all do when we come together for what is best for public education.  Remember our mission statement: The Delaware State Education Association, a union of public-school employees, advocates for the rights and interests of its members and outstanding public education for all students. More than just words, that is the work we do. Only by working together can we continue to make a difference in Delaware.”