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11-22-11 Charter School Issues in the News
Njspotlight.com - Suburban Schools vs. Charter: First Round Goes to the Suburbs…Princeton charter says it will next appeal decision to acting commissioner “…The issue is not charter vs. public schools, but the rights of a board to make decisions to protect its students, retain its funds, and seek the advice of an attorney," said Judith Wilson, superintendent of the Princeton Regional Schools District…Certainly if districts feel they may be harmed, they may find themselves in a better position to challenge," said Lynne Strickland, director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, whose members include most of the districts involved in the challenges.

The Record - Teaneck virtual charter school will delay opening if funding law stays same … "I believe in the expansion of excellent charter schools, of all different kinds of models that can enhance the educational options that children have, most particularly in failing districts and I believe that should be the emphasis that the Department of Education places on these things as we move forward," Christie said. "I don't necessarily see a crying-out need in successful districts to have more choice, because typically parents don't want to have more choice."

Njspotlight.com - Suburban Schools vs. Charter: First Round Goes to the Suburbs…Princeton charter says it will next appeal decision to acting commissioner   “…The issue is not charter vs. public schools, but the rights of a board to make decisions to protect its students, retain its funds, and seek the advice of an attorney," said Judith Wilson, superintendent of the Princeton Regional Schools District…Certainly if districts feel they may be harmed, they may find themselves in a better position to challenge," said Lynne Strickland, director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, whose members include most of the districts involved in the challenges.

The Record  - Teaneck virtual charter school will delay opening if funding law stays same"I believe in the expansion of excellent charter schools, of all different kinds of models that can enhance the educational options that children have, most particularly in failing districts and I believe that should be the emphasis that the Department of Education places on these things as we move forward," Christie said. "I don't necessarily see a crying-out need in successful districts to have more choice, because typically parents don't want to have more choice."

 

 

The Record  - Teaneck virtual charter school will delay opening if funding law stays same

 

 

 

Njspotlight.com - Suburban Schools vs. Charter: First Round Goes to the Suburbs…Princeton charter says it will next appeal decision to acting commissioner   “…The issue is not charter vs. public schools, but the rights of a board to make decisions to protect its students, retain its funds, and seek the advice of an attorney," said Judith Wilson, superintendent of the Princeton Regional Schools District…Certainly if districts feel they may be harmed, they may find themselves in a better position to challenge," said Lynne Strickland, director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, whose members include most of the districts involved in the challenges.

By John Mooney, November 22 in Education|1 Comment

An administrative law decision in favor of three suburban districts fighting a charter school in their midst could embolden districts facing similar battles.

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That was the essence of the discussion among both charter and district advocates yesterday. The subject: the decision on Friday by administrative law judge Lisa James-Beavers rejecting Princeton International Academy Charter School (PIACS) in its suit against three districts challenging its opening.

PIACS had charged that Princeton Regional, West Windsor-Plainsboro, and South Brunswick had wrongfully spent more than $100,000 in taxpayers' money for legal and other fees to fight the school's opening, including opposing PIACS' application for a zoning variance.

But in a decision that now moves to acting education commissioner Chris Cerf, James-Beavers found that the school boards had the right to protect the districts' interests. While she took a slap at the districts' claiming that charter schools are "quasi-private" when they are not, she said nothing prevented them from even saying that in their campaign against the schools.

"There is no indication that the boards so acted without rational basis or that such actions were induced by improper motives," James-Beavers wrote.

She said a formal appeal after the state's approval of the school might have been preferable, but it did not preclude other means. "They could have rationally concluded that the best interests of their schools necessitated opposition to the establishment of PIACS through other channels," the judge wrote.

The charter immediately said it would pursue the case with Cerf, and potentially beyond. It had contended that the districts had ample opportunity to register their opposition through the formal appeals process, an appeal they never filed.

"While PIACS was disappointed in today's decision, we are confident in our position that the expenditure of over $100,000 in public funds to oppose a charter school approved by the commissioner of education is wrong and that our position will be vindicated on appeal," said the school in a written statement.

Conversely, the superintendent of at least one of the districts expressed her satisfaction with the decision, saying this was never about the charter school's existence.

"The issue is not charter vs. public schools, but the rights of a board to make decisions to protect its students, retain its funds, and seek the advice of an attorney," said Judith Wilson, superintendent of the Princeton Regional Schools District.

The decision came as charters and public schools in New Jersey have increasingly turned to the courts to resolve their differences. This is one of four cases with formal legal actions underway.

Most prominent has been Cherry Hill's challenge in state appellate court to this fall's approval of the Regis Academy Charter School, contending it would draw nearly $2 million from the district's coffers.

One district advocate said PIACS' loss in its case provides districts some sense of relief, especially given it was PIACS that initiated the lawsuit.

"Certainly if districts feel they may be harmed, they may find themselves in a better position to challenge," said Lynne Strickland, director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, whose members include most of the districts involved in the challenges.

She added that the ruling may chill charter schools from fighting back, as PIACS had done. "This may be a double dose they weren't seeking," Strickland said.

But charter advocates weren't so sure, saying the decision only maintains the status quo.

"I wouldn't characterize it as a real blow against charters," said Carlos Perez, president of the New Jersey Charter Schools Association. "Each of these challenges is its own case. There are districts that will oppose charters, and they will likely continue. And we'll continue to make our case."

 

The Record  - Teaneck virtual charter school will delay opening if funding law stays same"I believe in the expansion of excellent charter schools, of all different kinds of models that can enhance the educational options that children have, most particularly in failing districts and I believe that should be the emphasis that the Department of Education places on these things as we move forward," Christie said. "I don't necessarily see a crying-out need in successful districts to have more choice, because typically parents don't want to have more choice."

 

Monday, November 21, 2011 , By Denisa R. Superville

 

TEANECK — The lead founder of the Garden State Virtual Charter School said Monday that the school would delay opening if the state charter school law is not amended to address funding for virtual charter schools.

"Should the New Jersey Department of Education … approve our charter application, but … restrict it to just a single school district, our board intends to decline the charter approval and not implement the school," Jason Flynn, a Teaneck resident and parent of a Teaneck public school student, wrote to school officials over the weekend. "Rather, the school would await specific legislative or regulatory changes that would permit unrestricted statewide student enrollment prior to launching our program."

The issue over the charter school's funding erupted recently after the state Education Department sent a letter to the district informing it that, based on the state charter school funding law, it could be responsible for approximately $15.4 million of the cost of funding the school.

Flynn, who reiterated his comments in an interview Monday, said the K-12 statewide virtual charter school, which applied for state approval last month, will likely draw most of its students from urban areas such as Paterson and Newark. The school would draw 1,000 students from around the state and would have a drop-in center in Teaneck. Less than 1 percent of the student body would come from Teaneck, he said.

The founders will find out in January whether the school has been approved to open in the fall.

In New Jersey, charter schools receive taxpayer dollars for each student equal to 90 percent of per-pupil funding in the district where the student resides.

While the Education Department's letter said that the correspondence was for planning purposes, the district said that removing $15.4 million from its operating budget would have devastating consequences.

The Education Department has since said that the district will not be responsible for the cost of educating all students who may attend the charter school — just those from Teaneck.

Flynn's e-mail to the district came as administrators were preparing to meet with education officials in Trenton on Wednesday to discuss their concerns over the proposed virtual charter school.

Superintendent Barbara Pinsak said Monday that the district asked for the meeting to get some clarification before deciding how to proceed.

"Before this goes further, we are going to the Department of Education to give our position and our concerns, so that perhaps they will be able to give us something concrete, so that we can give our public something concrete," she said.

Justin Barra, an Education Department spokesman, said department officials would "listen to any thoughts and comments the district has on the charter application that's in front of us right now.

In his e-mail dated Nov. 19 and addressed to Pinsak and board Secretary Robert Finger, Flynn said he had been attempting to meet with district officials to allay their concerns and correct misconceptions about the charter school. However, Pinsak denied that Flynn had attempted to set up a meeting with them.

Pinsak said the school board had been open with the public about the correspondence from the Department of Education.

"I have stated on many occasions that, by the time the district finds out which student attendees are from the Teaneck Public Schools, the damage will have been done to the district because the budget needs to be developed by late February or early March at the latest, with the budget vote taken in April," she said in an e-mail Monday. "The state does not finalize student numbers until the fall."

Governor Christie waded into the debate on Monday, when he was asked at a press conference to comment on the ongoing debate over the virtual charter school in Teaneck and online charter schools in general. Christie declined to comment on the Teaneck application, but said his position on charter schools has been consistent.

"I believe in the expansion of excellent charter schools, of all different kinds of models that can enhance the educational options that children have, most particularly in failing districts and I believe that should be the emphasis that the Department of Education places on these things as we move forward," Christie said. "I don't necessarily see a crying-out need in successful districts to have more choice, because typically parents don't want to have more choice."

 


Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608
609-394-2828