Today, the NJ Department of Education under Governor Christie’s administration approved four additional charter schools in NJ to open in 2012, none serving Essex County. The approved schools are:
- Beloved Community Charter School in Jersey City
- Knowledge A to Z Charter School in Camden
- Regis Academy Charter School serving Cherry Hill, Lawnside, Somerdale, Voorhees Township
- Trenton Scholars Charter School in Trenton
According to the DoE’s website, “This selection brings the total number of charter schools approved in 2011 to 27, the largest number approved in any one year since the charter law was passed in New Jersey. With one more selection round in the fall, there are currently 25 approved charters eligible to open in September 2012, pending approval during a readiness review in July. In addition, there will be 3200 new charter seats in September 2012 from the expansion of existing charter schools.”
The four approved schools were chosen from 55 applications for new charters. Three of those applications were for proposed charters serving Baristaville:
- Hua Mei Charter School, a Mandarin immersion school, which would have served South Orange-Maplewood, West Orange, Livingston, and Union.
- Rita L. Owens Charter School which was to be located in Irvington and would have serve South Orange/Maplewood and other area students from 6th – 8th grade. The Charter School proposes to be a paperless school, relying on computer equipment and online content.
- Quest Academy, which would have been located in Montclair to serve kids in grade 9 – 12.
This is the fourth application denial for Quest Academy. After the third denial, the group filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, Appellate Division to overturn the denial on the last application, because they charged it was denied without good cause.
Superintendent of the South Orange – Maplewood school district, Brian Osborne, who was against the opening of the Hua Mei and Rita L. Owens charter schools, said, “We appreciate NJDOE’s decision and are now focused in redoubling our efforts to ensure that all students have an excellent education that prepares them for college and career.”
Acting Commissioner Chris Cerf, a resident of Montclair, explained in today’s approved Charter School release that the, “most important bar that any applicant must clear is demonstrating that the school has a very high likelihood of providing an excellent education to its students. Through our rigorous review process, we became confident that these four schools will offer students a great education on day one of the school year. The Department will work with applicants who were not approved in this round but demonstrated potential to continue to develop their application for consideration in future rounds. It has been our experience that with additional guidance and time to plan, applicants who were not approved have been able to resubmit successful applications.”