Supreme Court Upholds Newark Charter Schools Expansion | New Jersey News
By DAVID PORTER, Associated Press
The New Jersey Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the state’s decision to allow the expansion of seven charter schools in Newark, dismissing a challenge that this would hamper the ability of traditional public school students to obtain a quality education .
The lawsuit was brought by the Education Law Center, a Newark-based nonprofit that has filed lawsuits on behalf of students in poor school districts in New Jersey and other states.
He said the decision of the New Jersey education commissioner in 2016 to approve increased enrollment and expansion of charter school facilities would negatively affect funding for public schools.
The Supreme Court found that the ELC and the Newark School Board, which had joined the appeal, had failed to demonstrate that the expansion of charter schools would result in fiscal harm to traditional public schools.
The lawsuit argued that because Newark was one of 31 urban school districts identified in landmark legal decisions in the 1980s and 1990s as the victim of inadequate and unequal funding, the state would have to demonstrate that the The expansion of charter schools would not jeopardize the quality of traditional public school education. But the Supreme Court rejected this argument.
The court agreed with the plaintiffs, however, that the commissioner’s decision did not take into account the racial impact the expansion could have, nor the potential it could increase segregation by leaving the city’s traditional public schools. with a higher concentration of disabled students. or English needs.
While failure to conduct this analysis rendered the ruling flawed, the judges wrote that overturning it would be impractical and could disrupt the education of thousands of students at Newark charter schools.
“We believe that in determining future requests to open new charter schools or to expand enrollment or facilities in charter schools, the commissioner should address both issues in depth,” Judge Anne Patterson wrote in the 7-0 opinion.
Charter schools are free public schools that operate at arm’s length from a local school district school board and are instead governed by an independent board of directors. They are open to all students within the school’s geographic district and admission is often awarded by lottery due to high demand.
Newark’s first charter school opened in the late 1990s, and nearly two dozen are currently operating in the city. In the lawsuit, the ELC predicted that if the charter school expansion was approved, 50% of all Newark students would be enrolled in charter schools within five years.
“This decision now makes the Commissioner aware of the state’s constitutional obligation, on an ongoing basis, to assess the impact of charter schools on student segregation and take action to address those impacts.” said Education Law Center executive director David Sciarra. in a statement Tuesday.
Harry Lee, president of the New Jersey Public Charter School Association, said in an email that the ruling recognizes that “public charter schools are an integral part of the education ecosystem in Newark and the continued expansion of charters. of Newark improved the quality of the city’s overall public education system.