“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,” said Acting Commissioner Cerf. “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.” [emphasis mine]Wow, sounds tough. Except that when the Cherry Hill school district looked at the application - after filing a freedom of information-type (OPRA) request - it turns out things weren't quite as "rigorous" as Cerf led us to believe:
In Cherry Hill, as in many suburban school districts, funding for public education comes primarily from local property taxes. Yet our local taxpayers have had no say in whether a charter school can open in our district. The decision to approve the Regis application rested entirely with the Acting Commissioner of Education.
Sorry, Cherry Hill: it appears the rules aren't the same when you've got good political connections.In attempting to determine why this charter was approved, we filed an OPRA request for the application review sheets; the DOE denied our OPRA request, but later released the review sheets to our solicitor as part of the official record on appeal. Here’s what we found: Three reviewers reviewed the application, giving scores of “Meets the Standard,” “Approaches the Standard,” or “Does Not Meet the Standard” in 14 categories. Three reviewers, 14 categories, for a total of 42 indicators. Regis’s application was deemed to meet the standard in just 20 of the 42 possible indicators. That’s a score of 47.6%. Shouldn’t a charter school application be subject to at least the 80% standard that school districts must achieve in the NJQSAC review? [emphasis mine]
Hey, I've got an idea: maybe if you got some of your board members to sit behind Chris Christie at his next
I'm sure it's just a happy accident that Regis's clearly deficient application to open a charter in a town that neither wants nor needs it got approved while others did not. Nothing to see here folks; move along...