BOARD, CHARTER SCHOOL AT PEACE, SORT OF

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The Red Bank Board of Education and the Charter School have finally, formally agreed to make nice. They’ve signed a consent agreement settling a lawsuit filed by the board in 2001, today’s Asbury Park Press reports.

From the story:

In that suit, borough school district officials contended that the charter school was a segregated school with a population that was not racially and ethnically representative of the borough’s population of school-age children.

The order directs the charter school to use its best efforts to assure that makeup of the school — based on gender, race/ethnicity, economic status and English-speaking ability — equates as closely as is practical to that of the overall student population living in Red Bank, wrote Administrative Law Judge John Tassini.

The board of ed and the Charter school board have each approved the deal, and it was finalized this week by Tassini. But not everyone is happy about it. According to the Press, school board member Mary Ellen Mess voted against the consent.

Mess said the order didn’t address her contention that a larger portion of the charter school student population is whiter than that of the borough schools, which she said constitutes segregation.

“No one would disagree it’s a much whiter school than the borough schools are,” said R. Armen McOmber, attorney for the borough school district. “We always said, when you have two schools in one borough of 10,000 people that look so different, there has to be a problem. The courts have said they have to look like the borough schools.”

Charter school officials, though, contend that the segregation accusation is an old canard, and that the Oakland Street school is already largely complying with the terms of the agreement.

“Look at the complete demographic of all the school-age children in Red Bank, and we match that population,” said Meredith Pennotti, charter school principal. “We’re a diverse school. A few people are reticent to let go of notions that are nine years old.”

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