By JOHN T. WARD
Hours after a public hearing on the proposed doubling of enrollment at the Red Bank Charter School was announced Tuesday evening, charter school officials have reversed course and said they will not participate.
Instead, the school will hold its own forum on the controversial issue, open to the public, next week, Principal Meredtih Pennotti told redbankgreen Wednesday morning.
The Friday hearing, called by Mayor Pasquale Menna’s so-called blue-ribbon commission on the charter school proposal, is still scheduled to be held at the Red Bank Middle School auditorium at 7 p.m., weather permitting, district Superintendent Jared Rumage said.
A major winter storm is now forecast by the National Weather Service to begin Friday night.
Both Pennotti and Rumage had been expected to make presentations to the panel, which is in hurry-up mode to come up with a report in time for a February 1 deadline. That’s when the comment period ends prior to New Jersey Education Commissioner David Hespe, who has sole authority to approve or reject the plan, making his decision on the expansion plan, which would boost enrollment to 400 over three years.
Now, Rumage said, it’s his understanding that “it will likely be only my presentation” to the panel, with no official representation of the charter school.
Pennotti confirmed that she won’t attend, but deferred saying why, pending the completion of an email she said she was composing to the panel and others “that explains what we’re willing to participate in and what we object to.” As of 10 a.m., redbankgreen had not received the email, but will post its contents upon receipt.
She also said the charter school would host, sometime early next week, an open public forum “to hear what [residents and others] have to say and let them hear what we have to say.”
Meanwhile, parents of charter school students have been invited to “family fact” meeting to be held at 7 p.m. tonight in the school’s new STEM lab at 135 Monmouth Street, a building the school recently rented. That meeting is not open to the public, Pennotti said.
Here’s the charter school’s application to the DOE: RBCS Amendment Request Dec 2015