rbcs 020416 1A proposal to double the size of the charter school called for using the building on Monmouth Street for new classroom space. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


The Red Bank Charter School expansion will have to wait.

New Jersey Education Commissioner David Hespe has rejected the charter school’s request to double its enrollment, according to a letter sent to the school Monday.

  RBCS 02316Charter school Principal Meredith Pennotti, center, and Business Administrator David Block at a board of trustees meeting last week night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

“Based on my review of the school’s request and review of public comments, the school’s amendment request has been denied,” Hespe said in a letter, dated Monday, to now-former RBCS Board of Trustees president Janice Havay.

Here’s the letter: RBCS Denial Letter 022916

In a prepared statement, charter school Superintendent and Principal Meredith Pennotti said the school was “disappointed” by the decision.

“This is a missed opportunity to have served Red Bank and an increased number of its economically disadvantaged students via the weighted lottery,” the statement said. “We look forward to continuing to serve our students and families with a high-caliber education.”

The school had sought state permission to hold a weighted lottery, which proponents said would boost the odds of socio-economically disadvantaged children getting into the school.

Later in the afternoon, Pennotti declined further comment, telling redbankgreen that school officials wanted to “digest” the decision.

“I think we’ll leave it at that for now,” she said.

“Expansion denied,” district Superintendent Jared Rumage said in a Twitter post announcing the decision. “Story changed. Thanks for believing in us & our children.”

Rumage could not immediately be reached for comment. At least one district board of ed member was elated, however.

“I screamed out loud in front of one of my client’s houses when I got the news,” former board president Ben Forest told redbankgreen. Referring to the Christie Administration’s avowed support of charter schools in general, Forest said opponents of the RBCS proposal “won in spite of the state’s policy encouraging charters. That’s big.”

Opponents claimed approval of the expansion plan would saddle the host district with crippling expenses, leading to reduced staffing and larger classroom populations.

Asked for comment, DOE spokesman David Saenz said the agency had “nothing to add” to the contents of the denial letter.

Here’s the charter school’s application to the DOE: RBCS Amendment Request Dec 2015