By JOHN T. WARD
The Red Bank Charter School engaged in “outright fabrication” of data used to support its pending request for a five-year charter extension, opponents alleged Thursday.
The purported falsification, concerning the numbers of resident white and Hispanic children who attend private and parochial schools, was used “in a deliberate attempt to mislead the state Department of Education and to perpetuate the myth that the taxpayer-funded 200-student school reflects the pre-K through 8th grade demographics of the community,” according to two groups seeking a shutdown of the school over alleged civil rights issues.
The charter school dismissed the allegations.
Fair Schools Red Bank and the Latino Coalition of New Jersey made the allegations in an addendum to a civil rights complaint they filed with the federal Justice Department in November. That complaint seeks an investigation into charter school enrollment and funding practices that they claim make Red Bank the “most segregated” school district in New Jersey.
In correspondence to both the Justice Department and the New Jersey Department of Education Thursday, the groups allege that the charter school used outdated Census data a year ago in support of its effort to win state approval to double enrollment, a request that was rejected by the state last February.
The alleged faulty data is now being used in support of the charter extension application, they allege.
From the filings:
The Red Bank Charter School has maintained that there are 658 children of pre-K through 8th grade ages in the borough who attend private schools. Multiple U.S. Census counts that were available to the charter school yet not cited in any official correspondence or public statement suggest the number of children in that cohort is approximately 145. The Census count is exactly in line with research conducted by the Red Bank Public Schools, which found the number of private school students to be 66 and parochial school students to be about 75.
The two groups’ contentions are more fully detailed in the addendum, available here: Civil Rights Addendum 012617
“The numbers cited by the Charter School appear to have been conjured from thin air,” said Wayne Woolley, the father of two public school students and a founder of Fair Schools Red Bank, said in a prepared statement. “No one should be surprised. Charter school leaders have a shameful habit of dismissing the impact of the segregation caused by their school, diminishing the negative financial impact their duplicative costs have on the community and overstating their academic performance.”
In the letter to Acting Education Commissioner Kimberly Harrington, Latino Coalition Director Frank Argote-Freyre wrote: “This latest deception is part of a pattern of deception on the part of RBCS to perpetuate a segregated school funded by the taxpayers. It is a shameful legacy that the state Department of Education needs to bring to an end by declining to renew the school’s charter.”
In response to a request by redbankgreen for comment, Bruno Tedeschi, a public relations consultant for the charter school, sent this statement:
Asked to address the allegation of “outright fabrication,” Tedeschi said “it’s disrespectful and insulting to belittle the work of a respected education consultant,” referring to Anthony Novembre.
The DOE is expected to decide the renewal question by February 28.