RED BANK: CHARTER REVIEW VOTE SLATED

Authorization of the charter study, and all five seats on it, would be on the November ballot if the council follows through on Wednesday’s informal vote. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

[Updated to include borough attorney memo on charter review timeline.]

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank’s council informally agreed Wednesday night to have voters decide whether the borough’s form of government should be reviewed for possible overhaul.

The unanimous action by the council, all Democrats, could eventually lead to nonpartisan elections, watering down the party’s long dominance of municipal government.

Read More »

RED BANK: COUNCIL TO HIRE SEARCH FIRM

Borough hall remains closed due to the pandemic, so the council will meet again via Zoom. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njThe Red Bank council will officially start the search for a new borough administrator when it meets this week.

Not on the agenda: a measure to authorize a charter study to review the form of government in place here since 1908.

Read More »

RED BANK: DEMS’ INFIGHTING ESCALATES

Ed Zipprich, left, with husband J.P. Nicolaides holding a Bible, recites the oath of office in January, 2018. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

With nine weeks to go in a rare primary race for Red Bank council, a civil war within the Democratic party intensified this week. Read More »

RED BANK: DEMS CALL FOR CHARTER STUDY

Kathy Horgan with fellow Democrats and council members Ed Zipprich, center, and Michael Ballard in 2017. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Again taking aim at their own party’s chairman, four Red Bank council members and Mayor Pasquale Menna have called for a charter study to review the borough’s form of government – and possibly, change the electoral process.

Read More »

RED BANK: STILL NO MOVEMENT ON REFORM

Mayor Pasquale Menna speaking with activist Ben Forest in 2019. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank nj

Nearly three years after they briefly moved to the fore, calls to reform Red Bank’s government and electoral process have yet to yield noticeable results.

Read More »

RED BANK: NONPARTISAN ELECTIONS? NOT YET

red bank scott broschart 083120.jpgRed Bank First leader Scott Broschart at home on Hudson Avenue in August. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank nj

Scott Broschart is on a one-man quest to reform both Red Bank’s government and how people get elected to it.

Neither will happen this year. A referendum Broschart has been pushing for since July is not on the November 3 ballot. But Broschart says he’s perfectly fine with that.

Read More »

RED BANK: NONPARTISAN ELECTIONS? NOT YET.

Mike Whelan, center, and Mark Taylor, seen here on the night of their election to the Red Bank council in 2015, spearheaded the referendum effort.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank voters eager to eliminate partisanship from local elections and governance won’t get their wish this year.

A referendum initiative calling for non-partisan elections and a change to the form of local government lost steam over the summer and won’t be on November’s ballot. But its foremost advocates say they’re not giving up.

Read More »

RED BANK: NONPARTISAN DRIVE UNDERWAY

Council members Mike Whelan, in white shirt, and Mark Taylor at the Red Bank First kickoff Tuesday night at Red Rock Tap + Grill.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Hoping to bust through what they see as political gridlock, two lame-duck Red Bank council members kicked off a petition effort Tuesday night to change both the borough’s form of government and the way in which its officials are elected.

Read More »

RED BANK: NONPARTISAN DRIVE TO KICK OFF

Red Bank’s ballots would be free of party lines if a push for nonpartisan elections succeeds.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

To spark debate over whether to make Red Bank’s elections nonpartisan, two lame-duck council members have slated a public-welcome event at a downtown bar next week.

On the agenda: policy discussion, a petition, plus complimentary food and drink.

Read More »

RED BANK: STATE UPHOLDS CHARTER RENEWAL

The charter school’s main building, on Oakland Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The Red Bank Charter School does not engage in “segregative” enrollment practices, the New Jersey Department of Education ruled last week in upholding the school’s latest five-year operating charter.

In letter dated April 16 to the charter school, Acting Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet rejected assertions of bias by Fair Schools Red Bank and the Latino Coalition of New Jersey, and found instead that the charter school “is seeking, ‘to the maximum extent practicable,’ to enroll a cross-section of Red Bank Borough’s school-age population.”

Read More »

RED BANK: CHARTER RESCHEDULES LOTTERY

[UPDATE, January 8, 2018: The enrollment lottery addressed in the announcement below has been rescheduled for 10 a.m., Saturday, February 10, with the application deadline now set at 4 p.m. February 9.]

(Press release from the Red Bank Charter Schoo)

Red Bank Charter School (RBCS), a high-achieving, racially and ethnically integrated, tuition-free preK-8 public school, has announced that the deadline for Red Bank families to submit an application for the 2018-19 school year is 4 p.m. on January 10, 2018.

Read More »

RED BANK: INKY PROBES SEGREGATION CLAIMS

The Red Bank Charter School on Oakland Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Is the Red bank school district segregated? And if so, is the Red Bank Charter School at fault?

An article published Thursday on philly.com, the online version of the Philadelphia Inquirer, probes that question, and whether others among New Jersey’s 88 charter schools are also segregated.

Read More »

RED BANK: CHARTER SCHOOL WINS GYM OK

A rendering of the proposed charter school gym, which wouldn’t have room for bleachers, an architect said. (Rendering by Erick Wagner. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The Red Bank Charter School won approval Thursday night to create a gym in part of a commercial building it plans to buy on Monmouth Street.

In the process, the zoning board hearing on the plan re-exposed some long-simmering resentments harbored by parents who contend the charter school’s existence is a drain on the local school district.

Read More »

RED BANK: CHARTER, RAYRAP ON AGENDA

A view of 135-137 Monmouth Street as seen through windows at the Red Bank Charter School, its prospective next owner. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The Red Bank zoning board this week takes up two projects that have generated heat in the past, one involving the Red Bank Charter School and the other a townhouse plan by builder Ray Rapcavage.

Read More »

RED BANK: CHARTER DATA RELEASE ORDERED

Judy DeHaven, below, claims the Red Bank Charter School “continues to operate without transparency or accountability.” (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The New Jersey Government Records Council earlier this week ordered the Red Bank Charter School to release demographic data it failed to provide to a borough resident under an Open Public Records Act request.

The state agency, acting on a complaint filed by Judy DeHaven, found on Tuesday that the school had unlawfully withheld data showing the breakdown of the student population by grade, gender, race, ethnicity and other factors.

Read More »

RED BANK: CHARTER SCHOOL TO BUY BUILDING

The building, in which the charter school now rents space, has several commercial tenants, and another slated to take the retail space formerly leased by Prown’s Home Improvements. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The Red Bank Charter School plans to buy a commercial building that adjoins its Oakland Street home under a plan approved by the school’s board of trustees Tuesday night.

Read More »

RED BANK: ACLU ENTERS CHARTER BATTLE

CPA Scott Landau turns a drum as business administrator Theresa Shirley looks on during the charter school enrollment lottery last April. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The American Civil Liberties Union has joined two other organizations already waging war on the Red Bank Charter School‘s existence.

The ACLU of New Jesey said Thursday that, along with Fair Schools Red Bank and the Latino Coalition of New Jersey , it would appeal the state Department of Education’s decision earlier this week to allow the 19-year-old school to operate for at least another five years.

Read More »

RED BANK: CHARTER WINS FIVE MORE YEARS

The Red Bank Charter School campus on Oakland Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The Red Bank Charter School is good to go for at least another five years, following an extension of its operating charter announced Wednesday night.

The generally expected renewal comes amid an upswell of tension over the school’s existence, in the form of a pending claim of segregation.

Read More »

RED BANK: FEDS TAKE ON ‘SEGREGATION’ CASE

The Red Bank Charter School, on Oakland Street, hotly disputes allegations that the borough schools are “segregated” as a result of its enrollment practices. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03As requested three months ago by two advocacy groups, the federal Justice Education Department is investigating allegations of segregation leveled at the Red Bank Charter School, correspondence obtained by redbankgreen on Tuesday showed.

The decision by the department’s Office of Civil Rights to open an investigation “in no way implies that the OCR has made a determination with regard to its merit,” a government letter to the complainants said.

But the revelation set off a fresh round of sniping in a bitter battle over the charter school’s existence.

Read More »

RED BANK: CHARTER FOES ALLEGE FALSE DATA

rbcs graduation 061516 2Attendees at the charter school’s graduation ceremony in Riverside Gardens Park last June. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The 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.

Read More »

RED BANK: DISTRICT CALLS FOR CHARTER END

rbcs 032216 2The charter school’s five-year renewal request is pending with the state Department of Education. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The Red Bank school district has quietly but officially called for the non-renewal of the Red Bank Charter School‘s official sanction, district Superintendent Jared Rumage confirmed Tuesday.

In an October 13 letter to the New Jersey Department of Education, Rumage told acting Commissioner Kimberley Harrington that the existence of the charter school “greatly inhibits the ability of our schools to meet our goals” and imposes an “unfair financial burden” on both borough and state taxpayers.

Read More »

RED BANK: P.R. BATTLE OVER CHARTER SCHOOL

rbcs 032216 2The charter school’s five-year renewal request is pending with the state Department of Education. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The two sides in the recently renewed tussle over the future of the Red Bank Charter School crossed swords in the form of press releases Monday.

First, the Latino Coalition of New Jersey issued a release decrying the school’s use of nearly $40,000 to pay an outside firm for public relations.

That was followed by a press release, issued by that firm on the school’s behalf, questioning the coalition’s standing.

Read More »

RED BANK: CHARTER FOES CLAIM BROAD BASE

rbms 121715 1A rally at the Red Bank Middle School last December, shortly after the charter school announced its proposed expansion plan, drew a standing-room-only crowd. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Who’s behind the Civil Rights complaint against the Red Bank Charter School filed with the Justice Department earlier this week?

According to charter school Superintendent Meredith Pennotti, it’s a “small group that seems bent on further dividing the community” with a complaint that she called “meritless.”

Read More »

RED BANK: GROUPS SEEK FEDS PROBE OF CHARTER SCHOOL FOR STUDENT ‘SEGREGATION’

rbcs graduation 061516 1Charter school Superintendent Meredith Pennotti speaking at the school’s eighth-grade graduation ceremony in Riverside Gardens Park in June. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

[NOTE: This post was updated to include a prepared statement from charter school Superintendent Pennotti.]

By JOHN T. WARD

just_in1A group of parents and Latino rights advocates have asked the federal Justice Department to “investigate and ultimately remedy” enrollment and funding practices at the Red Bank Charter School that they claim make the borough’s public schools the “most segregated” in New Jersey.

In documents released Tuesday, the Latino Coalition of New Jersey and the newly formed Fair Schools Red Bank claim the school and the administration of Governor Chris Christie have violated the civil rights of borough students by failing to address ethnic, socio-econonic and fiscal disparities between the charter school and the public school district from which it was carved out 18 years ago.

Read More »