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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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RED BANK: CHARTER CLAIMS NO ‘SEGREGATION’

rbcs 032216 5A five-year renewal of the Red Bank Charter School charter is pending before state education officials. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

[See update, below]

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Red Bank Charter School Superintendent Meredith Pennotti went on the offensive Thursday, blasting critics who claim the publicly funded alternate school is responsible for “segregation” of school-aged children in the borough.

In an opinion piece published by the Asbury Park Press’ app.com, Pennotti took aim at what she calls “the same small but vocal group in town” that “kicks into high gear in an effort to shut us down” when the school comes up for renewal every five years, as it has this year.

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RED BANK: A WEIGHTED LOTTERY, AND A WAIT

rbcs lottery 042816 2CPA Scott Landau holds a ball he drew from a rotating drum as charter school business administrator Theresa Shirley records its number Thursday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03For the first time in its 17-year history, the Red Bank Charter School conducted a lottery engineered to give socioeconomically disadvantaged children a better shot at winning seats Thursday night.

But for parents hoping to enroll their children, the so-called weighted lottery, meant to address a lack of diversity that critics contend make Red Bank the “most segregated school district in the state of New Jersey,” now gives way to another kind of wait.

That’s because, in effect, there are no openings.

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RED BANK: WEIGHTED CHARTER LOTTERY OK’D

rbcs 032216 1The lottery drawing is scheduled for April 28 at the charter school, on Oakland Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Though its highly controversial proposal to double enrollment was rejected, the Red Bank Charter School has won state approval to conduct a weighted entrance lottery.

Charter school Superintendent and Principal Meredith Pennotti confirmed Tuesday that New Jersey Education Commissioner David Hespe had reversed course on one aspect of his February 29 decision and approved the use of a lottery structured to give socio-economically disadvantaged kids better odds of joining the 200-student school.

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RED BANK: PLAN TESTED DISTRICT’S METTLE

rbms 121715 3Red Bank Superintendent Jared Rumage addressing a packed middle school rally opposing the charter school plan on December 17. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_02In nearly every public utterance throughout the three-month battle over a proposed Red Bank Charter School expansion, borough schools Superintendent Jared Rumage said he welcomed the chance to talk about the district as it exists today, not as it was a generation ago.

His goal wasn’t simply to rebut what he called “fiction” in the charter school’s projections about the financial impact on the host district. Just as much, Rumage said, was the need to answer what he consider a baseless slap at the district. Read More »

RED BANK: STATE DENIES CHARTER EXPANSION

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)

By JOHN T. WARD
just_in

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.

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RED BANK: RUMAGE REFUTES CHARTER DATA

rbcs rumage slides 012216 1Superintendent Jared Rumage speaking at the middle school in January. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_02Red Bank borough schools Superintendent Jared Rumage calls data in a recent mailing to borough residents by the Red Bank Charter School “fiction.”

The flyer, which purports to show that the charter school’s impact on local taxes is light and getting lighter, also includes figures that “are different from those previously shared by the Charter School when making the same argument,” Rumage wrote in a letter posted on the borough schools website Monday.

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RED BANK: CHARTER PRESIDENT RESIGNS

janice havay 022316Janice Havay at the charter school following acceptance of her resignation Tuesday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD
HOT-TOPIC_03

In the midst of a highly contentious expansion proposal, the president of the Red Bank Charter School board of trustees has resigned.

Janice Havay, who served as board president since mid-2014, cited “expanding work responsibilities” and family obligations in a resignation letter that was dated February 4 and accepted by the board at its regular monthly meeting Tuesday night.

Havay declined to comment on whether she had misgivings about either the expansion plan, which would double enrollment over three years to 400 students, or its rollout, which has been widely criticized.

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RED BANK: O’SCANLON OPPOSES CHARTER PLAN

rbcs 021016O’Scanlon says underfunding of the local school district should be “preemptively disqualifying” of the proposed charter school expansion. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_02New Jersey Assemblyman and self-described school-choice supporter Declan O’Scanlon calls the proposed expansion of the Red Bank Charter School “ill-informed” and says it should be rejected.

In what he calls a “data-driven” analysis of the plan, O’Scanlon calls on state Education Commissioner David Hespe to deny the request, and adds that he would “question” the merits of the proposal even if, as other critics have demanded, the state fully funds the local school district from which the charter school sprang 17 years ago.

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RED BANK: MORE FUNDS COMING, SAYS BECK

jen beck 012216 5Senator Jen Beck addressing a hearing on the charter school proposal at the Red Bank Middle School last month. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The Red Bank school district can expect additional funding from Trenton under the latest Christie Administration budget, state Senator Jen Beck said Tuesday afternoon.

How much? It’s unclear, but it won’t be enough to offset the “devastating” impact that a proposed doubling of enrollment by the
Red Bank Charter School
 would have on the district, Beck told redbankgreen.

Morevover, Red Bank won’t be sharing in a new pot of money created by the administration to help districts that host charter schools shoulder costs, Beck said.
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