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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APPLY NOW, FOR RED BANK CHARTER 2017-18

Press release from Red Bank Charter School

With a little more than two weeks to go, Red Bank Charter School, a high-achieving, racially and ethnically integrated, tuition-free preK-8 public school, is encouraging Red Bank families to submit an application for the 2017-18 school year by noon on March 29, 2017.

Admission to Red Bank Charter School is open to all children who live in Red Bank. There is no test required for admission. The school offers a weighted lottery designed to increase the chances that children from low-income families can attend the school.

Since there are a limited number of openings at the school, a random lottery will be held on March 30 at 7 p.m. to select students.  Children who were not selected in the lottery are invited to be placed on a waiting list for admission to the school. The school is presently filled to capacity, with more than 100 students on the waiting list.

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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: CHARTER KIDS MARCH FOR MLK

RBCS-MLK800pxPress release from Red Bank Charter School

Students at Red Bank Charter School took to the streets last Monday, January 16, carrying signs while marching through the community to mark the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday. The exercise was part of a series of events held at the school on Martin Luther King Day, to teach students about the legacy of the slain civil rights leader.

The day began with teachers in every classroom handing out bagels to students, an exercise designed to create fellowship among students. Students also created a CNN-like news program in which they produced segments about the Dr. King, the Taliban, the Dakota Access Pipeline and the controversy over their own school.

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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 CHARTER STEM PROGRAM SETS SAIL

RBCS summer STEMPress release from Red Bank Charter School

Jayshawn Banks, an eighth grade student at Red Bank Middle School, peeks above the top of his laptop — just enough time to compare the sailboat blueprint he’s developing on his screen with the real dinghy that is being assembled just a few feet away.

Jayshawn’s classmate, Shelly Vasquez, a seventh grader at Red Bank Charter School, does the same. Both are intent on the task at hand: to build a sailboat. And while both students know they can get quick answers from their teachers in the room, they remain steadfastly independent, choosing to work with their peers instead.

“We feel like architects,” Jayshawn said. “And when we run into problems, we know we can ask the teacher, but we’d rather figure it out ourselves.”

This balance of independence and collaboration is a hallmark of the five-week RBCS Summer Institute, available to all elementary school-aged children.

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Y HELPS RED BANK KIDS GET IN THE SWIM

CYMC swim Casey MansfieldCommunity YMCA swim instructor Casey Mansfield (above right) helped third graders from Red Bank schools feels safe and comfortable in the water, including Madeline Ortiz-Morales of Red Bank Primary School (above) and Christopher Hernandez of Red Bank Charter School (below).

Press release from The Community YMCA 
CYMCA swim
Third grade students of Red Bank Primary School and Red Bank Charter School gained valuable swimming and water safety skills in the annual Third Grade Swim program, presented by The Community YMCA.

The water safety initiative, which concluded this week, was developed to give all third graders the opportunity for no-cost swimming and water safety lessons as part of their school day. The Third Grade Swim program began in 2011, and has helped approximately 600 children learn how to be safe in and around water. This year’s program included four 45-minute swim lessons covering basic stroke development, paddling, treading and floating skills.

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RED BANK CHARTER OFFERS SUMMER PROGRAM

RBCS waterfallExcursions to the area’s natural attractions offer opportunities for art and science-based learning activities, during Red Bank Charter School’s Summer Institute programs for grade levels 1 through 8.

Press release from Red Bank Charter School

RBCS painting on beachResearch has shown that summer months create a lapse in learning, and family socioeconomic status (SES) is highly correlated to the level of academic growth or decline over the summer. Two-thirds of the academic achievement gap in reading and language found among high school students has been explained through the learning loss that occurs during the summer months of the primary school years.

With that in mind, Red Bank Charter School has announced a wrap-around STEM-based curriculum for their Summer Institute program. Offered from July 5 to August 5 and divided into two grade level-based groups (grades 1-4, grades 5-8), the summertime activities are available both to current RBCS students and to non-students.

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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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