MONTCLAIR, NJ - New Jersey Department of Education Acting Commissioner Kimberley Harrington has denied the Montclair Charter School application.
In a letter sent to Montclair Charter School lead founder Darryle Bogan on Friday, Harrington stated that the decision to deny "...was based on the deficiencies identified during the charter school application evaluation process."
For several months, mounting pressure has grown from community stakeholders for NJDOE officials to deny the charter school application. Superintendent of Schools Ronald Bolandi, Montclair Board of Education members, Mayor Robert Jackson, Township Council members and numerous state and county elected officials had teamed up with parents to oppose the charter school. Parents and community leaders hosted a rally, spoke at state Board of Education meetings, signed petitions, sent letters and made phone calls to voice their concerns. Local experts had even cited safety concerns with the location of the meeting.
Sentaror Nia Gill said the following in a statement, “This decision is good news for the residents and taxpayers of Montclair. I want to thank the entire Montclair community for their grassroots activism and for helping to educate the public on this important issue. Today’s announcement proves that when parents and school officials stand together, public education will succeed."
Gill went further to speak of the desegregation of Montclair Public Schools, which was what most of the charter school opposition cited as reason for not wanting to have a charter school in Montclair.
Gill added, “Montclair voluntarily desegregated its schools in the 1970s and initiated one of the original school choice programs in the state. If approved, the French immersion charter school would have potentially reversed over 40 years of progress and would have diverted millions of dollars from the public school system, negatively impacting the delivery of education to our children."
Gill thanked Commissioner David Hespe for meeting with Montclair leaders and hearing the concerns of the community. She concluded, "I want to thank Commissioner Hespe for taking the time to meet with us on this issue and the department for understanding the potential impact it would have had on the township.”
Now that they have been successful in overturning the decision, parents have taken to social media to rejoice.
Some of the most vocal parents have expressed their joy at the NJDOE's decision to deny the application. Sarah Tepper Blaine and Colleen Martinez are among hundreds of Montclair parents who have spoken out against the charter school from the beginning.
Blaine said, "Today is a happy day. Thank you to the entire Montclair community, which united around this issue and expressed its opposition with a single voice."
She went further to express how proud she is that the community has collectively made this happen. "I couldn't be prouder of Montclair -- together, we made this happen."
Blaine has even gone further to express that no community in New Jersey should have to have a charter school without community support behind it. She added, "Next up: ensuring that all New Jersey students have access to the same level of high quality public education we offer in Montclair, and in particular, to making sure that NO community in New Jersey, regardless of its demographics, has a charter school forced upon it in opposition to the community's wishes."
Martinez said, "I am so very pleased with NJDOE's decision to reject the charter application."
"Over the past few months it has become very clear that Montclair residents support Montclair Public Schools and do not believe that a charter school is needed here. It has been amazing to see our community come together so strongly in this effort, and I look forward to all of us continuing to work together for the benefit of all children in Montclair, and for our public schools," she added.
For a link to the letter, click here.