Today’s New Jersey Supreme Court decision affirms the fundamental responsibility of the Commissioner of Education to evaluate and address racial segregation and the segregation of students with disabilities and English learner students in the implementation of New Jersey’s charter school program from the initial application to open a new charter school, to applications to renew or expand an existing school, and on an annual basis.
The Court found that the Commissioner, in deciding the requests of charter schools to expand in Newark in 2016, violated his obligation to determine if expansions would have a segregative effect on the Newark district by race, disability and language proficiency status. The Court held the Commissioner’s decisions approving the expansions “deficient.”
The Court also affirmed its decision in the 2000 Englewood case, noting that districts have the right to come forward and demonstrate the fiscal impact of opening or expanding charter schools on the district’s students and schools. However, the Court was unwilling to require the Commissioner to review data on fiscal impacts submitted by ELC, even though the district at the time was under State control.
This ruling now puts the Commissioner on firm and clear notice of the State’s constitutional obligation, on an ongoing basis, to evaluate the impact of charter schools on student segregation and take action to remedy those impacts. ELC stands ready to continue to hold the Commissioner accountable for fulfilling this obligation. ELC will also step up its efforts to work with district officials across the state to ensure they understand their responsibility to bring forward evidence of the fiscal impacts of charter schools and provide them with the tools they need to analyze and make public those impacts.
More information about the TEAM Academy case is available here.
Policy and Outreach Director
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Director of Policy, Strategic Partnerships and Communications