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In re Renewal Application of TEAM Academy Charter School Overview

In re Renewal Application of TEAM Academy Charter School is the lead case among seven consolidated appeals, brought by ELC on behalf of the Abbott v. Burke schoolchildren, challenging 2016 decisions by the NJ Commissioner of Education granting enrollment expansion in seven Newark charter schools. The cumulative effect of the decisions is to permit the significant and rapid growth of the Newark charter school population, while substantially decreasing the amount of money available to serve students in district schools and increasing the segregation of at-risk children within the district’s schools, as well as racial segregation within the charter schools.

ELC is pursuing these appeals with the pro bono assistance of the Pashman Stein Walder Hayden law firm. 

In April 2016, ELC filed a motion to pursue one appeal seeking reversal of all seven charter expansion decisions because they raised the same, cumulative factual and legal issues. The motion was denied by the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, but the Court accepted seven separate appeals and subsequently granted Appellants’ motion to consolidate those appeals. Cross-motions to dismiss and to strike, filed respectively by the NJ Department of Education and TEAM Academy, were denied by the Court.

ELC filed its opening brief in February 2017, arguing that the Commissioner violated both constitutional and statutory obligations to Newark public school children by approving the charter schools’ expansion requests without evaluating and assessing the impact of the loss of funding and resources in the district schools and the segregative effect expansion would have on the district population.

Appellants pointed to the research submitted to the Commissioner on the applications, which included: 1) increasing payments to charter schools from the district budget over the last five years; 2) severe cuts to essential staff and services in district schools; 3) an increase in the numbers of students with disabilities and English Language Learners served by the district; and 4) an intensification of the racial segregation existing in the charter schools. The State and charter school Respondents both sought extended time to file their opposition briefs, which are currently expected to be filed in mid-May 2017.