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Hatikvah School Exceeds Permitted Enrollment

The township Department of Planning and Engineering has notified the school that it is in violation of rules set by a use variance granted in 2011.

The Hatikvah International Academy Charter School may have another issue to deal with.

On Tuesday, Sept. 11,  Gregory Potkulski, director of the township Department of Planning and Engineering, sent the school a letter stating that its enrollment currently exceeds the limit set in a use variance granted the school on July 7, 2011.

“Testimony presented at the hearing indicated that total school enrollment would be limited to no more than 152 students,” state the letter. “Therefore, because total enrollment now exceeds that number, the applicant and property owner are in violation of the terms of the approval, and as a result, are in violation of the Township's land-use ordinance," said the letter.

“If the violation is not cured within 20 days of the date of this letter, the Township of East Brunswick reserves the right to take appropriate legal action that may include filing a complaint in municipal court, seeking injunctive relief, and/or seeking any other relief available under law," the letter continued.

Dan Gerstein, spokesman for Hatikvah, issued the following statement:

“The school is are aware of the concern and is reviewing the approved plans with the township's engineer to determine if any modifications are necessary."

Gerstein did not comment on the school's current enrollment.

According to the letter, the East Brunswick Zoning Board of Adjustment granted a use variance, as well as related bulk variances, to operate the school at 367 Cranbury Road. The area is a C-1 Professional Office District. The letter was sent to the school to notify it that it is in violation of the terms of that approval and to demand that the violations be fixed immediately.

On Tuesday, Potkulski said he had not been contacted by the school yet.

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Michael Hill Goldstein September 28, 2012 at 08:14 PM
na, The parents of the students of Hatikvah are taxpayers as well. They just want choice, accountability and a different type of education for their children. Not everyone in America wants the exact same things for their children that is what vouchers and charter schools are all about. Freedom and you rability to say where your tax dollars go. That is the American way.
Stacy September 28, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Hatikvah is NOT in violation of the variance. From a letter from the Principal, "The Board of Trustees and I are confident that we have not violated the variance. The variance clearly states our enrollment for the previous school year (2011-2012) and states that we grow by 44 students each year. It also states that we will have two third grade classrooms consisting of 22 students each in the trailers this year which we do. It does not state our 2012-2013 total school enrollment." Also, Hatikvah is not just about Hebrew. I chose it for my child because of the Inquiry Based philosophy. The Hebrew is just a bonus. I wouldn't have cared what language they are teaching, or no second language (although learning any second language has been shown to be beneficial) BTW - I am also a teacher and a union member and I do NOT find any conflict with sending my child to a charter school if it meets our needs. I would like to see charter school employees have the right to organize, as I would advocate for the employees in any industry but I don't see these issues as connected. There are many students who are not Jewish, and the thinly veiled anti-Semitism often seen in the comments on these articles is very offensive.
Anne September 28, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Stacy, this isn't the first time the school has LIED to parents or perspective parents. Eventually they will get caught. In fact, by clicking on your name, I can see you were one of the people in another post perpetuating the lie about the school moving by September. So, I know you are aware of it and you should really take a look at your conscience. I called the planning department back in July, at the recommendation in your post and they said the earliest the school would be there is January. You are either in on it or you are one of the parents who believes the stories they feed you. I feel bad for the children of the parents that fall for this stuff, because it is really not their fault. I was at the open house where they showed everyone the blueprints for the next school year and I almost fell for it myself.
Myrna September 28, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Michael, Only in recent years is this the American way. Charter schools began as an experiment to offer an alternative to public schools which failed to educate their children, not schools which failed to offer certain languages or programs which some parents desired. The parents of children who attend religious schools also pay taxes, but their school tuition is not subsidized by taxpayers...at least not yet. But that seems to be the direction your arguments about freedom and choice and the American way are taking us. And this line of thinking - vouchers-will inevitably allow private corporations and their for- profit chains of schools to get their hands on the goldmine of taxpayer money to the detriment of our public school system and most of our children.. Michael, I believe you when you say that Hatikvah offers your child a wonderful educational experience. But voting is also the American way. And in the future I hope to have the opportunity to vote "no" on the issue whether public school funds can be diverted to subsidize private schools, religious schools, and charter schools.
Stacy September 28, 2012 at 09:33 PM
When I said they were moving then, I did believe it. I know that anytime there are big projects like this, there are often delays. I am disappointed by them. I was hoping the school would be able to move by November. I don't know if the people challenging this are responsible (even in part) for the delays, but it is frustrating when our own neighbors are possibly making this take longer. I don't think they are lying to us, but I hope the renovations to the building will be done in a reasonable amount of time.
Stacy September 28, 2012 at 09:42 PM
Oh, and Anne - I looked back at the thread you were referring to. Just so you know (because it is hard to tell) the first comment was from another Stacy who also has a daughter in my daughter's class. All I said was that there was nothing in the article, at that time, that indicated the change in the opening date. Since they let people have the same log in name, it is sometimes hard to tell who is talking - although I do agree with everything the other Stacy said about the school staying in regular contact with the parents whenever there is new information.
Anne September 28, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Stacy, I am sorry I confused you with the other Stacy. I do encourage you to dig around a bit, because if you make a minimal effort to call more regulated sources of information, you will find out that the school is not very honest. I did. After the open house, I was 50/50 on the school. After I was told that the attorney at the hearing said the school would not move by the start of the year, I called the school and was told the opposite. I'm sure the principal has told you everything will be okay with this facility but perhaps you should check some credible sources for yourself.
Liti Haramaty September 28, 2012 at 11:00 PM
Hevrew as a bonus? Wouldn't you rather your children study a useful language that will help them later in life? Unless of course they are planing to live in Israel, where it is quite good to be able to speak this language. The phrase "thinly veiled" was used twice in the comments - once for: "segregated school using public funds for its operation" and a second time for "anti-Semitism often seen in the comments". Is there a doubt in anyone's mind that this was not founded as a segregated school for Jewish kids who would otherwise attend private schools? Just go back and read some of the comments at the time the school was proposed. "As a parent of two children who attended the Solomon Schechter Day School of Raritan Valley in East Brunswick... ...but in these economic times not everyone is lucky enough to be able to afford it" "I believe that a charter school can alleviate the need to pay tuition" (http://njjewishnews.com/justASC/2009/09/23/nj-approves-hebrew-language-charter-school/#comment-17218). Anti-Semitism? As one of the very few people who openly opposed the school from the beginning I am personally offended by this comment. Not really. It actually makes me laugh. Hatikva administrators and representative continue to deceive the town, and take advantage of the taxpayer in East Brunswick and other towns their students come from.
Stacy September 28, 2012 at 11:18 PM
It's understandable about the confusion. It is odd that they permit more than one person to have the same "name". I really do appreciate your concern, but I have been very happy with the education my daughter is receiving. The teachers have been wonderful and my daughter is excelling. There is a new principal this year with excellent credentials, and I have really high hopes. I really don't think anyone is being deliberately dishonest, maybe just overly optimistic. You are at least the most genuine person I have seen on here. You seem actually concerned, not hateful like some others.
Stacy September 28, 2012 at 11:25 PM
Liti - Research has shown that learning ANY second language has benefits, but as I stated, the language is NOT why I chose the school. I am a strong believer in inquiry based or problem based learning. I did not see enough of this going on in the East Brunswick school my children were attending, so that was my main motivation. As for the phrase thinly-veiled, my use of it was intentional - echoing the other previous use of it. If another parent commented that THEIR reason for choosing Hatikvah was because they could not afford a school like Schechter, then that is THEIR choice. It had no bearing on mine. If you were to see the school in action, you would see that it is like a "mini united nations". There are children of many races and religions. I think it is a good cross section of our community, and I love the diversity. I'm sorry if you were offended. While not everyone opposed to Hatikvah is anti-Semitic, it is true that many comments posted here are.
Anne September 28, 2012 at 11:46 PM
Stacy, with all due respect there is a difference between optimism and outright deception. After what I was told by the school administrator and then a board member, it was like talking to a used car salesperson. Anyway, what happens if this letter you posted turns out to be just another attempt to smooth things out with parents? Also, don't you find it a little odd that they have another new principal already? What is going on over there?
Stacy September 29, 2012 at 12:05 AM
It is very unfortunate but Principal Drewitz had some health issues that caused her departure.
Slav B. Shuravesky September 29, 2012 at 02:30 PM
I was waiting to be accused of anti-semitism. I happen to be Jewish. My son is attending Hebrew school (that I pay for). Hatikvah for all practical purposes is a segregated school and a handful of token non-Jews attending it (how many, by the way?) is not going to change that.
Slav B. Shuravesky September 29, 2012 at 02:36 PM
I was waiting to be accused of anti-semitism! I happen to be Jewish. My son is attending Hebrew school (that I pay for). Hatikvah for all practical purposes is a segregated school and a handful of token non-Jews attending it (how many, by the way?) is not going to change that. I oppose to diverting funds from our blue ribbon school system - that was the main reason I opted to move to EB in the first place - to subsidize this shameful enterprise.
Michael Hill Goldstein September 29, 2012 at 05:13 PM
This new film says it all-"Won't Back Down" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvYPxZpstkE
Rob September 29, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Wow, that's pretty bad. I'm supposed to see a resemblance between your constant banter and propaganda and a movie about a woman who is poor and has a learning disabled kid so she wants to help a charter. Excellent. Why don't you just link to a clip of Braveheart where Mel Gibson screams about not taking his freedom? Because when I think East Brunswick and Hatikvah, I definitely think of poor kids who slip through the cracks. Good job.
Freddy September 29, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Now you're pushing ALEC propaganda? Now it all makes sense. I couldn't figure out why this crazy person has been spending so much time posting here. Are you the same Michael Hill Goldstein who is the face of a paid $6.5 Million smear campaign? The same one who the Washington Post fact-checked and basically determined to be a LIAR? http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/an-anti-obama-ad-featuring-a-jewish-democrat/2012/07/26/gJQA2h1hCX_blog.html
Rob September 29, 2012 at 10:51 PM
I think Freddy's link is much better...also much more important than a link to a movie that is getting crappy reviews and is "inspired by" true events (that means it didn't really happen, but the movie took liberties to REALLY alter many events). So, yeah Michael, you're right....the new film says it all and the fact that you're using that as the poster child for your argument I think says even more.
Myrna September 30, 2012 at 04:58 AM
Ah Hah! Thank you Freddy. Our Mr Goldstein has been outed! He posts at length about The American Way. But he supports the election of Romney- the candidate who has promised to cut more taxes for the rich, turn Medicare into Vouchercare, privatize Social Security- a man who in his own words has shown contempt for 47% of the American public...seniors, veterans, the disabled, students. Is it the American way when Mr Romney avoids taxes by stashing money offshore? The problem with Obama? Mr G is upset because the President has failed to show "proper respect" for the prime minister of a foreign country (Netanyahu). Perhaps President Obama is putting the interests of of America first. Now that's the American way!
Michael Hill Goldstein September 30, 2012 at 11:58 AM
I am for choice- Vouchers, Charters, teachers, administrators, a non-socialist nation,- a nation where Americans can make decisions for themselves and do not have to have the Government over them telling them what to do. Sort of like the writers of the US Constitution wanted. Not for name calling and hatred as the prior posters seem to be for. I am for a proud, brave America not the one where we fear individuals who will stop Free Speech by litigation, or spy on other people, or drown out mothers and fathers who want what's best for children by protecting antiquated systems that no longer work. In Illinois more money will be spent by the State funding the pension plans of teachers in 2016 than will go to schools and children. In New Jersey in 2018 the same thing will happen. This is your America- not mine.
Michael Hill Goldstein September 30, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Freddy- You are the one who appears quite delusional and insane. If you read Mr. Kessler in the Washington Post a very liberal paper mind you- he appears to agree with everything I say although through a liberal bias. Maybe you need to go back to school and learn reading comprehension again. I can suggest some good charter schools for you to attend. Nothing in the commercial is a lie or even close. he may not agree with my opinions but Freddy that is quite a different thing than lying. I suggest you go to the dictionary to comprehend the definition of the word lie. All the best- Romney 2012.
Michael Hill Goldstein September 30, 2012 at 12:15 PM
For Myrna- the self hater. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgvMGLdc908&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Paul Gottlieb September 30, 2012 at 02:30 PM
I've been following Michael Hill Goldstein's comments with increasing bewilderment. His blatant mis-telling of American history ("Choice" is not an American educational tradition--publicly funded schools open to all Americans is), his weird insistence that the President of the United States should genuflect to the corrupt Prime Minister of a small Middle-Eastern country, and his increasingly desperate debating tactics, including calling everyone with a Jewish-sounding name who disagrees with him "self-hating." But with his last few posts Mr. Goldstein has made the situation clear: He is simply a shill for the Romney campaign--nothing less, and certainly nothing more. Like his idol, Bibi Netanyahu, and unlike the vast majority of American Jews, Mr. Goldstein has made a big bet on the wrong (dressage) horse, and the prospect of upcoming defeat has made him more desperate and intemperate.
Rob September 30, 2012 at 02:43 PM
I thought Michael Hill Goldstein lost a lot of credibility after he had been seriously carpetbombing every article on Patch about Hatikvah with criticisms of anybody who would oppose the school while just doing essentially the same thing for the minority pro-Hatikvah crowd. I guess the door only swings one way in his house. I think he just blew up the remaining bit of his credibility when he acknowledged he's the guy in Freddy's video who is all about political propaganda and clearly not just supporting one side, but has invested himself in the agenda. It's even more funny that in the last article about a couple of women raising issues with Hatikvah, he called them political shills for the union and public schools and wanted their background exposed on the website, but it took another smart poster like Freddy to bring out his political motives and agendas. HYPOCRITE!
Stacy September 30, 2012 at 04:31 PM
The issue I have is that no matter what the school does, no one is happy. When people thought enrollment was too low, they sued. Now they think enrollment is too high, so they are suing. They don't like the school being in its current location, so they sue. They don't want the school to move to a new location, so they are suing. They don't want too many kids from East Brunswick to go there. Now they complain there are too many out of towners going. It is bewildering why so many people who have no interest in sending their children to this school are investing so much time and energy in fighting it. Can't you just accept that what is right for some people is not right for everyone and make your own choice and move on?
Liti Haramaty September 30, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Some people are very happy - instead of paying for either private school or Hebrew lessons the got the rest of us to pay for them. Those of us who pay are not happy.
Stacy September 30, 2012 at 05:04 PM
This is NOT instead of Hebrew School. My daughter still attends religious school for her Jewish education. There is NO religious education of any kind at Hatikvah. I do not know why people cannot seem to understand this. I still pay plenty for her Jewish education. This is PUBLIC school for secular education where they happen to have Hebrew Language instruction. Why is this considered different than a school that teaches Spanish, French, German, Chinese or any other language??
Liti Haramaty September 30, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Chinese and the other languages you mention are spoken by many millions of people around the world and knowing any of them is an asset to anyone. Hebrew is spoken by only about 7 million people, all of them speak at least one other language that is more widely used. (not including students of Hebrew schools who learn how to read so the can celebrate a Bar Mitzvah). There are more speakers of Zulu worldwide. How many of Hatikva parents would send their kids to a Zulu immersion school? If looked at the registration list when Hatikva was founded you know that the majority of kids came from Jewish private schools, not from the diverse and excellent EB public schools.
Kelly September 30, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Stacy, imagine for a second that the town has 10 parks that anyone can use, and enough money to pay for the upkeep of those ten parks. Now 50 people come to the township and ask to open another boutique park that will only serve those 50 people in town. And, now to afford that new boutique park, the other parks are left in disrepair because the town now has to pay for the 11 parks with the same budget. Would that really be okay with you? Why is this so confusing to you? We don't want to pay for this boutique school that only serves a tiny portion of our town. It is that simple. We do not need 9 elementary schools. Also, it is not cool for representatives of the school to go around bashing our public schools (and don't tell me they don't, because I've seen it with my owns eyes and I'm sure you have to) because it hurts our property values. Also, the financial strain that this school causes our other public schools can hurt our property values. There is no corollary savings for our other 8 public elementary schools and now we have two million dollars less to operate those schools with because we have to pay for your ridiculous boutique school.
Freddy September 30, 2012 at 05:44 PM
The fact that Michael Hill Goldstein was a founding board member of the school says it all. Stop denying that this school does not have a political agenda. Why else would the Hebrew Charter School Network and the Areivim Group put so much money into starting these schools up? I believe you when you say that the school itself does not teach religion. That is why a portion of the students leave school an hour earlier then the rest to attend religious schooling offsite. It is a loophole in the law so that you can provide Hebrew and religious education and siphon public dollars into a portion of the program. Michael Steinhardt has an agenda and sadly the students here are pawns in that agenda, now.

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