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Court Says 'Yes' to Hatikvah

The Appellate Court said the school did meet enrollment requirements before it opened.

A decision by the State Superior Court Appellate Division Monday says the met all enrollment requirements before opening in 2010.

seeking to overturn former Education Commissioner Bret Schundler’s decision to approve the school because it did not meet enrollment requirements at the time. According to school district attorney Matthew Giacobbe, state Department of Education regulations require that a charter school meet 90 percent of its expected enrollment by July 1 of the year it opens.

According to the decision, the school board was urging the court “to revoke Hatikvah's charter and remand the matter to the Commissioner to set a timetable for it to wind down its operations, or take other steps as a result of Hatikvah's purportedly deficient application.”

However, the court said that the school met it's enrollment requiement by the deadline, and that subsequent dips in enrollment before the actual opening were not grounds to revoke the charter. See the attachment to read the entire court decision.

“The board certainly disagrees with the analysis and conclusion of the Appellate Division, and the board will decide what, if any, next steps are appropriate,” said school board President Todd Simmens.

According to the decision, Hatikvah submitted evidence in June 2010 that it had 100 East Brunswick resident students enrolled – 44 in kindergarten, 38 in first grade, and 18 in second grade. There was also a waiting list for kindergarten of 9 East Brunswick residents and 24 non- residents, as well as non-residents enrolled in the other grades to fill the remaining spaces, totaling 97 out of l08 students, or 90 percent.

Two months later, in a correspondence between Hatikvah and the commissioner’s office, enrollment dipped to approximately 100 students, 89 from East Brunswick. The school also reported that it had a waiting list for kindergarten and an out-of-town waiting list for first and second grade, which were sufficient to fill the remaining eight spots, according to the decision.

That dip is part of the reason for the court’s decision.

“All deadlines were met and on July 6, 2010, the Commissioner granted final approval of Hatikvah's charter, satisfied it had complied with all the requirements of the Act and charter school regulations. Hatikvah became a valid and operational charter school effective July l, 2010 through June 30, 2014. That Hatikvah's enrollment numbers "dipped modestly" after the approval does not mean it did not meet the ninety percent requirement as of June 30. Nor should the fact that there is some fluctuation in actual registration and transfer be fatal to Hatikvah's final approval of its charter. Parents could change their minds about their child attending the public or the private school over the summer.”

Representatives from Hatikvah did not respond to an email requestion a comment.

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