Township Charter Schools Deny Civil Rights Violations Charges
The township’s two charter schools on Feb. 14 denied charges that their enrollment policies are discriminatory, and charged their critics with trying to harass charter schools out of business.
The schools – Thomas Edison EnergySmart Charter School and Central Jersey College Prep Charter School – were the subjects of federal civil rights complaints filed Feb. 10 by a township parents’ organization and a civil rights group. The two charged that the schools have kept off their rolls learning disabled and English language learner students, in the case of CJCP, and, in the case of TEECS, African American and Hispanic students and students who live in poverty.
The two groups also asked the state Department of Education to rescind the schools’ charters, and for the federal Department of Justice and Department of Education to investigate the affects of the state’s charter school policies.
Both schools denied the charges in press releases issued Feb. 14.
TEECS provides “an outstanding education to many Franklin Township, North Brunswick and South Brunswick families,” TEECS Lead Person, Oguz Yildiz, said in the school’s release. “We are consistently maintaining an excellent academic track record since our inception.”
Yildiz noted that the sate DOE in 2012 renewed the school’s charter and expansion application, and that the website SchoolDigger.com ranked TEECS “2nd place out of thousands public schools with an exceptional record of academic success, outperformed their peers in traditional public schools and made tremendous strides in providing a quality education for all students regardless of their background and ability level.”
“Students gain enrollment to our school through a publicly held random lottery process that blindly selects a certain number of students among the applicants to fill a predetermined amount of available seats granted to us by the New Jersey Department of Education,” Yildiz said in the release.
” The accusations against TEECS are part of an effort to harass public charter schools,” he said in the release. “We will continue to support our community with providing a choice school to educate our children at every step of the way.”
Yildiz said the school has more than 1,500 applications for the 2017-18 school year, “which shows the huge demand for our school.”
In February, 2016, then-state education commissioner David Hespe placed TEECS under a limited enrollment plan to alleviate “concerns” over the school’s student population’s “lack of diversity.” The five-year restriction was placed on TEECS as a condition of its charter renewal.
In the CJCP release, school spokesman Timothy White said the school “vehemently denies engaging in any form of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, or any other factor prohibited by federal or state law,” and said the school “will respond to the recent allegations against the school at the appropriate time, in the appropriate forum.”
“We believe the attacks levied against CJCP are part of a larger effort to harass and ultimately shut down public charter schools and deny a public charter school option to families, and they should be recognized as such,” he said in the release.
“CJCP is an inclusive and diverse school that provides an outstanding public education to many Franklin Township families,” White said in the release. “In 2016, CJCP was recognized by President Obama’s Department of Education as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. The school has an exceptional record of academic success, and provides a quality education for all students regardless of their background and ability level.”
“Students gain enrollment to the school through a publicly held random lottery process that blindly selects a certain number of students among the applicants to fill a predetermined amount of available seats granted to us by the New Jersey Department of Education,” he said.
TEECS’ lottery will be held at 10 a.m. Feb. 18 in the school’s gym, and CJCP’s lottery will be held at 6 p.m. March 7 in the school’s auditorium.
The groups filing the civil rights complaints are Franklin C.A.R.E.S. and the Latino Coalition of New Jersey. The coalition has also filed similar civil rights charges against the Red Bank Charter School, the Unity Charter School in Morristown and, according to the Red Bank Green article, is preparing a complaint against a Princeton charter school.
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