The Kearny Board of Education lost an appeal to halt the operations of the Hudson Arts and Science Charter School’s satellite location in town, unsuccessfully arguing that this will have a negative impact on the public school system.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“The Kearny Board of Education appeals from an August 9, 2018 decision of the Department of Education permitting the Hudson Arts and Science Charter School to amend its charter to open two new satellite locations, one in Kearny,” Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division Judges Carmen Messano and Allison Accurso ruled yesterday.
“The Kearny Board contends the decision should be reversed because Hudson Arts’ application was untimely, and the amendment negatively impacts the Kearny Board’s schools. We disagree the request for a charter amendment to permit the satellites was untimely, and the record lacks any evidence of its fiscal impact on the district’s schools.”
The appellate court recounts that the NJ DOE granted Hudson Arts in July 2016 and then filed a timely request to amend their charter in November of that same year, seeking a satellite location in Jersey City as well.
The state approved the amendment on February 28th, 2017, permitting a maximum enrollment increase from 483 in 2017-2018 to 1,021 for 2019-2020. They also asked the school to file the amendment documentation when they identified a Jersey City location.
The appellate court also notes that the Kearny BOE did not object to either decision by the NJ DOE and didn’t do so until Hudson Arts sought another amendment to its charter in March 2018 – seeking to open another location in town.
“The new Kearny campus with thirty-five classrooms, a gym and a cafeteria dwarfed the school’s Jersey City satellite, which would have only eight classrooms, a cafeteria and a
recreation room,” the court recalled.
“The Kearny Board objected, claiming ‘the request comes three months past the legal deadline of December 1 . . . for amendments that impact enrollment.’ It asserted Hudson Arts had already caused ‘the reallocation of more than 4 million dollars’ from the public schools in this ‘seriously underfunded’ district, and new budget figures required it ‘to earmark more than 1.5 million dollars to fund’ Hudson Arts’ enrollment increase.”
The NJ DOE approved the amendment in August 2018 and the Kearny BOE appealed, but the court indicates that they did not miss any deadlines, and overall, there is no legal precedent to overturn the decision.
“The Kearny Board’s failure to make even a preliminary showing that satisfaction of the thorough-and-efficient education requirements would be jeopardized relieved the Commissioner of any obligation to canvass ;the financial condition of the district … in order to determine its ability to adjust to the per-pupil loss’ on approval of the charter amendment.”