NJCSA Intervenes in Latino Action Network v. State of NJ



The New Jersey Charter Schools Association alongside a member charter school and a group of charter school parents has filed a motion to intervene in Latino Action Network v. State of New Jersey​. 


Meet the Intervenors
 

Ana Maria De La Roche Araque

My name is Ana Maria De La Roche Araque. I am a parent and resident of Edison, New Jersey. My children attend Hatikvah International Academy Charter School (HIACS) which is located in East Brunswick. My daughter is in kindergarten and my son is in sixth grade. Our family actively decided to enroll our children in the school and they are thriving there.

We began to consider public school options when my son approached school age. We looked at a number of schools that were within twenty miles of our home. We visited HIACS and ultimately decided to apply to the school even though we lived in a different municipality. However, the school had more applicants than there were seats available and my son was placed on the waitlist. He began kindergarten at a traditional Edison district school. He had a very bad experience during the first few weeks and we began looking for another school again. Eventually, we were notified that there was an opening at HIACS and we enrolled our son there. When it was time for my daughter to begin school, we chose HIACS for her as well.

We believe that HIACS provides our children with a diverse educational environment that they would not be able to experience in a traditional Edison district school. The mission at HIACS is to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young citizens in order to promote a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. The school works to ensure that students from all cultures, religions and ethnicities will be able to exist within one community while maintaining individual identities and pride. The school’s mission to embrace diversity is one that we value.

HIACS serves a diverse student population. The school does a good job tailoring the education to each student’s needs. The teachers are amazing and they never give up on a student and the goal of helping students achieve academically.


Edison, NJ

 

Diane Gutierrez

My name is Diane Gutierrez. I live in Trenton, New Jersey. My child/children have been attending Foundation Academy Charter School since 2012.

I chose Foundation Academy because we were not happy with the school my children had been attending, a traditional district school. In particular, one of my children has high-functioning autism, and we found the environment at his previous school to be too chaotic for him. He was not assessed for his special need when he attended the local district school. At Foundation Academy, we were able to work with his teachers to get him evaluated and develop the appropriate plan for him. He has thrived at Foundation Academy.

We learned about the lottery for Foundation Academy from a friend. We heard that Foundation was more structured, that students were taught to behave differently and that students and teachers there were very dedicated and caring.

We had decided that if we were unable to find a better school for our children that we would have to leave our home and move out of Trenton. We were not in a position to consider sending our children to a private school. After entering the lottery and securing seats at Foundation Academy, we decided to enroll our students there.

We have been very pleased with the education our children have received at Foundation Academy. As a charter school, Foundation Academy has the ability to give students a solid foundation and focus on college preparation. The school also has a very strong music program in which all students participate in orchestra and learn to play an instrument. The music program is unlike any we have seen in traditional district public schools. In addition, the parents at Foundation Academy are active in the school community. At Foundation, all parents are included. The school retains more Spanish-speaking staff, especially in lower grades to help ease the transition into the school from Spanish-speaking homes. In addition, parent involvement was welcomed and supported.

Trenton, NJ

 

Tafshier Cosby-Thomas

My name is Tafshier Cosby-Thomas. I live in Newark, New Jersey. One of my children attended KIPP Newark Charter Schools - KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy (KIPP NCA) and Newark Collegiate Academy - starting in 2011 as a fifth grader.

I chose KIPP RISE and NCA because we were unhappy with the traditional district public school in our community after a leadership change. As a family, we were committed to enrolling our son in a community school but the district public school was not working for him. The environment at his prior school was too distracting for our son, who was eventually diagnosed with ADD and who needed a better curriculum and more structure. As more of the people in our community learned about public charter school options, more students began to leave the traditional district public school.

We found that KIPP RISE and NCA had strong leaders and a better curriculum. We also learned that students at the charter school performed better academically. When we enrolled our son at KIPP, we found that as a charter school, it is able to be more innovative with its curriculum and tailor it to the needs of students like our son. When we saw the need for a new club, the school was able to support the creation of it and our son was able to participate. The dedication of the teachers is also important. At KIPP NCA, everyone is treated like family and teachers give you their direct phone number to call. We also found the environment to be less chaotic than his previous school.

One of the other reasons we selected KIPP was because it was within our community, which was important to us. KIPP was still in safe walking distance from our home. Even though it is a public charter school, it was not a longer distance from our home than his previous school.

In addition to being a safe school within our community, KIPP NCA allowed us to be engaged parents. As a charter school, the leadership at KIPP NCA was able to dedicate resources to parent involvement. At my son’s previous school, after a new principal was put in place, the commitment to parent engagement declined. At KIPP NCA, the school developed parent partnership teams. Leadership supported and devoted resources to parent professional development. The school understands and respects the important role parents play in their child’s education.

Newark, NJ

 

BelovED Community Charter School

BelovED Community Charter School currently serves 1,200 students in grades K-9 and will grow to become a full K-12 model in the next three years. BelovED is one of the most diverse public schools in the entire state and mirrors the overall demographic composition of the Jersey City school-age population.

The school has made a decision to intervene into the case because public charter schools are being scapegoated for school segregation. Charter school families that attend our school will be impacted by the outcome of the litigation and we want a seat at the table to provide the facts and make our voices heard.

Jersey City, NJ

 
 

Why Intervene?
The lawsuit claims that the State of New Jersey is responsible for addressing school segregation and seeks remedies to address that problem. The plaintiffs include the Latino Action Network, NAACP New Jersey, Urban League of Essex County, The United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey and parents and students.

The plaintiffs inexplicably accuse charter schools of being part of the school segregation problem in New Jersey. They cite data that notes that charter schools serve a disproportionate number of Black and Latino students in New Jersey without noting that most charter schools operate in urban districts with a large majority of Black and Latino students. Charter school students look very much the same as students in their cities and towns.

The intervenors strongly disagree with the plaintiffs when they accuse public charter schools of being part of the school segregation problem in New Jersey. New Jersey public charter schools are part of the solution, not the problem. They are actually providing a remedy to school segregation. Unlike most traditional public schools, New Jersey’s charter schools are permitted to serve children across municipal boundaries, allowing them to break down barriers of race and zip code. This has led to the creation of many intentionally diverse charter schools. In fact, three of the most diverse schools in the state are charter schools. Underscoring our ongoing commitment to this work, NJCSA will continue its partnership with the Diverse Charter Schools Coalition to support more diverse-by-design schools in New Jersey through effective research, advocacy, and outreach.



Latino Action Network
v. State of New Jersey
Press Release

NEW JERSEY - Today, a group of New Jersey public charter school parents, schools, and the state charter schools association filed a motion to intervene in Latino Action Network v. State of New Jersey, a lawsuit filed in May 2018.

The intervenors, who include parents from Newark, Trenton, and Edison and a public charter school in Jersey City, agree with the plaintiffs that integrated schools are a worthy goal and a positive thing for children. However, the intervenors strongly disagree with the plaintiffs when they inexplicably accuse public charter schools of being part of the school segregation problem in New Jersey.

A recent, exhaustive study of school segregation published by the Urban Institute found that New Jersey’s public charter schools did not contribute to school segregation in the Garden State, further undermining the claims of the plaintiffs.

“This lawsuit’s claim that public charter schools are contributing to school segregation is objectively false,” said Harry Lee, President of the New Jersey Charter Schools Association. “Our highest obligation as a state is to provide a quality public school for every child, regardless of their race, zip code, or income. Public charter schools are providing this for thousands of New Jersey families, while also helping to make our schools more diverse in many communities across the state.”

“We’re filing this motion to ensure that charter schools can no longer be scapegoated for school segregation,” said Lisa Scruggs, a veteran litigator with the Duane Morris law firm. “New Jersey’s public charter schools are giving families much-needed options, and parents deserve the right to choose them.”

New Jersey public charter schools are part of the solution, not the problem. They are actually providing a remedy to school segregation. Unlike most traditional public schools, New Jersey’s charter schools are permitted to serve children across municipal boundaries, allowing them to break down barriers of race and zip code. This has led to the creation of many intentionally diverse charter schools. In fact, three of the most diverse schools in the state are charter schools. Underscoring our ongoing commitment to this work, NJCSA will continue its partnership with the Diverse Charter Schools Coalition to support more diverse-by-design schools in New Jersey through effective research, advocacy, and outreach.

“My son goes to a diverse charter school that’s not in our community, but we were still allowed to choose it,” said Ana Maria De La Roche, a parent intervenor from Edison. “This lawsuit is way off when it claims charter schools are causing segregation - for my family, we’ve chosen to attend a charter school that celebrates its diversity.”

In their lawsuit, the Latino Action Network v. New Jersey, the Plaintiffs cite data that notes that charter schools serve a disproportionate number of Black and Latino students in New Jersey - without noting that most charter schools operate in urban districts where a large majority of Black and Latino students live. Most importantly, they fail to acknowledge that public charter schools are providing children in urban districts with a high-quality education, and by doing so, make the implicit and erroneous assumption that schools serving predominantly students of color are inherently low-performing.

35,000 students across New Jersey are on waiting lists for public charter schools, the majority of whom live in urban communities. Public charter schools are in high demand because their students are achieving at a high level. Statewide, public charter school students are 40 percent more likely than their peers to read on grade level and 49 percent more likely than their peers to do math on grade level, according to 2018 state test results.

“My son and daughter’s public charter school is a great school close to home, where they can go to school with students and teachers that reflect our community,” said Tafshier Cosby- Thomas, a parent intervenor from Newark. “Integrated schools are a good thing and diversity is important. But we need quality schools in all our neighborhoods, even in communities where residential integration has not been achieved yet. Parents should not have to choose between supporting existing good public schools and pursuing integration.”