On Friday New Jersey Acting Commissioner Angelica Allen-McMillan notified four charter schools in Newark that she is denying their requests for expansion. This is the first charter decision she has made since she was selected as Gov. Phil Murphy’s replacement for Lamont Repollet.
The four public charter networks denied expansion are North Star Academy, KIPP, Great Oaks Legacy, and Robert Treat Academy.
Allen-McMillan acceded to pleas by Newark Superintent Roger León, who has tried in recent months to curtail the growth of Newark’s charter school sector by making it more difficult for parents to choose charters through the district’s universal enrollment plan; trying to reverse district sales of buildings to charters; undermining collaborative efforts between charter and traditional schools; overstating fiscal impacts of parent choice on district budget; and demanding the state not renew four charter schools
Chalkbeat reports that León “made two main arguments in his letters to the commissioner, who is required to weigh the input of local school boards when making charter renewal decisions.” The first argument is that charters are too burdensome on Newark Public Schools’ budget. This argument was dispelled by Mark Weber aka Jersey Jazzman in a study on the impact of charter schools on district finances. He showed that in New Jersey traditional districts fiscally benefit from expansion of charters due to and writes,“[o]nly in New Jersey was higher independent charter market share associated with an increase in state revenue per pupil but not in local revenue per pupil.”
New study conducted by @jerseyjazzman finds that charter schools do NOT drain money from local districts. His study shows that in NJ, an increase in the # of charter students is associated with more state funding per pupil for districts where the charters are located.
— New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association (@NJPCSA) February 9, 2021
León’s second argument is that charters don’t take their fair share of students with disabilities. (11% of Newark public charter students have special needs, compared to the district’s 17%.)
Allen-McMillan also put two Newark public charters, Achieve and LEAD, on probation.