Friday, May 9, 2014

The Not-So-Fine Print: "Renewal and Expansion"

In response to this reader comment, GA has taken a closer look at why so many believe the BoE wants to close HoLa.  
I'm really not sure how you can sit there and say that the BoE is not calling for HoLa to be shut down... 
As the reader pointed out, the BoE's Appeal to the NJDOE repeatedly invoked HoLa's "renewal and expansion" and "renewal with the expansion of grade levels"    GA witnessed many parents at Tuesday's meeting asking for the Board to remove the word "renewal" from the petition. 

In fact the word "renewal" seems to be the source of fears that the BoE wants to close HoLa.

So, why did the BoE appeal HoLa's "renewal and expansion"? 

There is a reason.

When a New Jersey Charter School wishes to add grades, as HoLa does, it must AMEND it's Charter in accordance with Rule N.J.A.C. 6A:11-2.6. (page 24)    Before the Amendment can be filed, the Charter School must first be granted a RENEWAL of it's Charter.  Once renewal is granted, only then the Charter submits an application and documents to AMEND it's Charter in accordance with  N.J.A.C. 6A:11-2.6 .

 That is the way it is supposed to work.

Renewal application first. Expansion application next, contingent upon the granting of Charter renewal.

That is not the way HoLa did it.   HoLa did not comply with N.J.A.C. 6A:11-2.6.

This is not an accusation.  It is a fact. 

HoLa buried its "Amendment Request: Expansion to 8th Grade" on page 18 of its 48-page RENEWAL application. 

HoLA Charter Renewal Application 2013-2014


GA believes HoLa administrators took this "shortcut" to approve its expansion for a couple of reasons. 

1) By integrating it with its renewal application HoLa administrators intended to slip it through the NJDOE and once approved, make it very uncomfortable (and politically unpopular) for the BoE to oppose.

2) Administrators figured the 'average person' wouldn't understand how "renewal" would have to be included in the Appeal. Thus, this 'average person' would react viscerally, with disgust and horror, and turn on the Hoboken School Board and Dr. Toback.   


3) HoLa does not post its Charter Renewal Application on its own web site. This lack of transparency would prevent the 'average person' from access to the source of the scary "renewal" verbiage.

Here is where the "Amendment Request" (expansion) is located in the HoLa Charter renewal:



The Amendment request is one paragraph long, and circumvents the state's requirements and submissions for a Charter expansion.  

So, what have we? 

Because of HoLa administrators' 'shortcut' burial of the Amendment request in their Charter Renewal, the Appeal had to address "renewal and expansion."  


HAD TO.  If you don't understand why, ask your favorite lawyer.  As Toback told me himself when I asked him on Tuesday why the "renewal" verbiage was there: "the lawyers put it in."

GA believes that anti-BoE politicos/adminstrators chose NOT to comply with N.J.A.C. 6A:11-2.6  forcing Hoboken District into the very uncomfortable and politically unpopular position of having to challenge the school's renewal if they wished to challenge the expansion.

 
N.J.A.C. 6A:11-2.6.

It is wrong to play politics with HoLa families. 
 

When you have a rabid anti-BoE politico as a Board Trustee who devotes endless hours to trashing the BoE majority coalition, Superintendent Toback and the Hoboken Public School District on his 'academic blog'.... and another Trustee is a former BoE Trustee and adversary of the current administration, why wouldn't  fear-mongering ("the BoE is trying to close HoLa") be a useful tool?

Well, it is easy to understand how the "renewal" verbiage would be exploited by political predators like Beth Mason on HCTV, Carmelo Garcia on Patch, Castellano- Russo's City Council Resolution (since pulled) coordinated with HoLa Trustee Anthony Petrosino  who posted the resolution on his 'academic blog'.

GA believes this fear-mongering about the BoE wanting HoLa's closure is a ill wind from the Dark Side.  And some who know better are fomenting it at the expense of families.


Here is the truth:

The BoE and Dr. Toback are NOT trying to close HoLa

44 comments:

  1. Hmmmmmm..... interesting. Makes you wonder if they did it on purpose. Considering they continue to lie about the funding source on the first page of their webpage. Looks calculated to me.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Interesting also, their original charter was approved as a K-5 school. How did Grade 6 get added? Where is the expansion request for that grade? Did they even have to fill one out for the expansion to 6th grade?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know. There is no reason these documents cannot be posted on their web site.

      Delete
  3. No doubt in my mind putting the amendment in their renewal application a political throw down to the BOE. Reformers fell for it too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. There is an honest disagreement among good people about expanding the two grades, but NOBODY supports closing HoLa K-6.

      So I hope the above facts about the improper process RESPONSIBLE for the confusion helps tamp down the hysteria.

      Had HoLa adminstrators followed NJ statutes and submitted the amendment application after the charter renewal, this hysteria would have been downgraded to a disagreement over expansion. I think the hysteria is exactly what anti-BoE HoLa administrators wanted ( like a certain double-dipper who unsuccessfully sued the BoE).

      The Dark Side is licking its chops to get back at the helm of the BoE. Folks need to wise up.

      Delete
  4. What do you expect. Isnt Frank Raia on the hola board? When he was boe prez there were 1,050 employees on the boe payroll, hundreds of free cell phones, steak dinners, trips to AC, dips in the petty cash. Those were the good ole days.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Didn't HoLa recently have an audit? What were the findings? With Raia and Petro on the board, I'll bet they're rackin' up audit findings. Jobs job jobs. Pernil for everyone!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I do not necessarily agree with the grand conspiracy plan, I actually believe this was just more corrupt sloppy work which is what you get when inexperienced self serving people do something with the advice and counsel of incompetent sloppy (and corrupt) people. The reason they combined the renewal and expansion in one document was because the "founders" children were aging out of the school and they wanted the expansion quicker than was allowable via the correct process. There is a lot of irony here as in 2008, if Raslowsky/Petrosino/Garcia had followed a transparent RFP process instead of letting two or three non educators with no experience, write, propose and present a poorly written term paper to the Board they would have had the support from the full board and this would be a district program. BUT at that time the same shove it in as fast as possible, fore go the transparent open process, we need the school now because our kids need kindergarten now and I do not want them in school with those children attitude was at work and hence everything fell apart with JIMMY FARINAs NO vote. Now fast forward to 2014 and we have the same thing happening again. The true shame is that a bunch of hard working people have made great strides in righting our schools (something Raia Rhodes-Kearns and "nasty weasel doesn't give a &%#$ about his own people" Carmelo Garcia failed to do with all those years in the majority) and these self serving parents and Mayor of the loudest votes Zimmer, Two faced Mello and "I am only for my civil rights" Bhalla are all on the band wagon with Russo, Castellano, Mason and Occipinti. Thank god, Giattino, Cunningham and Doyle are smart enough to stay away from this. Note to Zimmer/Mello/Bhalla: there are a lot of us supporters who think the Hola parents are disgusting self serving unethical, immoral bigots. We are watching your actions and we are not impressed. I, for one, and my 20 or so friends that I talk politics with who are charter school parents, public school parents and non parents, are pretty convinced that the actions you have taken in defense of this small population of voters is the last straw for us and with out some major changes in your governing tactics you are never getting our votes again. I do not think we are an isolated pocket of people. Stop having every thing you do revolve around the charters, remember there are 50,000 people in this city and you seem to spend all your time on keeping a small group of people with kids under the age of 10 happy. OH YEAH, they are the best and brightest. I guess my couple of million dollars in property and the smarts to buy over twenty years ago doesn't make me one of the people you care about. That said it is very apparent you do not care about the poor people we got that message before this Hola train wreck, Sorry so cynical today, but I have had it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This whole time, the suit was only about the extra two grades and not about shutting down the elementary school?

    That 1/2 page ad, throwing everyone into a tizzy. Telling other charter parents (like me) that their school was next. Why would anyone do something like that?

    If this is true, what a cold, calculated and despicable move.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Who would attend a "get me through 8th grade" rally?
    But the entire town, including the mayor, was whipped up to attend the HELP... the big bad BOE is coming after you next !!" rally.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Here is an excerpt from Dr. Toback's initial letter to the commissioner published on the district's site dated 11/13/14. One can see clearly that the original intent was to have the state explore the possibility of not approving Hola's renewal.
    [IMG]http://i59.tinypic.com/2cwx4lg.jpg[/IMG]

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You mean 11/12/2013--not 2014.

      Dr. Toback's "initial letter to the commissioner" was written less than 30 days after HoLa filed it's RENEWAL application with the page 18 expansion request buried within instead of proper filing per statute N.J.A.C. 6A:11-2.6.

      No, "one CANNOT see clearly" any such "original intent".

      Because HoLa integrated the expansion request in it's RENEWAL the BoE was as a matter of law and procedure required to address renewal. HoLa chose to make expansion part of it's renewal application. "One can see clearly" the intent of this improper filing was to feed this anti-BOE talking points to political operatives and anti-administration politicos.

      Posting a excerpt out of context without any link to the letter is a political operative trick. Click HERE to read the 11/12/13 letter from Toback to Commissioner Cerf.

      HERE is the nj.com article dated 11/12/2013 about the letter.

      Excerpts OK, but please provide link to original documents- even Petrosino does that much.

      Delete
    2. The petition is clear

      "Dr. Toback wrote to Mr. Cerf
      objecting, not to the renewal of HoLa’s charter for grades K-6, but as to the request to expand to 7th and 8th grade. "


      http://www.hoboken.k12.nj.us/hoboken/Recent%20News/_Petition%20to%20NJDOE%20regarding%20HOLA%20Expansion.pdf

      The director and Hola board must have read the petition and had to have know this is only about the expansion.

      Seems like just another case of "I'll do what I have to do to get mine. If I have to destroy the community to do it, so be it."

      Delete
  10. shame on them for the cold calculated, manipulative move. Shame on some "reformers" for helping them destroy the community.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Toback and Kids First have something in common, they only know how to tear down, not build up. But this time its backfiring-- especially when words like "segregation" are used by the superintendent, "racism" by the union president, and "white flight" by the board president-- at the same time Hola is being scapegoated for dozens of lost jobs in the district by Toback and the Board. Here are the facts- Toback's lawsuit (I mean "petition") is questioning both the renewal as well as the expansion and Kids First was against Hola from the start...all the rest is semantics and posturing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stop spreading the lies. You are despicable.


      posted in the appeal:
      "Dr. Toback wrote to Mr. Cerf
      objecting, not to the renewal of HoLa’s charter for grades K-6, but as to the request to expand to 7th and 8th grade. "

      Delete
    2. The "appeal" is a document written by the Board's law firm intended to cast the district and the superintendent in the best possible light not a fountain of truth and objectivity.
      What is despicable is the use of terms like "segregation", "racism", and "white flight" when talking about the children and parents of Hoboken who are seeking choice and the opportunity to be fluent in a second language via public education.

      Delete
    3. What is disgusting is that the charter school laws created a de facto situation while results in segregated systems and people like you want to stick your heads in the sand and pretend it doesn't exist. You know as does every public school parent, administrator and teacher that the schools have very different populations so get off your high horse and stop with the rhetoric.

      "According to figures compiled by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS), a non-profit, pro-charter advocacy group, the demographics of Hoboken’s charter school population are in stark contrast with state averages. Most charters are designed to give disadvantaged students an alternative to failing public schools, and so their populations are such that the majority of students are Hispanic or African-American.

      According to NAPCS figures for the 2010-11 school year, New Jersey charter schools are attended by 61 percent African-American students, 25 percent Hispanic students, and only 10 percent white students. But in Hoboken, where most minority students attend the public schools, the charter school demographics are nearly inverted from state averages – 59 percent of students are white, 25 percent are Hispanic, and only nine percent are African-American."


      Read more: Hudson Reporter - The complicated implications of alleging school segregation As charter school defends demographics stats show similar divide in other Hoboken schools

      Delete
    4. The appeal is a legal document. It states that Toback isn't opposed to Hola k-6.

      Should I believe you or my lying eyes?

      Hard choice there.

      Delete
    5. “What we’ve seen over the past two decades is a slow but steady increase in the isolation of Black and Latino students. It’s not just an issue of race. There is ‘double segregation’ of race and poverty,” said Orfield. “Few people want to address these issues, but we must talk about the value of diversity and the success of stable, integrated communities so we can start to reverse these dismal trends in our schools.”

      Gary Orfield, a professor of education at the UCLA Civil Rights Project, a group that studies the effects of race and class in public schools,



      Delete
    6. Unless and until the Hoboken Board of Education majority and Toback can offer an objective and verifiable quality education for the children of Hoboken (as opposed to anecdotal stories) I don't believe anyone with an option will turn to the public schools in town anytime soon.

      Delete
    7. Students getting into Wharton, Stevens and other top colleges isn't objective and verifiable.

      So transparent how little you bother to look into the real issues of education. If that were the benchmark, Hola wouldn't have enrolled any students until 2012 test results came out, because those 2011 results were far from stellar.

      Delete
  12. Why didn't the NJ DOE, reject the application and tell them to redo it? Why didn't they make them resubmit as two different things for renewal end expansion? How many other charter schools get that type of flexibility?

    ReplyDelete
  13. They have know choice but to question both renewal and expansion. That's because HOLA bundled the applications together. They should have been two separate documents. The state should honor their own rules.

    ReplyDelete
  14. if charters are publicly funded schools, then no one should get preference. The first year is the only year the lottery is really open. After that, siblings are basically guaranteed admission, leave very few spots open. Unless this changes, there will be a continuous segragative effect.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The lottery is only needed because so many parents want their children in the school. If the school had more space, any child who wanted to enroll would be able to attend Hola and be guaranteed admission. In either way, I believe lottery rules are determined by the State and not by the school.

      Delete
    2. Hola already has a slew of non Hoboken resident students.

      Delete
  15. Any child? Even those needing special services?

    ReplyDelete
  16. Any child?- yes. The answer is yes. Even a child in need of special services? Yes. The lottery (like school choice) is "blind" to special needs, race, gender, and income. And, the post above is correct, the rules for the lottery are determined by the state NOT the school.

    ReplyDelete
  17. So, a parent of a child with Downs, CP or Autism should feel comfortable applying for Hola knowing you have a full team of professional services to meet the needs of that child?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A parent with a child with Downs, CP, Autism, or any other special need is eligible and entitled to enroll in a NJ charter school. If demand exceeds available seats, that parent and child are eligible and entitled to participate in a state approved lottery for admission.
      The degree to which the parent(s) feels comfortable with their decision to send their special needs child to a charter school is an individual family decision and should involve the parent, the child, health care professionals, and trained educators to assure free and adequate services.

      Delete
    2. of course a parent with a child with spec needs is eligible to apply! Would you apply to a school with no services to meet your child's needs? Of course not! All tied up in a nice little bow huh? Dont provide the services then blame it on the parens for not wanting to attend a school with no services. Really?

      Delete
  18. The Hoboken Reporter story would have been a wonderful opportunity for the Superintendent to have clarified that he and the Board did not object to HoLa's renewal application itself and did not want to see it denied or delayed. It wouldn't be surprising if he said that and the HR just didn't print it but it was a lost opportunity to set the record straight since the petition itself was easily misunderstood.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He clarified that at the meeting , a prior letter and in the appeal itself. You choose to spin this and create hysteria.

      Delete
  19. And the cost of that full team is still below $11,000 per child. I am interested to hear more about that.

    ReplyDelete
  20. charter schools have a perception of being better because admission is limited. it's a private school environment for free (meaning no tuition paid). The charters should make their budgets public. Exactly how high are their administrative costs? I would think two general classes with only 9 children each, would have a higher cost per pupil than 1 class with 18 children.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, all this squawking about accountability and non-charter public school student costs from HoLa parents whose unelected school board is entirely unaccountable to the public while they spend taxpayer money. Of course we're back to the state as the source of the charter regulations that permits this lack of accountability. Problems with the charter lottery process and funding formula are only the iceberg.

      Delete
    2. Problems with the charter lottery process and funding formula are only the tip of the iceberg.

      Delete
    3. There is a macro discussion about charters vs traditional public schools and it is a legitimate discussion. There is also a micro discussion about Hola and the Hoboken Public Schools and that is a legitimate discussion. What appears to be happening is people are conflating the macro and micro issues and making the "debate" more complicated than it needs to be IMHO. Here's the simple summary: 1) a dual language program was proposed for the district and rejected by Minutillo, Markle, and the rest of Kids First plus one non Kids First member. 2) Hola submitted and was approved to be a K-5 charter. 3) Hola quickly became popular and requested an expansion. A 6th grade was approved despite a protest letter from Dr. Toback; 4) Hola continues to garner positive attention and enrollment. 5) Despite another letter of protest, Hola's charter is renewed and is awarded an expansion to the 8th grade-- Hola receives support letters from many public officials. 6) Dr. Toback and the Hoboken BOE petition the state to re-evaluate Hola's renewal and expansion. 7) The petition (a.k.a. "lawsuit") along with statements made by HBOE leaders include "segregation" (Toback), "racism" (Enrico), and "white flight" (Gold) divide the community.

      Delete
    4. Try again.

      HOw did hola get a 6th grade expansion last year? What form was used? why did hola put an expansion request, totaling 1 paragraph in the renewal application? The process clearly states "amendments shall be done FOLLOWING charter approval. FOLLOWING. FOLLOWING.

      Why did your director not follow the statute?
      Why did the state not follow it's many statutes?

      Gee. I cant figure out why any director would tie the renewal application to the expansion. Now why would someone do that?

      We're not all morons.



      Delete
    5. In my opinion, Anonymous Hola makes a lot of sense. Anonymous 10:36 PM is asking a lot of silly questions.

      Delete
  21. Hola needs to set rules for their board members. None of them should be publicly bashing the district schools. And they have to stop the threat of "we will move out". Move if you want, the threat serves no purpose.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. video of the meeting is up. Everyone should watch it.

      Delete
  22. Anonymous May 12, 2014 at 9:58 PM message starts off sounding intelligent than starts acting innocent and then sneaky. I know the type.

    ReplyDelete