Hoboken school board to vote on new superintendent, continuing HoLa charter school lawsuit

HOBOKEN—After several months of searching, the Hoboken Board of Education will move to appoint a new Superintendent of Schools at its monthly meeting this Tuesday, March 14. From a field of nine interviewed candidates, the school board selected Christine Johnson and will vote to approve a five-year contract on Tuesday.

Johnson was one of four finalists who participated in a second round of interviews with the school board in February. Hoboken’s current assistant superintendent Miguel Hernandez was also a finalist.

If her contract is affirmed by the school board and Hudson County school superintendent Monica Tone, Johnson will replace Hoboken interim superintendent Richard Brockel on July 15.

On Tuesday, the school board will also vote to continue its legal challenge to the expansion of the Hoboken Dual Language Charter School (HoLa), though it will not afford any more funding to the effort.

The board filed a lawsuit aiming to block HoLa’s expansion last year, alleging that it would lead to increased racial and socioeconomic segregation in Hoboken’s public schools. The state education commissioner requested a second opportunity to review his office’s approval of the expansion, but upheld the decision last month, finding no evidence of a segregative effect.

The resolution being considered on Tuesday will authorize the board’s special counsel “to take any and all appropriate action to pursue appellate review of the March 20, 2015 decision,” potentially returning the case to state appellate court.

According to the resolution, the commissioner’s March ruling reflects “a failure by the Department of Education to consider accurate student census data, as well as the socioeconomic and financial impact of continued expansion on the Hoboken Public Schools.”

Despite emphasizing its importance, the school board will not support its special counsel with further funding, stating in the resolution that “from this point forward, the actions of special counsel will be funded not by taxpayer dollars, but by private donations to the board specifically designated for that purpose.”

Several board members running for office last November said they would not support continuing to fund the lawsuit with taxpayer dollars. The issue has become controversial (see our prior stories about the matter linked below).

Last June, the school board increased the total amount of the contract with its special counsel to $50,000.

School board president Ruth Tyroler did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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