Hoboken school board moves to continue lawsuit against charter school expansion to eighth grade; appeal will be privately funded

HOBOKEN–The Hoboken Board of Education will continue its lawsuit against the expansion of the Hoboken Dual Language Charter School (HoLa) from six to eight grades, though it will not devote any additional public funding to the effort. In a resolution approved this past Tuesday, April 14, by a vote of 6 to 2, the board authorized its “special counsel to take any and all appropriate action to pursue appellate review” of a late March ruling by state education commissioner David Hespe upholding his office’s 2014 approval of the expansion.
After the school board filed a legal challenge to HoLa’s expansion last year, Hespe requested a second chance to review the district’s demographic data. Last month, he closed his investigation, arguing that HoLa had no segregative effect on the Hoboken school district.
Hoboken interim superintendent Dr. Richard Brockel differed with the ruling, stating that it “ignores the socioeconomic impact of the proposed expansion” and “relies on flawed census population data.” On Tuesday, a majority of the school board joined him.
A parade of HoLa parents and officials rose to speak out against the lawsuit, calling it divisive and doomed to future defeats. “Parents want choices, they don’t want a lawsuit,” said HoLa board president Barbara Martinez, “and taxpayers don’t want to keep bleeding for something that’s not going to change.”
Several of the school board candidates in November declined to support the battle against HoLa’s expansion when asked about it by the Reporter.
Martinez emphasized that, though the school board’s appeal would be funded privatey from here on out, her own school’s legal defense would continue to be funded with taxpayer money anyway, as the charter schools are considered public schools — thus, the public is still paying toward the effort.
Twenty-one students expect to go on to seventh grade in HoLa starting in August.
According to school board counsel Marie-Laurence Fabian, the appeal process would not begin until private donations specifically designated for the lawsuit were received by the board. However, at least two school board members said they would be donating.
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