Senator Richard J. Codey, Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey and Assemblyman John F. McKeon plan to join local area residents in Maplewood on Friday, Jan. 6 to rally for the rejection of an application of the Hua Mei Charter School. The three law makers are calling for the decision to approve or reject any charter's application to be made by voter approval.
The rally is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 6 at 4:30 p.m. at the Maplewood Community Center in on Burnett Avenue.
Codey, Jasey and McKeon are (S-2243/A-3852) advancing through the New Jersey Legislature, aimed at giving local voters control of the charter school application process, including the establishment or expansion of a school.
"Our area schools provide oustanding public education, despite the tremendous budget difficulties they face," Codey said in a press release. "It is more important than ever that we empower our communities to make decisions that impact our school budgets."
"Now is not the time to divert funding from our public schools by creating boutique charter schools in non-failing districts. Where traditional schools are failing to meet the needs of their students, it may be appropriate to allocate taxpayer dollars to innovative educational models that can be developed in a charter school setting and replicated in traditional public schools after success has been demonstrated," Jasey said.
Stan Karp is one Montclair resident who also plans to attend and speak at the anti-charter rally. In early December, the state that Quest Academy Charter High School in Montclair was one of 17 proposed charter schools in New Jersey that are still in the running for approval. Many Montclair residents, as well as Superintendent Frank Alvarez, oppose the charter school, saying it will siphon money away from the public school system. The Quest application is the fifth application that founders have submitted.
The is a Mandarin-immersion school which would be based in Maplewood and would draw students from the South Orange-Maplewood and West Orange school districts. The school would start as a K-2 school and expand to K-5 over three years. The former St. Joseph's School location on Franklin Street has been identified as the location of the school.
"The Hua Mei proposal for a charter school would duplicate a highly successful Mandarin language based program in the West Orange school system which has recently been expanded to offer Advanced Placement. The proposal would also divert funding from successful public schools," McKeon said. "The charter school concept was designed to promote 'laboratories of invention,' not to replace successful public schools."
A is being organized by Adam Kraemer of West Orange — to take place concurrently with the anti-Hua Mei rally at DeHart Park on Friday.
School district officials in , , and have protested the application, and the in June calling for charter school reform.
While the application , Hua Mei's founders amended the application and leaving Millburn, Livingston and Union out of the new application. The amended application made the in this round of approvals. A final determination by Acting Edcuation Commissioner Christopher Cerf is expected by January 17.