The founders of the proposed Quest Academy Charter High School in Montclair have been rejected a fifth time by the state Department of Education.
One of the Quest founders, Tracey Williams, said she was told by state officials that there were deficiencies in the application submitted by Quest in the fall.
"I don't know what those deficiencies were," Williams said.
Williams said the letter from the state said that the Quest founders would find out on Jan. 24 why their application was denied.
The Quest application had been strongly criticized by Montclair Superintendent Dr. Frank Alvarez, as well as by many parents in Montclair. They feared the school would siphon money away from the public high school.
At an anti-charter school rally in Maplewood earlier this month, Montclair resident Stan Karp spoke about how Montclair schools had often been cited as a national model of quality integrated public education.
An application to open the Quest charter school had been a finalist after being rejected four times in the past.
Karp and other critics said that, if approved, the charter school would have drawn over $2 million from the district budget.
But Williams and other Quest supporters said that the charter school would offer smaller class sizes and individualized instruction and would give Montclair parents a choice when it comes to their kids' education.
Although the state denied the Quest application, the Department of Education on Friday announced the approval of eight charter applications eligible to open in September 2012. These eight options will help to ensure that every student in New Jersey, regardless of zip code, has a high-quality school option available to them, state officials said.
"Since Governor Christie took office, we have committed to being unapologetically impatient when students do not have access to the high-quality school options that they deserve," said Acting Commissioner Chris Cerf. "The applications we approved today have demonstrated a strong educational program and the capacity to implement that program, in addition to articulating a clearly defined need for the school in their specific community."
Among the applications approved were those for schools in Trenton, Camden, Newark, and Jersey City.
In addition, the charter school school application for Hua Mei in Maplewood was denied by Cerf Friday afternoon, school officials confirmed with Patch.
The long-awaited decision comes after by residents in West Orange, Maplewood and South Orange.
The Mandarin-immersion school, proposed to be located in Maplewood, would have drawn students from the South Orange-Maplewood School District and West Orange School District.
Hua Mei, though, is no stranger to rejection as the school was when only four of 55 charter school applications were approved. Hua Mei , no longer listing Millburn, Livingston and Union among the "in-district" school districts from which they would draw.
Laura Lab, West Orange board of education president, praised the news, "I'm very happy the commissioner made this decision, it just makes sense."
Maplewood Board of Education President Beth Daugherty told Patch in an email that the decision was "great news." She said all of the suburban charter school applications were rejected, and eight urban charter schools approved.
West Orange Superintendent of Schools Dr. Anthony Cavanna said he was pleased with the decision but worried the charter could reapply in the spring. Cavanna said he hoped the legislature would "look at alternate ways of funding charter schools."
This is a breaking news story, continue to check Patch for more information.