Head of HoLa charter school responds to Hoboken superintendent's post
May 02, 2014 | 1474 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HOBOKEN -- Earlier this week, the superintendent of the Hoboken schools posted a letter on the district webpage in response to an ongoing controversy. The school district has retained a lawyer to try to invalidate the state's recent approval of an expansion for the HoLa charter school to eighth grade.

On Thursday, a HoLa representative responded to Superintendent Mark Toback's letter, which we posted on this page.

To read past articles on this controversy, see linked stories below. Also see this weekend's print edition of the Hoboken Reporter for more letters on the controversy.

If you want to submit a letter, send it to editorial@hudsonreporter.com, keep it to under 500 words, and include your name and address for verification.

Got comments? Leave them below.

HoLa's response:

Dear Residents,

Yesterday, our city’s superintendent posted a letter that claimed that there “is no lawsuit against HoLa.”

This is factually incorrect.

While the Hoboken Superintendent of Schools posted a copy of the petition against the Department of Education and HoLa, he failed to provide a copy of the Notice of Appeal filed with the New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division, by the attorney for the Board of Education on April 14, 2014.

This is most certainly a lawsuit. To call a challenge against a state agency’s determination – a determination ultimately reviewable in the New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division, anything less than a lawsuit is unconscionably misleading.

By filing its appeal against the Department of Education and HoLa over our expansion approval, the Hoboken Board of Education set into motion a very expensive litigation process that is costing taxpayers money to prosecute and to defend. The Hoboken Board of Ed trustees voted in March to spend at least $20,000 for litigation costs expressly to try to use legal avenues to stop HoLa students from staying with us until 8th grade, and HoLa must spend its taxpayer funded per-pupil revenue meant for instruction on legal costs instead.

This is a terrible situation for our students and for Hoboken taxpayers and we sincerely hope the Hoboken Board of Education will stop immediately by dropping this expensive lawsuit.

HoLa (Hoboken Dual Language Charter School) is a free, public charter school that went through a rigorous vetting process with the Department of Education to receive approval to expand to become a K-8 school, from a K-6 school. Last month, the World Languages section of the state education department named HoLa a model school for 2014, an incredibly prestigious designation in the state of New Jersey based on our successful results in teaching children in two languages—Spanish and English. Indeed, according to state test results, HoLa ranks in the 99th percentile among our state peer group in academic achievement. (Those tests are taken in English.) All around, we have a very successful public school—that operates on half of the per-pupil taxpayer funding that the Hoboken district operates on.

The Board of Education, by filing its lawsuit, is claiming that HoLa’s expansion will have “a significant impact” on the children attending the district schools.

It is important that residents take a close look at the facts regarding that statement. HoLa’s expansion will have ZERO impact on Hoboken’s school district FY 2015 budget (the budget they are voting on next week). Indeed, the expansion has ZERO impact until FY 2016 because our current 5th graders won’t get to 7th grade until then. Once they do, in FY 2016, the impact that first year is $198,000 (18 students X $11,000 per pupil revenue). By 2018, when we have a class of 7th and 8th graders, the incremental impact will be less than $500,000. Overall, Hoboken public schools spend $64 million. HoLa’s expansion represents well less than 1% of that. To say that it is HoLa’s expansion—and not the 99% of other costs—that will impact the district defies mathematical logic.

HoLa educates 10% of the public school population in Hoboken, yet only uses 4.6% of the overall public school budget to do so.

Finally, the lawsuit claims that HoLa’s expansion will have a segregative effect on the city’s schools. Because every year we have over 250 applicants for just 44 spots in Kindergarten, HoLa students are subject to a random lottery by state law. HoLa is hopeful that the state will allow us to preference low-income students in next year’s lottery. Even though we are subject to a random lottery, however, our student population demographics mirror the city’s population in terms of poverty status. And, we educate double the percentage of Hispanic students as the city’s overall Hispanic population.

Residents should be very concerned about this lawsuit. On Tuesday, May 6, the Board of Ed will approve an increase to taxpayers of 4% and claim that at least part of that is due to HoLa. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Sincerely,

Barbara Martinez

Board President

Hoboken Dual Language Charter School


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