It is deeply troubling that public charter and renaissance schools are singled out as the only schools in New Jersey being denied access to critical security funding grants. Amid a rise in hate crimes around the country, including the recent attack in Jersey City, it is more important than ever we work to ensure all of our schools and all of our students are safe
That’s Harry Lee, President of the New Jersey Charter School Association, responding to rules just proposed by the NJ DOE regarding a new form of grants for non-traditional schools. These grants come from the “Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act,” approved by New Jersey voters in November 2018, and disperses money for school security and safety.
Unless that school is a public charter school.
This was not the intent of the legislation. Two sponsors of the referendum, Senators Steven Oroho and Anthony Bucco, wrote to Murphy last May, “Students attending public charter schools are public school students and we want to ensure that every school is safe for children attending them.”
Gov. Murphy, upon signing the legislation, remarked, “our administration is tasked with the vital responsibility of ensuring the safety and security of all New Jerseyans.”
And, in fact, said Lee, “the legislation did not create a secondary class of public school students. Without access to critical security funding, the public safety of 54,000 charter school students is at risk.” He added,
“If implemented, the DOE proposal would not only prioritize the safety of some students over other students, it would also amount to an unfunded State mandate and put a further strain on already-depleted public charter school budgets. As is, on average, public charter schools receive more than $4,000 less per pupil than their district peers and zero dollars for their school facilities. This must be fixed.”
For those of you following along, Lakewood Public Schools–the Ocean County district that privileges private school ultra-Orthodox Jewish students over the district’s 4,500 Latino students, received $33,785,962 in “Non-Public Security Aid” this past year. Yet the Murphy Administration’s DOE, despite legislative and voter intent, casts off charter school students —who are overwhelming black, brown, and low-income—as just so much dross.
Click here for NJCSA’s full comments.