Residents Plan Anti-Charter School Rally For Friday
The rally is opposing the Mandarin-immersion charter school that would draw students from South Orange, Maplewood and West Orange.
With the latest application by the Hua Mei in the process, some Maplewood, West Orange and South Orange residents are joining together to fight it.
On Friday, January 6 at 4:30 p.m.,residents will be meeting at the Maplewood Community Center in DeHart Park to protest the application. More than 1,500 residents have already signed a petition that asks Acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf to reject Hua Mei’s application, something that has happened before.
In September, Hua Mei was not one of the charter school applications accepted by the New Jersey Board of Education. The group came back with an amended application that removed Millburn and Livingston as districts to be served. The previous application had met with substantial opposition from the Livingston and Millburn districts.
Residents who thought the battle was over were dismayed at the reapplication.
“I couldn’t believe it because it felt like my community was trapped in some kind of bad TV sitcom,” Marian Raab, a Maplewood mother of two young children and one of the organizers of the rally, said in a news release. “The state had just rejected this school’s application earlier this year after the vast majority of local residents came out against it.”
The rally is expected to attract local elected officials as well. The release touted appearances by State Senator Richard Codey, Assemblywoman Mila Jasey and Assemblyman John McKeon. The three legislators are among the sponsors of a bill that would allow either voters or a district’s board of school estimates to vote on charter school applications. The measure has passed the Assembly and is awaiting consideration in the Senate.
“This is a scary example of how the charter school movement has gone off the rails,” Raab continued in the statement. “Right now, local school districts in New Jersey have absolutely NO control over which charter schools can open in their towns, even though those schools would drain significant funding from already cash-strapped and stressed public school budgets. This is terrible public policy that must be changed to give control back to local residents.”