The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) announced on Monday the approval of nine charter schools that will open in September. Notably, two fully online, or "virtual," charter schools, the New Jersey Virtual Charter School and the N.J. Virtual Academy Charter School, were granted approval for a "planning year," rather than permission to open this fall. The former, to be operated by the Monmouth-Ocean Educational Services Commission, had requested the additional planning year, according to news reports. The other proposed virtual charter school, which would be based in Newark and would draw students throughout the state, planned to open in September.
In June, A-3105, legislation that would place a one-year moratorium on the creation of online charter schools and would establish a virtual charter school task force to make recommendations for the governance structure of cyber-charter schools, passed the Assembly Education Committee. That legislation reflected a vote by NJSBA's membership at the May 19 Delegate Assembly that called on the state not to consider cyber-charter school applications until it has clear guidelines for their establishment, funding and operation. New Jersey's charter school law, enacted in 1995, is silent on the matter of cyber-charter schools.
On July 10, NJSBA joined a group of other New Jersey education groups, in a letter to Acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf asking him not to give final approval to online charter schools until several legal matters were clarified.
Schools Approved The schools granted final approval in the July 16 announcement: City Invincible Charter School (Camden); Knowledge A to Z Charter School (Camden); Thomas Edison Energy Charter School (Franklin Township, including Somerset, North Brunswick, South Brunswick); Beloved Charter School (Jersey City); Merit Preparatory of Newark Charter School (Newark); Paulo Freire Charter School (Newark); 100 Legacy (Newark, Irvington); and Benjamin Banneker (Willingboro). The approvals bring the final number of charter schools in New Jersey to 86.
Schools Granted a Planning Year In addition to the two virtual schools, 11 additional schools received approval for a planning year: Atlantic City Community Charter School (Atlantic City); Charter School for Global Leadership (Camden); Camden Community Charter School (Camden); Hope Community Charter School (Camden City); Excellence Charter School (Camden); Arete Charter School (East Orange, Orange); Jersey City Global Charter School (Jersey City); Forest Hill Charter School (Newark); Trenton Scholars Charter School (Trenton); Merit Preparatory of Trenton Charter School (Trenton City); and Compass Academy Charter School (Vineland).
Schools Denied Final Approval Ten schools were denied final approval: Regis Academy Charter School (Cherry Hill); DREAM Prep Academy (Jersey City); Promise CS for Excellence (Linden, Elizabeth, Roselle); Lillie Mae Jenkins Charter School (Newark); New Day Charter H.S. (Newark); Spirit Prep (Newark); Bright Horizons (Penns Grove, Carney's Point); Princeton International Academy Charter School (South Brunswick, Princeton Regional, West Windsor-Plainsboro); Shalom Academy Charter School (Teaneck); and Willingboro Academy Charter School (Willingboro).