The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled this week that the state’s education commissioner has the final say on whether or not to approve charter school applications.
At issue was an appeal from the charter school group, Quest Academy, which brought the case to the court after its application to open a school in Montclair, N.J., was rejected in 2011. The group has applied for—and been denied—a charter six times. The education commissioner’s decision can only be overturned if it is ruled “arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable,” and the court voted 6-0 that it was not.
“The commissioner’s decision to deny Quest Academy’s application was amply supported by the record,” the judges write in their ruling. “The court does not second-guess the educational judgements expressed in the commissioner’s amplification.”
The ruling was hailed by Michael Yaple, the spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Education, according to an article on NJ.com. Yaple said the decision reaffirmed the state’s “nation-leading charter review process that focuses on the quality of the school and the need for the program within the community.”
However, in its Dec. 17 newsletter, the pro-school-choice group Center for Education Reform re-asserted that the school’s application was “unfairly denied” and added that the proposal “epitomizes the ‘mom and pop’ aspiring school operation the state should be encouraging.”
On a housekeeping note, posting will be light on the blog over the next couple of weeks as I take some time off to enjoy the holidays. I’ll be back Jan. 2.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Charters & Choice blog.