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Councilwoman: School District Should Invest Funds in Classrooms, Not Lawsuit

Beth Mason criticizes Board of Education's suit against HoLa.

Beth Mason (Patch file photo)
Beth Mason (Patch file photo)
A city councilwoman on Monday called for the Board of Education to drop its lawsuit against Hoboken's Dual Language Charter School.

Beth Mason said the school district should focus on conserving resources and investing funds into classrooms.

“It is very unfortunate that the Hoboken Board of Education is wasting precious resources on a politically charged lawsuit, instead of using this money in classrooms to improve the learning environment for our students and teachers," Mason said in a statement.

"Our children should not be forced to stand in two lines with one versus the other, public school student versus charter school student, but rather in one circle where each student is given the opportunity to pursue his or her dreams. The Board of Education should drop this lawsuit immediately. Two Board Trustees, Peter Biancamano and Frances Rhodes-Kearns, objected to the lawsuit, but their concerns were ignored by Board of Education President Leon Gold."

The district filed a lawsuit on April 14 against the Hoboken Dual Language Charter School (HoLa) and the state Department of Education, calling the state's approval of the school's charter and expansion "not valid," according to NJ.com.

Hoboken claims the approval should be reversed because the state's Department of Education chief innovation officer made the decision and not the department's commissioner, according to the report.

Mason criticized Gold for stating HoLa is creating a "white flight" and causing "segregation" to occur in Hoboken.

"Leon Gold’s statements are disappointing and disturbing,” Mason said. “Even worse these statements trivialize the struggle that occurred to integrate schools and classrooms, during a time period when a person’s skin color determined which water fountain he or she could drink from.

"The idea of accusing parents who send their children to a dual language school, which was founded on the premise of educating students in a multicultural environment, of being proponents of segregation is absolutely absurd. Mr. Gold should apologize for these insensitive remarks immediately."

The councilwoman also questioned why the district would spend money on the lawsuit when its budget poses a 4 percent tax increase and calls for 54 layoffs, according to Mason's statement.

"Why would the BOE waste precious resources on needless litigation, instead of using the money to raise educational standards and create an overall better district for Hoboken students,” Mason said.
pdq April 30, 2014 at 05:07 PM
Disgusting ignorant comments. Private schools dont teach large amounts of poor at risk children or children with severe special education needs. People should think before they post such insulting and ignorant comments.
Outofcontrol April 30, 2014 at 06:51 PM
HoLa should be a bit more forthcoming and explain why so many of their parents have been paying Hoboken BOE teachers to tutor their kids just to help them get passing grades. Yup, it's one of those dirty little secrets they don't like us to know. If the Hoboken Public Schools are so bad, why would the HoLa parents turn to those teachers to do what the HoLa teachers apparently can't do? Maybe it's so they can have the best of both worlds...their own little private school and the benefit of real professionals bailing out their kids from the academic hole. HoLa should talk about the numerous former Hoboken BOE administrators who have been brought in from time to time to help get the academy out of numerous jams. Seems to me that their reliance on HBOE staff is an indication that the only thing they don't like about the Public Schools may just be the kids.
Joe May 01, 2014 at 03:20 PM
Hola Dad here. Plain and simple, We have moved our kids to HoLa for the immersion language model. We moved them mid-year after being on the wait list and the kids had to catch up with the Spanish Language. They have done so and they very much enjoy going to the school. We very much desire for them to be able to continue to learn in this manner. The money HoLa receives as a public school is less than other public schools receive per student. There are differences in the programs offered between the schools and that explains some of that difference. To us, we valued the immersion model and are happy with the programs offered by HoLa, despite that lower funding. Again, plain and simple, we choose to move our kids here and we want them to stay. We are tax payers in Hoboken. We want the BOE to drop this law suit that wastes funds for both sets of schools.
pdq May 02, 2014 at 09:42 AM
Joe, I appreciate your honesty and dedication. I must point one factually incorrect item you note: "The money HoLa receives as a public school is less than other public schools receive per student." This is incorrect. Each charter school student receives the same amount of funding (for k-5 that amount is $12,300). Charter school students who are eligible for additional state aid (like special education aid and title one aid) get an additional amount. Due to Hola's small special needs population and students eligible for low income aid, it receives correstponding entitlement aid. Hols can rectify the lower amounts of state and Federal entitlement aid by seeking higher enrollments of special needs and students in poverty. This ultimately, as is the case with districts, it would drive student costs much higher. While I appreciate that you would like a specially designed school to whatever grade you would like your child to continue his/her education, the appeal of the state's decision has larger impacts. It could save local taxpayers money, which would not be a waste of funds. Accordingly, the state may choose to stay it's approval and address the financial impacts by providing state aid to help offset the financial impacts to the local taxpayers and students attending district schools. The state may also choose to deal with the student population issues that current charter law is creating.
Joe May 02, 2014 at 10:35 AM
I am sorry PDQ, I think you misunderstood me. I wasn't comparing the funding among charter schools. I was stating that I was willing to accept the lower funding that HoLa as a charter school currently receives versus the per pupil spending of the non-charter schools. The value of the immersion model far out weighed the out-sized spending of the non-charter schools, TO MY FAMILY. I don't expect everyone to make that choice, as I pointed out, it was a struggle for us to move children who didn't speak Spanish mid year. Thankfully the school worked out really well with their transition. They are thriving and the BOE should not be funding a lawsuit that seeks to harm a school model that is working!

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