Hebrew charter school prevails in state Supreme Court

Hebrew charter school prevails in state Supreme Court

Decision ends dispute with East Brunswick Board of Education

Hatikvah International Academy Hebrew-language charter school has prevailed in its two-year battle with the East Brunswick Board of Education, after the state Supreme Court rejected the board’s appeal of a decision involving enrollment requirements.

The March 31 rejection cannot be appealed further and was hailed by Hatikvah officials for bringing a conclusion to a long legal battle.

“We are extremely grateful to the Supreme Court for seeing through this baseless case and upholding our right to provide an excellent educational option for the parents in our community who are interested in a high-quality dual-language experience,” said Hatikvah board member and spokeswoman Pam Mullin.

The state’s first Hebrew-language charter school opened last year for grades K-2 in rented space at the Trinity Presbyterian Church on Cranbury Road.

The board of education first challenged the charter school in August 2010, contending the school lacked the required 97 students, or 90 percent of its projected enrollment as mandated by the state. It maintained that former education commissioner Bret Schundler overstepped his authority by allowing the school to open despite not meeting the enrollment mandate.

On Dec. 21, 2011, a three-judge state appeals court ruled there was no reason “to second guess the final decision” by Schundler granting a four-year initial approval for the school to open. It said state agencies have wide latitude to interpret their own rules, and that the approval stood even if enrollment figures declined after approval was granted.

In January, Hatikvah filed a request to force the board to make public the costs of its legal fight.

Lori Ginsberg, a Hatikvah founder with daughters in the first grade at Hatikvah and fourth grade at Warnsdorfer elementary school, told NJJN, “It’s time for the board of education to focus on the job at hand, which is educating our children. I see the difference in the education of my children. The board has spent so much time and money focusing on this one school with 100 students, it’s embarrassing.”

Mullin said she hoped the ruling would allow the two sides to “get on with our shared mission of providing great schools for every child in our town.”

Hatikvah plans to add a grade annually; it currently offers up to third grade.

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