The Princeton Public Schools has filed a lawsuit against the Princeton Charter School in Mercer County Superior Court claiming that the charter school violated the Open Public Meetings Act, commonly known as the Sunshine Law, when the charter school’s trustees voted last month to seek an amendment to the charter and increase enrollment.
The Princeton Public Schools Board of Education is seeking an order from the courts voiding the charter school’s action as a result of the alleged violations.
“While the Princeton Public Schools believes that this action is necessary to protect the taxpayers and the school district, it remains willing to work with the Princeton Charter School to find a way to creatively and amicably resolve any issues between the parties in the best interests of the students and taxpayers,” reads a statement from the school district’s lawyer.
“I continue to believe that honest, open, and creative conversation with the Princeton Charter School is the surest path towards positive resolution. We are pursuing that,” Superintendent of Schools Steve Cochrane told Planet Princeton. “Nevertheless, the board and I feel a duty to also pursue all legal avenues to protect the financial and educational interests of the district.”
The school board contends that the charter school did not comply with the Open Public Meetings Act when it took action to pass the resolution on Nov. 28 to amend the school’s charter and increase its enrollment by 76 students.
“In essence we are claiming that the community was not properly informed that the PCS Trustees were intending to take action to approve an application to increase the school’s enrollment, and that as a result, the court should invalidate that action,” Cochrane said.
If the charter school’s application with the state to increase enrollment and use a weighted lottery system that gives lower income students more chances in the lottery is rejected because of the alleged violations, the charter school could be required to wait until 2018 to reapply. A new administration at the state level would likely not be as supportive of charter schools, thus increasing the chances that the expansion application would be rejected. The delay would also give the school district an additional year before more of its revenue must be paid to the charter school.