The Latino Coalition of New Jersey has requested that the the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education conduct an investigation into the Princeton Charter School’s enrollment policies and reverse what the group alleges is segregation by income, English proficiency, race and ethnicity. The group has also voiced its opposition to the school’s expansion with the New Jersey Department of Education and has demanded that the state close the school because of the alleged segregation.
“This segregation is apparent when comparing the Princeton Charter School to the entire Princeton Public Schools district. The segregation is even more apparent when comparing the Princeton Charter School to student enrollment in K-8 grades at Princeton Public Schools, which are the same grades served by the charter school,” reads the complaint.
The complaint alleges that the school has been consistently segregated by special needs status since the school’s creation, segregated by English proficiency for the ten years that data has been tracked by the New Jersey Department of Education, segregated by income since the 2001-02 academic year, and segregated by race for almost its entire existence. The complaint claims Princeton Charter School’s segregation by race and income has worsened over the last decade.
As of the 2015-16 academic year, only three percent of the Princeton Charter School’s students are Latino versus 13 percent of the school district’s enrollment, only three percent of the charter school’s students are black versus six percent of the school district’s enrollment, according to the group, which references charts posted on the Keep PPS Strong Facebook page created by Julia Sass Rubin, a Princeton resident and professor at Rutgers University who is one of the founders of Save Our Schools NJ.
“The enrollment data is skewed in the opposite direction when it comes to the Asian population. Approximately 18 percent of the students attending Princeton Public Schools are Asian versus 31 percent of the students at the Princeton Charter School,” reads the complaint. “The only population at the Princeton Charter School that is represented in demographic proportion to the Princeton Public Schools district is the White population. Whites make up 58 percent of the school district population and 54 percent of the student population at the charter school.”
The Princeton Charter School was swift to issue a statement saying the complaint was designed to improperly influence the New Jersey Department of Education’s decision on the charter school expansion request. Charter school representatives said the coalition defamed the school and its families in the complaint.
“Unfortunately, this is exactly the same baseless complaint this same organization has filed against other charter schools in Monmouth and Middlesex counties in recent weeks. The pattern is obvious – the organization identifies a high-performing charter school with a pending expansion request with the New Jersey Department of Education and in the days before a decision is rendered, puts out a press release alleging civil rights violations,” said Larry Patton, head of the Princeton Charter School. “It is telling that this Monmouth-based organization never met with Princeton Charter to learn the full story and our efforts. It simply parroted the district’s allegations and sent them to newspapers. That’s no way to create more educational opportunities for the children they claim to represent. We invite dialogue with those looking to work productively to solve problems rather than generating headlines.”
Patton said Princeton Charter School enrolls its students through an open lottery system in full compliance with Department of Education regulations.
“We are exceptionally proud of our diverse student population and the outstanding academic outcomes our school achieves,” he said. “We categorically deny all of these unsubstantiated allegations and look forward to defending our school, and our families, against every single one of these frivolous claims.”
In December, the charter school petitioned the state to amend its charter and expand by 76 students. The school also requested that it be allowed to use a weighted lottery to benefit economically disadvantaged students. The state first approved a request for a charter school to weight its lottery in December of 2015. Previously weighted lotteries were not allowed.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story had the following paragraph, which Julia Sass Rubin took issue with (we’ve added strikethroughs below, plus additions in parentheses.
As of the 2015-16 academic year, only three percent of the Princeton Charter School’s students are Latino versus 13 percent of the school district’s enrollment, only three percent of the charter school’s students are black versus six percent of the school district’s enrollment, according to the group, which references
data and charts from Julia Sass Rubin, a Princeton resident and professor at Rutgers University w ho opposes charter schools and (co added) founded Save Our Schools (NJ added).
Rubin says she is not the founder, but one of several founders of Save Our Schools. Her address is used on IRS forms for Save Our Schools and elsewhere she has been referred to as the founder of Save Our Schools. When asked by Planet Princeton whether she opposes charter schools or not, Rubin did not answer and questioned why her position on charter schools is relevant (in a story on charter schools for a civil complaint that cites her data extensively). She also questioned why she is cited at all in the article. Rubin asked if we could defend the above paragraph in court. After a back and forth and extensive comment on the Planet Princeton Facebook page all day, an education blogger wrote a post about the exchange on the blog NJ Left Behind. Rubin then deleted most of her Facebook posts on Planet Princeton.