Latino Coalition of NJ files federal civil rights complaint against Princeton Charter School

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 who 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.


  1. Maybe the coalition’s time can be better spent mentoring and encouraging children of their constituents to apply for admission to the PCS. (Does it understand that part of the Charter School’s recent proposal is to over represent disadvantaged applicants in the lottery?)

    But rolling up one’s sleeves and actually helping children learn is much harder than filing a lawsuit – especially here, where the pleadings appear to be already on the coalition’s lawyers’ hard drive.

    Complaining, protesting & accusing others of being racist is much easier (and more fun).

    Victimhood today just ain’t what it used to be.

    1. Well, here is an interesting strategy to attract the group in question….insult them for not applying to your school, Accuse them of not knowing how to help their own kids, complain about them exercising a constitutional right, then tell them they are complaining to much and should stop crying.

      Can’t imagine why they aren’t eager to throw their names into the lottery.

      1. I’m pretty sure Robert Dana is referring to the victimhood that the powers that be at PPS are heaping on minorities. Has it occurred to anybody at KeepPPSStrong
        that by spreading constant propaganda of iffy provenance and whisper
        campaigns (such as free and reduced lunch kids only get a microwave meal
        at PCS, or that there’s no afterschool [not only is there, but it’s cheaper and with tutors/teachers better-staffed than the Y’s) – you are infantilizing the parents of the very English
        Language Learners you profess to want to help? Why not let each system
        stand on its merits, and let parents make the choice? Has it not
        occurred to you that it’s second-order racism of quite a degree to
        manufacture a situation so ELL parents will feel forced in one direction
        – all because you have decided you know better than they do what’s good
        for their own children?

        Maybe THAT’S why they won’t throw their names in the lottery – because they’re being subjected to a constant barrage of propaganda by people interested in keeping their names in the spotlight, who believe they have the One True Writ on what is best for all children – rather than those children’s parents.

        So you’re a new immigrant in town and trying to fit in. And here come the mayor, the former BoE president, the JW PTO president, and a Harvard professor all telling you that PCS not only isn’t good, but will be downright wicked to your children. What a choice! Shame on you all for propagating this second-order racism, which has the added bonus of keeping some attention-seeking names in the news indefinitely.

        1. Wow, I didn’t realize I still lived in Texas!! Calling concerns about justice and segregation “racist” is an old ploy that does not address the substance of the argument. You can throw all the verbiage you want to deflect from the problem, but Charter is more segregated than PPS, period. Based on their own numbers. And the law requires it to serve underserved populations just as does PPS. There has been nothing to prevent Charter from having a weighted lottery, rather than filling the school with siblings just like a private school.

          1. Since you’re copying and pasting from Facebook, I will, too, to show how you are unequivocally wrong on every point (all this before, of course, you implied I would be sued for libel by parties unspecified)

            How you are wrong… let us count the ways:
            1) It was just a very recent change in NJ law that allowed for weighted lotteries. So as a point of fact, you are dead wrong.
            2) Do you trust minorities to be presented with information by both sides
            or not? If not, you are infantilizing them, and saying your judgment,
            ipso facto, is better than theirs. So check yourself.
            I’m guessing you haven’t had much experience with independent (private)
            schools, but newsflash: you get in on your merits, not on your
            siblings’ record. This is NOT the case at PCS, where it’s a straight
            sibling preference. Which, by the by – and I know this might be tough,
            but hang in there – if you extrapolate over five years, will result in,
            perhaps, PCS even being OVERWEIGHTED ELLs.

            Is there anything else you’d like to add to this babbling of yours?

            If so, scream it into the void. I’m out. Life’s too precious to waste on idiocy.

            1. 1- regardless of when weighted lotteries were allowed PCS does not represent the community.

              2- Information, regardless of the side it comes from, won’t help get into a system that by default favors some applicants over others. This is the system our charter school is working with. This sort of flawed system is why affirmative action quotas were implemented in other admissions systems, and why they are probably needed to balance charter enrollment.

              3- Extrapolation out five years is a gamble with no guarantee of correcting PCS’ student population. What would be useful is for PCS to present past admission numbers and run test examples with and without the proposed weighting.

              1. At the risk of being called all kinds of names, let me simply point out the obvious: The interest among parents in the kind of focus that the charter school provides is just different among different demographics. Why doesn’t anyone congratulate them on having an over representation of the Asian minority?

                1. Because it’s become quietly acceptable to be just a little racist toward Asians, or at least put them lower down on the race hierarchy than black and Latino. Not having to scrape and struggle as immigrants sure would be news to many Asians I know and have known, but let’s call this as it is. PCS, like PPS, is about 55% white. It’s 30-some-odd percent Asian. So the arbiters of social acceptability in Princeton have decided that kids of Asian descent don’t reflect the right kind of diversity. It’s 2 for 1 racism: first order in implying that Asians do not count as a minority or diversity, and second order in implying that blacks and Latinos can’t be trusted to make decisions for their own kids without a lot of propaganda thrown at them from day one.

                  @disqus_9oaKjiRznl:disqus – you have been a pretty reasonable commenter, and I don’t necessarily mean you personally. My problem with your marble analogy is not whether it’s right or wrong, but why the marbles aren’t there in the first place, and I think there’s a strong case to be made that it’s the successful result of a propaganda machine.

                  1. People are pointing out how PCS has failed to represent our community’s demographics for the last 20 years. To claim this critique is racist against Asians is a mystifying leap of logic. As to your second point of “2 for 1 racism,” all applicants to PCS are capable of making their own decisions. However, not all applicants have the same chance of acceptance, even after adding the proposed two tries.

                    Regarding your “why the marbles aren’t there in the first place.” Two things aren’t clear to me:

                    1 – Is PCS’ applicant pool more diverse than the enrolled students? If so, why?

                    2 – Is PCS’ applicant pool not as diverse as our community? If so, why?

                    I could hazard reasons for these questions, but I would expect PCS has the data to quickly answer both questions, and probably build some system to fix either problem. Obviously community outreach, at least in the form they have been pursuing, is lacking.

                    While it’s probably satisfying on some level to blame PPS for a “propaganda machine” that is discouraging a diverse student body at PCS, I don’t see ANY evidence that backs that up.

                    1. Then I would suggest putting your ear to the ground and listening for whispering campaigns against feeding children eligible for free/reduced lunch, for aftercare, for ELL, for any number of things. As the Patron Saint of Charter Questioning, Julia Sass Rubin, has said herself – poor parents often don’t have the bandwidth to run through all those choices. So why make one seem so very evil? Why not let each system stand on its merits? Heck – why not make district pre-K addresses available to PCS, so it can actively recruit? There’s only one reason not to, and it’s nothing to do with outcome… it’s to do with money.

                      The PPS strategy appears to be to make up out of whole cloth teacher-firing bogeymen who then will single out minority students at PCS and make them feel less-than, all while not feeding them. This is the scuttle, and this is what a lot of parents like myself are so damn sick of – the baselessness, the needless hurt, the lies, and frankly, the GODDAM SELFISHNESS of a district who’s so cranky that on a $95 million dollar budget it wants to fight over $15k pre kid who might do better at Charter than at PPS, and who can always return (with a monetary refund) to PPS if it doesn’t work out.

                      And I think you quite misjudge me. (Pardon Krystal) I don’t give a rat’s ass who might be exposed as racist, or wedded to tax dollars, or anything else. I want the best outcome for each student. So why does PPS behave as though it has the One True Writ on this? Why does PPS effectively infantilize parents of color? Maybe this question is a generation too soon, but you can bet it will be coming from not just me.

                    2. I don’t know first hand about the whisper campaigns, but I am starting to get the feeling that PPS does plenty of evil things, for example recently came across the article on about “an inconvenient child”. But in general I don’t think one can or should expect perfect demographic parity between PPS and PCS. Some parents might reasonably conclude that their children would be further behind compared to the average in PCS. Or they don’t want to supervise more homework and perhaps want their children to have more time to pursue sports or other interests. PCS should be welcoming to all who apply and they probably try. But beyond that one cannot expect them to eliminate differences between demographic groups. I fail to see how a lottery is not a fair system. The sibling preference only skews toward families with more children, which might actually help some underrepresented groups.

                    3. I haven’t heard first-hand the whispers, but I am beginning to believe that PPS does plenty of evil things. Recently came across the story about “An inconvenient child” posted on aeon. The response to the court decision by Mr. Cochrane in TownTopics is priceless and the school principal is still the same.
                      But regarding PCS demographics, I don’t think it can or should be expected to match exactly PPS. Some parents might reasonably conclude that their children will be further behind relative to the average at PCS. Some might not want to supervise more homework or want to have more time for their children to pursue sports or other activities. PCS should be welcoming to all and I believe that they try. But they can’t be expected to eliminate all differences between demographic groups when it comes to academics. And I fail to see the argument why the lottery is not fair. The sibling preference skews toward families with more children, which might actually help some disadvantaged groups.

                      Beyond that the problem is that there may be only 1-2 minority children in a class (corresponding correctly to their fairly small representation in the community as a whole and smaller still in the applicant pool). This can obviously lead to social problems and increased drop-out rate. Well, the solution is … to increase the number of students overall and implement weighted admission.

                    4. Just so I’m clear, you’re saying PPS has run a “propaganda machine” “whisper campaign” against PCS, alleging they don’t feed children eligible for free/reduced lunches, provide aftercare or ELL, etc.?

                      I’m sorry, but I don’t see this. I haven’t encountered this during my many years as a resident, during my many years as a PRS parent, during the many arguments I’ve read about PPS/PCS, during the many discussions I’ve had with other parents and residents, or during the meetings I’ve attended or watched online.

                      I have seen misunderstandings on both sides. I’ve seen garbled points and arguments on both sides. I have seen irrational and rational discussions on both sides. But I haven’t seen an orchestrated campaign to terrorize or discourage members of our community into never applying to PCS.

                      I do think that arguing PPS is infantilizing groups in our town because realities of a flawed system are being discussing is an argument that defeats itself. If the system is flawed, and I believe it is, averting our eyes and telling people to just keep trying is an insult to them. Either all applicants compete on a level playing field, or we call out the inherent inequality.

                      Now, as I have said before, it may be that the applicant pool is extremely diverse, in which case we should understand why the selection doesn’t reflect this. It may also be that the applicant pool isn’t diverse. If this is the case we should understand why it is. PCS could answer many questions by releasing their applicant pool data, if they are allowed to by law. Just because they have 125 or so families “on hold” tells us nothing about potential applicants.

                    5. I know one family whose kids are ostracized by former friends for making the switch. I’ve constantly gotten these kinds of questions, and they’re coming from somewhere. Perhaps I’m more attuned because I am a member of the PCS community, so I see the PR blitz more steadily than someone who isn’t.

                2. What exactly does PCS focus on that interests only certain demographics?

                  I don’t think having a disproportionate amount of one demographic excuses failing in other demographics.

              2. On point 2 – huh? The “system” doesn’t favor anybody. It’s numbered balls in a lottery spinner. The *environment,* however, certainly influences families on whether or not to put those balls in that spinner. Stop spreading disinformation ranging from propaganda to lies, and then let’s see what happens, if we want to have a fair control group.

                1. I don’t believe I have spread disinformation, propaganda, and lies.

                  The idea that a random lottery is unbiased is incorrect. I can re-post the several times I have explained why the lottery favors denser demographics groups, but I think you’re already familiar with them.

        2. I’ve lived here a long time, and have never heard that PCS isn’t very good or would be downright wicked to your children. And I’m not hearing it now. I’m hearing the argument that PCS does not demographically represent our community and as a public school using public funds, maybe it ought to.

          1. Really? Because I get crazy questions asked of me all the time (“Why don’t free and reduced lunch get the same meal other kids do?” – they do; “What do working parents do without aftercare?” – there is; “PCS needs a makeover or a shutdown as we felt unwelcome” – a letter by a woman whose husband ran for PCS’s board and lost – the list goes on and on. My position is that it’s not got similar proportions of disadvantaged students because propaganda like this is constantly turned up to full volume, so they don’t enter the lottery. Let each school district stand on its merits, and trust people to make their own decisions about what’s best for their own kids, minus whisper campaigns – or lately, much louder.

        3. You are heading down shaky racist ground yourself, Liz, with your statement about “infantilizing the parents of the very English
          Language Learners you profess to want to help.” You think PPS is whispering in someone’s ear and not allowing parents to make up their own minds? Give me a break. Families look into the best educational opportunity for their kids and have to sort through the narrative both sides are throwing at them. I’d also say that jumping in to support Mr. Dana who is so “weary” of people “finding racism under every rock” doesn’t put you in good light. Mr. DAna made a statement that defines privilege and should not be supported- only called out on it! Racism IS under every rock in this country because we are all steeped in institutionalized racism. Period. And please do NOT throw PCS vs PPS facts and figures back at me, Liz. That is not why I jumped onto this thread.

          1. Martha, the whole point is that disadvantaged communities never get to hear about PCS unless (literally, and they have) PCS goes door to door because 1) PPS won’t share its pre-K rolls, and 2) there are a ton of misconceptions I won’t relitigate yet again here. So no, it’s not me who’s racist (nor am I accusing anyone of being consciously so, but it should be a topic free for discussion). The two choices I see for PPS to take on this point, though, are 1) it hates PCS so much for whatever reason that it doesn’t care about best outcome for a given child, but just wants to keep that child in PPS, or 2) it doesn’t trust families enough to even provide an environment where they are viewed as capable of making the best decisions. Note that JSR herself once said that such families do not have the “bandwidth” to think about alternate school options. Does that sound like belief in the capacity of a family to choose, or not? Say it’s not racism, say it’s well-meaning whatever. But it reminds me mightily of the video circulating during the election interviewing a bunch of white people who thought voter ID laws were racist because black people didn’t have time or knowledge to get IDs, then going to Harlem and finding every single person had a driver’s license and knew where the DMV was. Maybe PPS has the very best of intentions, but by doing so, is not giving families credit they deserve.

      2. I don’t speak for the Princeton Charter School Mx. [R]esident and don’t have a dog in this fight.

        I’m just weary of people finding racism under every rock. It’s a term that is so casually thrown around these days that it has lost much of its erstwhile powerful meaning.

        The uncontested fact is that the PCS is open to all children and has been since it’s inception.

        Even worse, as Ms. Winslow points out, where people – well off people – who should know better use false claims of racism to manipulate a situation for their benefit. It’s not only morally reprehensible but patronizing to the very people they claim to be helping.

        It’s down right Sharptonian!

    2. I don’t speak for the Princeton Charter School Mx. [R]esident and don’t have a dog in this fight.

      I’m just weary of people finding racism under every rock. It’s a term that is so casually thrown around these days that it has lost much of its erstwhile powerful meaning.

      Even worse, as Ms. Winslow points out, where people – well off people – who should know better use false claims of racism to manipulate a situation for their benefit. It’s not only morally reprehensible but patronizing to the very people they claim to be helping.

      It’s down right Sharptonian!

      1. You do understand that racism exists in active and passive form, yes? Hurling a slur to someone’s face is an obvious, active form of racism. However, a system that is flawed in design, preferencing certain members of society over others can also be racist, without necessitating malicious intent. Just because a system is open to all, doesn’t mean all will get the same opportunity.

        1. I understand that some people think that. Its impact has been exaggerated to the point of not being helpful – to the point that everyone’s a victim.

          I also understand, Mx. Phony Name, that the good people of PCS have tried mightily to be inclusive over the years.

          And now – after taking the extraordinary (& arguably Unconstitutional) step of modifying their admission practice from one based on equality of opportunity to one based on equality of result – they have been rewarded by being sued and called racists.

          Incredible. You’d think the Coalition would embrace their efforts!

          1. The Coalition correctly finds fault with a flawed admission system that leads to segregation by demographics. This flawed system is obviously not unique to PCS, but is something many charters suffer from. Despite PCS attempts at inclusivity over the years it obviously has been insufficient to counter this flawed system. Simply adding a “two tries” for certain demographics is unlikely to provide any real change.

  2. Wow. So PCS decides to step outside a fair lottery and asks to use a weighted lottery in order to allow more access to a certain group, and is then sued by that group as being segregated.

    This is why some people see the fights for equal rights to be about special rights.

  3. This is more about Leticia Fraga’s goal of getting nominated by the PCDO for Council and much less about “the children.”

  4. It’s extremely important to note that the same organization filed the same complaints against at least four other charter schools in the past week or so. This filing just threw some “Keep PPS Strong” citations in it. This is not a PCS ax to grind; this is a general charter school ax to grind.

  5. About the weighted lottery, the civil rights complaint said:
    Pag 8.

    The only specific proposal that the Princeton Charter School has made to address the persistent segregation is the use of a weighted lottery to double the chances of low income students being admitted. Princeton Charter School has no specific proposals for increasing its special needs or Limited English Proficient populations.

    The Princeton Charter School’s proposed use of a weighted lottery is very problematic. A weighted lottery cannot be effective if there are no low-income students in the applicant pool. And, the extremely small percentage of low-income students who attend the Princeton Charter School strongly suggests that low income students are not applying for admission.

    The experience of other charter schools with weighted lotteries supports the concern that a weighted lottery on its own will not address the segregation. The HoLA charter school of Hoboken adopted a weighted lottery last year, as part of an expansion application. HoLA proposed that

    ”any child who can provide proof of ONE of the following would get his or her name placed into the lottery twice, rather than once:

    ● Lives in Hoboken public housing;

    ● Lives in Hoboken Section 8 housing;

    ● Child or guardian qualifies for SNAP/TANF benefits, or

    ● Child already qualifies for free or reduced price lunch in his/her current public

    school” (1)

    This is virtually verbatim what the Princeton Charter School has proposed in their expansion application.

    “Any family who can provide evidence of ONE of the following criteria would have its children placed into the lottery twice rather than once:

    1) The child lives in Princeton public housing.

    2) The child lives in Princeton Section 8 housing.

    3) The child or guardian qualifies for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

    (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits.

    4) Thechildalreadyqualifiesforafreeorreducedpricelunchinhisorhercurrent

    public school.”(2)

    The HoLA expansion was granted by the NJDOE and HoLA implemented a weighted lottery in early 2016. Yet in the 2016-17 academic year, the number of Free or Reduced price lunch students attending HoLA actually declined from 42 to 40, even as total enrollment increased by 39 students.
    As with HoLA, a weighted lottery will not address Princeton Charter School’s segregated student population. The Princeton Charter School must address the fact that it is a hostile learning environment for students who are low income, Black, Latino, English Language Learners, or have special needs.

    1. That’s a lovely, extensive cut and paste that does NOTHING to address PCS’s own efforts to increase applicants, up to and including sending Spanish speaking parents door to door. Maybe PPS should stop poisoning the well and scaring off ELLs, and *then* we can see how diversity shakes out.

  6. Bravo to the Latino Coalition of NJ for exposing the truth not just about PCS but for charter schools in general. Charter schools do not educate the same percentages of the more expensive and more difficult to educate kids than the actual public schools. I don’t regard charter schools as public schools, they are privately operated entities that receive public funds. When it suits their purposes, the charter school operators claim that they are private entities not subject to the same rules as the public schools. Charter schools operate independently of the duly elected school board and have their own mini superintendent/CEO. The truth is that charter schools drain funds and resources from the public schools though the charter cheerleaders throw up all kinds of blarney and obfuscations to the contrary.

    1. PCS is a public school and has never claimed otherwise; furthermore, there’s no “CEO.” (But if you want to talk about top-heavy bloat, happy to discuss PPS!) The truth is that PCS educates roughly 10% of Princeton’s kids on roughly 5% of the school budget, so if you call that a “drain,” I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

  7. Two things about this

    1- There shouldn’t be any surprise at the pushback PCS has received. PCS didn’t engage the community in any discussion about the proposed amendment. I have seen PCS claim their hands were tied and they were prevented from doing so by state law. This seems odd, and I would like to find out where this restriction originates from. They haven’t cited the source of this restriction in any statement I’ve read, but perhaps I have simply missed it. However, I will note that PCS doesn’t mention this apparent restriction in the counter suit to PPS, at least not in the one document they have made public.

    2- PCS’ demographics do not represent our community. Since they are a public school, and are funded through our community’s taxes, it is imperative that ALL applicants receive the same chance of admission. This apparently has not been possible for the past 20 years due to a flawed system for charter admissions. It’s is encouraging that PCS appears to have the desire to correct this, but expanding their student population without first ensuring a more just process isn’t something that should be allowed. Simply giving an extra shot to those that meet certain conditions doesn’t ensure any change in demographics.

  8. Don’t all charter schools weed out kids with “bad” or uncaring parents, not to mention parents who are clueless for whatever reason? How can any system requiring parents to apply actually give children equal opportunity? I ask this with all respect (we sent our younger son to PCS).

    1. To enroll students in any school, you have to come with a birth certificate and proof of residency, no? So first, the idea of not just showing up on the first day of school isn’t totally alien. Second, it’s a lottery because there is demand for more seats than there are seats, so they have to be allocated somehow. PCS has gone to enormous lengths to encourage students with parents who might not be aware that it is a free public school, right down to going door to door in certain neighborhoods. So it’s quite the opposite of a weeding out process; it’s ongoing attempts at more inclusion.

      That being said, it’s awfully hard to persuade parents to enter their children in the lottery if the scuttlebutt around town is relentlessly that PCS doesn’t like Latinos, doesn’t adequately feed free/reduced lunch kids, doesn’t have aftercare, has hours a night of homework starting in early elementary, etc. etc. etc. (which since you sent your son there, you know yourself isn’t true).

      I believe an opt-out circumstance was discussed in one thread (automatically enroll all Princeton children in the lottery), but if I recall correctly, there are legal roadblocks to actually doing this. It’s only in the past year that weighted lotteries even became legal.

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