The core of the school board’s legal argument was that HoLa’s admission policy has a segregative effect by drawing white students out of the district at large. The DOE said it took up the case in order to “more closely inspect the demographic statistics surrounding the relevant community in this matter and how HoLa’s admissions policy may involve that community.”
But on Friday, education commissioner David Hespe said the data showed no segregative effect caused by HoLa and Hoboken’s two additional charter schools. Though HoLa has a much lower percentage of black and Hispanic students than the traditional schools in the district, the percentage of black students in the district hasn’t changed since HoLa opened in 2010, and the percentage of Hispanic students has actually fallen.
“The data points towards an overall population shift in the last 10 years in the City of Hoboken,” wrote Hespe, in an apparent reference to the trend of gentrification and rising rents.
The DOE’s decision can be appealed in state appellate court, but it remains unclear if the school board has the political will to continue its fight, especially if it requires more money pulled from an already tight budget. Two of the three school board members elected last November said they would not support spending more money for the lawyer representing the district in the case, and the third refused to say one way or the other.
According to HoLa board president Barbara Martinez, 21 of HoLa’s current sixth graders are planning to enter the school’s newly formed seventh grade this coming August.
For more on the new developments in the HoLa controversy, check the Hudson Reporter website over the coming week.