Dear Editor: Superintendent Toback claims there “is no lawsuit against HoLa.”
This is factually incorrect.
The Hoboken BOE filed a Notice of Appeal with the New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division on April 14. This is most certainly a lawsuit. To call this act anything less than a lawsuit is unconscionably misleading.
By filing its appeal against the Department of Education and HoLa over our expansion approval, the Hoboken BOE set into motion an expensive litigation process that is costing taxpayer’s money to prosecute and defend. The Hoboken BOE trustees voted to spend at least $20,000 for litigation costs expressly to use legal avenues to stop HoLa students from staying with us until 8th grade, and HoLa must spend its taxpayer funded per-pupil revenue meant for instruction on legal costs instead.
This is a terrible situation for our students and for Hoboken taxpayers and we hope the Hoboken BOE will stop immediately by dropping this expensive lawsuit.
HoLa is a free, public charter school that went through a rigorous vetting process with the Department of Education to receive approval to expand to become a K-8 school, from a K-6 school. Last month, HoLa was named a model World Languages school for 2014. According to state test results, HoLa ranks in the 99th percentile among our state peer group in academic achievement. We have a very successful public school – that operates on half of the per-pupil taxpayer funding that the Hoboken district operates on.
The BOE, by filing its lawsuit, is claiming that HoLa’s expansion will have “a significant impact” on the children attending the district schools.
It is important that residents take a close look at the facts regarding that statement. HoLa’s expansion will have ZERO impact on the BOE’s FY 2015 budget because our current 5th graders won’t get to 7th grade until FY 2016. The impact in FY 2016 is $198,000. Overall, Hoboken public schools spend $64 million. HoLa’s expansion represents well less than 1 percent of that. To say that it is HoLa’s expansion – and not the 99 percent of other costs – that will impact the district defies mathematical logic.
HoLa educates 10 percent of the public school population in Hoboken, yet only uses 4.6 percent of the overall public school budget to do so.
Finally, the lawsuit claims that HoLa’s expansion will have a segregative effect on the city’s schools. Not true. HoLa students are subject to a random lottery by state law. Despite the lottery, our student population demographics mirror the city’s population in terms of poverty status. And, we educate double the percentage of Hispanic students as the city’s overall Hispanic population.
Residents should be very concerned about this lawsuit. On Tuesday, May 6, the BOE will approve an increase to taxpayers of 4 percent and claim that at least part of that is due to HoLa. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Board President, HoLa