No need to wonder anymore. I filed an OPRA request for the initial enrollment data submitted by Regis Academy. Guess what I found out?
In the five months since gaining approval, Regis has enrolled a whopping 37 kids. That's right, 37. And here is the best part. While the form doesn't say where each individual child is from, the districts they represent are listed. And they aren't limited to the four sending districts. They are also from Williamstown, Deptford, Lindenwold, Berlin, Erial and Camden. In five months, Regis has only managed to enroll 37 kids from 10 districts. Guess those ValPak ads aren't so helpful afterall.
Here is the Preliminary Enrollment form submitted by Lead Person Christian Barnes. Check it out for yourself:
Regis Prelim Enrollment
I also requested any documents related to Regis' request to expand their region of residence. Here's what that request turned up:
Regis Request to Change Region of Residence
There is so much here I don't know where to begin. I think I need a list.
1. On January 26th an email was sent to Deputy Commissioner Smarick from Amir Khan. Note that while the letter was written by Amir Khan, the email was sent from someone working at Khan's church, the Solid Rock Worship Center. Why wasn't the email sent by Khan, the President of the Board of Trustees or Christian Barnes, the Lead Person? This certainly raises questions regarding the separation between Regis Academy and Solid Rock.
2. Amir Khan asked to expand his region of residence to include four (Lindenwold, Clementon, Pennsauken and Camden), possibly five (Berlin) additional districts. Somehow between that request on January 26th and Regis' initial enrollment submission on February 15th he pulled students from three more districts (Williamstown, Deptford, and Erial.)
3. Why aren't the racial demographics included? The charter school regulations state that "the (Acting) Commissioner shall assess the student composition of a charter school and the segregative effect that the loss of the students may have on its district of residence. The assessment shall be based on the enrollment from the initial recruitment period…" How is this assessment to be conducted if this information isn't provided?
3. 23 of the 37 students, or 77%, are in Kindergarten or First Grade. This says to me that very few parents have actually been willing to pull their children out of the public schools in the original four districts.
4. The projected enrollment for Regis' first year is 250 students, 50 in each grade from K-4. Regis only met 15% enrollment in the first 5 months, and had to expand from 4 to 10 districts in order to do so.
Charter proponents are constantly taking about the waiting lists for charter schools as evidence that there is incredible demand for choice. Isn't the reverse therefore also true? If five months of recruitment produces only 37 students from 10 districts, isn't it time for Acting Commissioner Cerf to admit he made a huge mistake in approving Regis Academy in the first place? Haven't the parents of these districts clearly "voted with their feet" by NOT enrolling in this charter?
The NJDOE allowing Regis to expand it's region of residence when next to no demand has been demonstrated in the original four districts makes a mockery of the application process. Why bother having districts respond to applications or appeal approvals if once approved charters can pull from anywhere and everywhere? Cherry Hill has expended resources fighting a projected enrollment of 169 students. Now Amir Khan has scaled that back to 50. I betcha Cherry Hill has not received a revised bill...
Shouldn't the Acting Commissioner let the districts of Cherry Hill, Lawnside, Somerdale and Voorhees out from under Regis' $2.7M price tag?
The almost 2,000 people that signed a petition asking the Governor and Acting Commissioner Cerf to deny Regis their final charter on July 15th certainly think so. I might add that it has taken less than 2 weeks to get almost 2,000 signatures compared to 37 students in five months. Hmmm.
If you agree that Regis should not receive their final charter, please sign and share.
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