Friday, February 17, 2012

Regis Academy Hires Closed Charter VP, NJDOE Opens Enrollment Beyond Four Districts

Last night the Regis Academy held an information session that was attended by approximately 32 prospective parents.  Some Cherry Hill residents that have been vocal opponents of the charter school also attended the meeting.  One that is known to Amir Khan was pulled aside before the meeting and told that if she caused any trouble the cops would be called.  Another was asked if she was from the press.

Amir Khan is the president of the Regis Academy Board of Trustees.  Is this how he intends to run his Board of Trustee Meetings?  With threats of police action for anyone that is not a supporter or has questions about how the Regis Academy is spending public tax dollars?

Leading the meeting was Christian Barnes who was introduced as the Lead Person for Regis Academy.  Mr. Barnes was the Vice Principal of the Trenton Community Charter School.  He was fired only months before the charter was closed for good for poor performance.

Trenton Community Charter was founded in 1997. In March the DOE placed the school on 90-day probation, saying it had repeatedly failed to meet federal testing standards and needed to implement a turnaround plan.
According to state data, only 38 percent of the school’s elementary students passed the state language test in 2008, and the figure fell to 15 percent the following year.
Nearly half passed the math exam in 2008, but in 2009 the figure fell to 35 percent.
In the application The Regis Academy budget includes a paid position School Leader/Curriculum Director during the start up phase, and then a Vice Principle for Curriculum and Instruction once the charter is up and running.  Sounds like Mr. Barnes got himself a new Vice Principal position despite the closure of his last charter.

Vice Principal?

In addition, attendees at last night's meeting reported that Amir Khan informed the audience that "just yesterday" the NJ Department of Education told him that Regis Academy does not have to restrict their enrollment to the four sending districts they were approved for; Voorhees, Somerdale, Lawnside and Cherry Hill.  They can now accept kids from anywhere in the state. 

Here's what the charter school regulations have to say about what might have happened "just yesterday" to bring about this change.

(k) Prior to the granting of the charter, the 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 pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:11-4.4(a) and (b). The charter school shall submit data for the assessment: 

1. In a format prescribed by the Commissioner; and

2. No later than 4:15 P.M. on February 15(emphasis mine)

In the Regis Application February 15 is listed as the date their "initial enrollment count" is due to the NJDOE.
Timeline for Enrollment
Let's recap, shall we?

Regis had to submit their "enrollment from the initial recruitment period" or "initial enrollment count" to the NJDOE on February 15.  On February 16 they held a public information session and told the audience "just yesterday" the NJDOE opened their enrollment to kids from anywhere in the state.  

Anybody else thinking that the initial enrollment count wasn't looking too good?

Here's the question I have for Carlos Perez and the NJDOE.  What happened to parents "voting with their feet?"  If Amir Khan is having trouble filling 250 seats, 50 each in K-4, with students from the four towns he applied for, why has the NJDOE already opened admissions to other districts? 

In the end, parents vote with their feet. A charter school that fills up with students is one that was wanted by the community. If parents didn’t want more options, then a charter school wouldn’t survive. 

There is more than enough evidence that the Regis Academy is not wanted or needed by the community, and that it has not been proven to be "high-quality and innovative."  Yet somehow it "survives."

While the founders of Regis may be "determined" to see their charter open, NJDOE spokesman Justin Barra said something that the opponents of the Regis Academy need to be paying close attention to.  

“We will review their progress toward opening, as we do every approved charter school, in the summer before officially approving opening in September 2012,” Barra said.

The approval of Regis' charter DOES NOT mean that it will open in September.  In fact check out the Charter School Fact Sheet.  Five other charter applications were approved but never granted their final charter.  Regis must submit their final paperwork on June 30 to receive their final charter on July 15.  

If there is anything I have learned from my experiences battling Tikun Olam, it is that the opponents of the Regis Academy are going to need to remain vigilant, because the NJDOE's Office of Charter Schools gives unproven charter operators every advantage over communities and districts.  

Regis appears to be a partnership of an unproven charter school operator and a failed charter school operator, and they STILL seem to have the advantage over the district schools and parents.   



  1. Unbelievable is right. But the fact is this school is trying to make a case for itself in a place where it is not needed nor (mostly) wanted. The problem is that the sending districts have to make accommodations for it, even if it fails.

    There is simply no excuse for this. The kids in Cherry Hill, Voorhees, and the other districts deserve better.

  2. Ok, here's the deal, people this is a business not a school. This guy Amir kahn is just a rev. as far as we have all seen. All he wants to do is bleed 1.9 million dollars of Cherry Hills budget and more out of Voorhees, Somerdale and Lindenwald. WOW, and the state of New Jersey with all the people that are so smart and tell us all what we should do and expect, aprove this mess. SOUNDS TO ME THE DOE of NJ NEEDS A CHECK UP FROM THE NECK UP. Who in their right mind would give this guy the ok to start this ball rolling in a totaly functional school district. They are going to let him take money from our childrens education. Bull, this has to stop now. I hope our board in Cherry Hill as well as our new Mayor puts a stop to this madness. If Amir Kahn wants to do something , CAMDEN IS IN DIRE STRAIGHTS IN THE EDUCATION PROBLEMS. Leave us alone, we don't need you and your charter school. And we don't want you and your charter school. You will only hurt the system we have now. Point blank, we are not interested in paying higher taxes for your failure of a school. Oh, by the way, nice choice on leadership from a failed charter school. RED FLAG

  3. Should all teachers, staff, and administration be punished because the executive board operated a failing school?
    Should they all be banned from the education field because of ineffective leadership ? You say he was only there for a year, is Mr. Barnes to blame? How many schools do you know where the vice principal runs the school ? Find something else and someone else to pick on. Is it possible he was trying to fix some things, and his actions were not accepted ?

  4. Cherry hill is a high performing school district. No charter school is needed in a high performing school district. case closed.

    Regis is basing their curriculum on the MicroSociety. They cannot use the MicroSociety name or intellectual property without a contract. There is no contract between MicroSociety and Regis.

    This school is littered with red flags.

  5. Even the NJ DoE's reviewers thought the Regis application was below standard:

    You don't support this school was approved because of political patronage, do you?

    We must fix NJ's broken charter school law!

  6. You nailed it - what happened to voting with their feet??!?? Clearly if an application is submitted for a specified set of school districts and there is not enough enrollment from those districts, then parents have voted with their feet. However, the DoE ignores that and simply looks for others to stuff the proverbial ballot box with in order to justify the school. This happened at Hatikvah in East Brunswick as well- an issue still in the court system. What is the point of the current application process that must send the charter school application to every named district (so they can respond) if, after the fact, the DoE allows them to expand to any other district? In addition, there are tax payers in these towns who cannot vote with their feet, but should have a right to vote as to whether their tax money will go to paying mortgage on a church by housing public school children there.....

  7. Add your voice to the 1000+ others that are telling Governor Christie and the DOE that we don't need Regis Academy by signing the following petition:

  8. Since they are opening the enrollment area to contiguous districts, I think the four original "sending districts" should no longer have to foot the bill for projected enrollment figures that seem to have NO basis in fact!

  9. I attended the Regis Academy informational session on February 16th -- Pastor Amir Kahn welcomed everyone and opened by saying that "Regis" means king and this will be a school of kings. Then compare that with his church website (Solid Rock) and see all the references to "kings" --- sounds like he is trying to run a religious school with tax payer dollars!

  10. If the attendees of the Regis Academy information session (Feb 16) are in any way indicative of the actual enrollment demographics, then I have a concern. Pastor Kahn critized some of the sending districts for their lack of diversity. The attendees who were there to support the school seemed to be all African-American. If all his students are African-American, how will that be a diverse population? In addition, if he pulls only minority students from the sending districts won't that make them even less diverse? He seems to be exacerbating the problem if you ask me. His whole program seems to be about division not inclusion!

  11. From the Regis Academy Charter Application (page 1-39, Part 1 Section 4)...
    "Fiscal responsiblity for any student currently enrolled or determined to require a private day or residential school shall remain with the district of residence."
    Given these students cost the resident district large amounts of $$$, it is nice for Regis that they won't have to foot the bill. Looks like they only have to accept the students that are "budget friendly" --- how conveninet.
    Why do they get away with not having to take on the students who cost district large sums of $$$ (look at a board agenda and see what out of district placements can cost $40-60K is not out of the ballpark!).