Saturday, March 17, 2012

Three Strikes For Regis Academy Charter School; Separation Of Church And State, Enrollment Discrepancies And Skimming Students

On March 12, 2012 Regis Academy held a Board of Trustees Meeting.  Let's take a look at the Minutes from the previous meeting on February 6, 2012, shall we?
Regis Board Notes
(I know the document is highlighted, but this wasn't done by me.  I won't be touching on all of these items, just the ones I think are reasons for the NJDOE to deny Regis their final charter.)

The thing that first struck me was that not only was the meeting held at Solid Rock Worship Center, but there was an invocation by Amir Khan before the meeting.  Invocation is defined by Merriam-Webster as:

a prayer of entreaty (as at the beginning of a service of worship) 

Oh dear.

This made me do a bit of research to see what the current thinking is on starting a public school Board Meeting with a prayer.  Look what I found in an Americans United article from this month:
The U.S. Supreme Court in January announced that it will not hear an appeal of a 2005 lawsuit brought by a Jewish family who challenged the invocations at meetings of the Indian River School District. The high court’s refusal to hear the case brings the matter to a close.
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had earlier ruled in the Doe v. Indian River School District case that since students often attend the school board’s meetings, the official prayers are a violation of church-state separation.

Strike one for Regis

The meeting was held on February 6, 2012 and says "there are 47 applications in at this time."  Also, there was conversation as to whether they should admit students from districts other than their original four sending districts, and if so, from which districts.  

However, as I posted last month, on February 15, 2012 Christian Barnes submitted enrollment data stating Regis had enrolled only 37 students, and they came from eleven districts!  So why are there less kids than were discussed at the Board Meeting?  And if the Board hadn't yet decided whether they wanted to accept kids from other districts, why did Amir Khan send a letter to Deputy Commissioner Andy Smarick on January 26, 2012 with an expanded list of districts complete with estimates for each district?  Did Amir Khan go rogue?

Since then Amir Khan has given any number of estimates in interviews as to how many students have enrolled and how many applications they are getting per week.  You'll forgive me if I take these numbers with a grain of salt.  Especially when Regis hasn't submitted the district by district enrollment data the Office of Charter Schools has asked for not once, but three times.

Strike two for Regis

And the combination of these two sections from the minutes is simply unbelievable.

The addition of Camden students may deter enrollment.

and this:

We need to be sure that the sending districts are not bringing in children who may cause a great concern for the AYP.  We must make sure that school performance out performs, based on your curriculum.


(And I won't even mention that the minutes incorrectly state that AYP stands for Average Yearly Progress, when it actually stands for Adequate Yearly Progress.  Except I guess I just did...) 

I know I don't have to explain to you guys how messed up this is, but it sure does fly in the face of quotes like this from Khan:

“One of our goals for our school is diversity. The department of education was impressed by the diversity of our board. Our goal is to bring school districts together,” Khan said.

In the heated debate surrounding Regis Academy Charter School, which is slated to open in Cherry Hill next fall, one important point is often overlooked: No school works for every student. That's why all families, no matter where they live, deserve a choice of publicly funded schools.

Looks like Khan is pretty good at talking the talk but not walking the walk.  

So let me see if I have this straight.  All families, no matter where they live, deserve a choice of publicly funded schools and districts should be brought together.  Just as long as those kids from Camden don't deter enrollment or drag down Regis' AYP.

Strike three for Regis

Acting Commissioner Cerf, are you paying attention to this?  I warned you about the problems with the Tikun Olam application, and even though they had a $600,000 federal grant you didn't approve them.  I applaud you for that.

Now I am warning you about Regis Academy.  There are real problems here and if you grant Regis a final charter it is almost guaranteed to blow up in your face.

Let's call it three strikes and Regis is out, whaddya say?   


  1. Hasn't it already blown up in the face of the Acting Commissioner who approved this school, despite red flags all over the place? This approval, under the Acting Commissioner's more stringent review process, clearly demonstrates that political favors are at the core of these decisions and that these decisions cannot be left to the commissioner - acting or not.

    Keep up the amazing work Darcie!

  2. That "format" is not even what school board minutes should look like, at ALL. The AYP comment is an issue. As a charter school you can not SELECT your students, you must have an open lottery and enrollment process.

  3. Amir Khan is a self-serving hypocrite. Thank you Darcie for getting the truth out on this debacle.

  4. They can't even figure out how to run a meeting, how on Earth will they run a successful school? Or do they even care about that? Is this just a way to get taxpayer (school budget) money to pay his mortgage? This whole issue makes me so angry.

  5. U should run 4 congress or at least 4 school board n if u do, I will donate to your campaign Darcie!
    just let me know at this email.
    thank you for your work on behalf of children and justice!

  6. Charter schools should provide the basics and other courses that the regular school in that district fails to do. Nothing extra like Mandarin, or special arts like drama or music or sports teams. The school then becomes a private school for the gifted in that area. Charters are suppose to be for all who go into the pool. Anything else becomes a private school. People are always invited to open any private school that wish to that offers a special curriculum, but not with taxpayer money.
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  7. The strike regis cleared the vital aspects, so, its been more easy as to granting such fundamentals as these are required to be.