|Aeriel view of Maxwell House and Lipton Tea area (1950's)|
Dear Editor: On behalf of the over 300 families of Hoboken Dual Language Charter School, I would like to thank Peter Biancamano, John Madigan and Britney Montgomery, for their courageous vote this week to end the expensive and divisive lawsuit against our beloved public charter school. This lawsuit seeks to undo the school’s expansion to 8th grade, which was approved two years ago, and is already underway.
All three of those members voted to end a lawsuit that has cost taxpayers over one-quarter of a million dollars, and counting. Unfortunately, the six-member majority on the board voted to continue a lawsuit that is unlikely to prevail on the facts.
The district has lost its arguments at every legal interval so far. We are now at the Appellate Court level (which has rejected the district’s request for an emergency stay) and we are facing expensive oral arguments by all three parties—the Hoboken district, HoLa, and the NJ Department of Education.
The Hoboken district has vowed not to use any more taxpayer money on their portion of the lawsuit—and at least two of the newest board members also committed to that when they were elected—but taxpayer money will still be spent by HoLa and by the state, and since only $11,000 has been raised to support the legal fund so far (much of it from among board members themselves), it is unclear how these mounting legal fees will be paid for. The board members promoting this lawsuit said that they have spent the $11,000 that has been raised, and only owe the district’s attorneys $9,000 more at this point. Residents should ask how that bill will be paid if the board members vowed not to spend any more taxpayer money, and how the district will pay for the oral arguments that are coming next and are likely to cost the district thousands of dollars. Further, if it has cost HoLa well over $100,000 just over the past year to defend itself, it seems incredible that it has only cost the district $20,000 over the same period, since they are using outside counsel to create their legal briefs, just as HoLa is.
It’s time to end this divisive lawsuit. HoLa has proven, over and over again, its commitment to equity in our city—for example, becoming the first charter in the state to offer a low income preference in its lottery. In addition, the data all show that HoLa is as beautifully diverse as this city and that the district’s students have not in any way suffered from HoLa’s creation or expansion. In contrast, this city is stronger for its full range of educational options for families.
It’s time to ensure that Hoboken families continue to have all of the educational options their children deserve.
President of the Board, Hoboken Dual Language Charter School