Red Bank schools are clearly segregated. Because of the RBCS, Red Bank is home to the most segregated school district in New Jersey. And at every turn, the RBCS, the Commissioner, the NJ DOE, the Christie Administration and the New Jersey Legislature have failed Red Bank’s children by turning a blind eye to the segregative impact that the RBCS is having on Red Bank.
As stated by RBCS Board of Trustee Vice President Roger Foss, the RBCS was formed to mitigate the effects of white flight. Since its formation, the RBCS has refused to abide by state law to seek enrollment of a cross section of Red Bank’s school-aged population. And since 2007, the RBCS has refused to abide by a Consent Order requiring it to use its best efforts to assure that the gender, race/ethnicity, economic status and LEP percentages of students of its students equate as closely as possible to the students residing in the Borough of Red Bank. The RBCS has done a tremendous job enrolling white students, and it has done an adequate job enrolling black students. But it is clear from its enrollment statistics that the RBCS has no interest in conducting adequate outreach to enroll more poor, LEP, and Latino students.
From the creation of the RBCS in 1997 through its continued operation today, the Commissioner has refused again and again to ensure that the RBCS’s continued operation does not cause segregation. There is no evidence the Commissioner has conducted annual assessments of the segregative effects of the RBCS, as required by law; no evidence the Commissioner has conducted a more thorough review when the RBCS requested a five-year renewal of its charter in the past; and no evidence the Commissioner plans to do a more thorough review now that the state is considering the RBCS’s latest charter renewal, which was filed on September 15, 2016.
At the same time, the Christie administration and New Jersey Legislature have refused to fairly fund the Red Bank Borough Public Schools while fully funding the RBCS. While this is true for public school districts and charter schools throughout the state, the result in Red Bank is a charter school that carries a per-pupil cost that is $2,119 higher than the host public schools. This funding disparity is further exacerbated by the segregation in Red Bank, because under SFRA, a greater funding weight is supposed to be given to students who are poor, have disabilities, or who are English-language learners. The RBCS’s funding reflects these weighting requirements, but the Red Bank Borough Public Schools’ do not.
The RBCS, Commissioner, NJ DOE, Christie administration, and New Jersey Legislature have failed Red Bank’s children. It is clear that none of these entities has any interest in reversing the demographic and financial disparities caused by the RBCS. We respectfully ask the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education to take any and all steps in their power to stop and reverse the demographic and financial segregation at Red Bank’s publicly funded schools, including but not limited to: 1) conducting an investigation into the discriminatory impact of the RBCS enrollment policies; 2) investigating the refusal of the Commissioner and the NJ DOE to take action to stop and reverse the segregation caused by the RBCS as required by law; 3) intervening in the RBCS charter renewal application that is currently before the Commissioner and the NJ DOE Office of Charter Schools; 4) investigating the discriminatory school funding policies of the Christie administration and the New Jersey Legislature; and 5) compelling the Christie administration and New Jersey Legislature to fairly fund the Red Bank Borough Public Schools.
In conclusion, the best solution for Red Bank is the closing of the charter school and the creation of a unified school district. Segregation has a pernicious impact on a community as it gradually undermines the ties that bind it together. Our separate and unequal school district communicates to our children that we are not all equal. It teaches them that some children are chosen to receive special treatment. This sort of injustice is something worthy of study in a historical sense, but it should not be a living experience for the vast majority of Red Bank students.