The News-Record of Maplewood and South Orange is reporting that the founders of the Hua Mei Charter School have decided not to apply a third time to the state for approval.
The founders had proposed a K-5 Mandarin-immersion charter school that would operate in Maplewood and draw mainly from the South Orange-Maplewood and West Orange school districts — although spots could have been available for students outside of those districts if space allowed. The school would have opened as a K-2 school in 2012 and expanded thereafter.
The application was rejected for the second time earlier this month when eight urban charters were approved while no suburban charters were given the green light. Both Governor Christie and NJ State Acting Education Commissioner Chrisopher Cerf have made comments indicating their view that charter schools are appropriate for struggling urban districts, not suburban districts deemed successful. However, Cerf has not released reasons for specifically rejecting Hua Mei's application a second time.
Hua Mei was initially denied in September due to some deficiencies in its application and reapplied in October, leaving off Millburn, Livingston and Union as in-district school districts from which it would draw.
The charter faced large-scale community opposition, with local boards of education sending letters to Cerf and town governing bodies passing resolutions supporting charter reform. On Jan. 6, more than 150 local residents appeared at a charter reform rally in Maplewood to oppose the charter.
The News-Record story was reported in its Feb. 2, 2012 edition, available on newsstands. The story has not yet appeared in the online version.