Rejected Hebrew Immersion Charter School Appeals State Decision

Federal grant money on hold for proposed Shalom Academy Charter School, official says.

Proposed Hebrew immersion charter school Shalom Academy has appealed a state decision blocking the school from opening and denying it another year to prepare, education officials said Tuesday.

State Education Commissioner Chris Cerf in July rejected the school’s bid to open in Teaneck and refused its request for another planning year. In a letter to Shalom Academy, Cerf said the school had not proven it was ready and could not supply the required documents, including fire and building inspections. Cerf’s decision came after the school was first granted a planning year in 2011 to secure a location.

A spokeswoman at the U.S. Department of Education, which , confirmed the school had filed an appeal. Federal grant money is frozen during the process.

“The school is appealing its denial. They did not receive continuation funding so their grants will remain open, but on hold through the appeals process,” the spokeswoman said.

Shalom Academy founder Raphael Bachrach did not respond to a message seeking comment.

In court papers, Shalom Academy argued Cerf's decision to deny its request was "arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable," according to a report on northjersey.com. 

State Education Department spokesman Richard Vespucci said the matter was now with the courts. The state Attorney General's Office represents the department in the case, but could not be immediately reached for comment. 

Shalom Academy has not filed a new charter application, the spokesman said. 

Had Cerf granted the school another planning year, it could have been open in fall 2013. 

The charter school planned to serve students in Teaneck and Englewood. Both districts opposed the application, raising concerns over the program and budget impact.

Shalom Academy planned to enroll 160 students. The school filled those spots and some grades had waiting lists, a representative told Patch in June.  

Teaneck and Englewood were required to allocate funds for students from each community to attend the K-5 school. The Teaneck Board of Education allocated $1.4 million for Shalom Academy as part of the 2012-2013 budget while Englewood had set aside around $785,000.


First published 12:18 p.m. Tuesday. Last updated 12:30 a.m. Wednesday

Evelyn October 17, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Why is the school not submitting the fire & building inspection certificate? Sounds to me like the State wants to make sure the kids don't die in school in a horrible accident. Just submit the paperwork the State requires (especially for physical safety).
Noah Cohen October 17, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Here's an article with a little more on that federal grant: http://teaneck.patch.com/articles/shalom-academy-charter-school-gets-federal-grant Also, a press release from the DOE: http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-awards-nearly-5-million-charter-school-grants-planning-p
ag74 October 17, 2012 at 04:58 PM
I hope Shalom will win, so my kids can get in. Good luck to them.
Armando October 19, 2012 at 03:30 PM
We should just entrust $1.4 million because "They know what they are doing?" Sounds convincing to me! Let Teaneck invest in a guy on the internet who claims he will return 10% because "he may actually know what he's doing!" Any plan Shimon?
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