Minority parents, students, teachers and staff of a college preparatory public charter school are scheduled to march on the Neptune municipal building today (Dec. 9) at 4:30 p.m. to demand that township officials stop blocking the school’s move to a better facility.
College Achieve has been trying to open a school at the Holy Innocents Church campus, West Bangs Avenue, with 300 students, the majority of whom are low-income African-Americans and Hispanics. Holy Innocents School, a Catholic private school, closed in June.
“We just have one question for the elected officials of Neptune Township,” said Dale Caldwell, president of the board of College Achieve Greater Asbury Park Charter School. “Why did you roll out the red carpet for the Academy of Allied Health and Science magnet school years ago—which is not open to all students—but now you’re forcefully blocking low-income minority families from moving to a church facility that has served as a school for decades? This school will offer a quality public education for all Neptune students.”
College Achieve last year signed a lease to relocate to Holy Innocents Church campus, but Neptune denied the school the use of the church. College Achieve appealed the decision to the Board of Adjustment, which denied its appeal in June. College Achieve sued in State Superior Court. The case is scheduled to be heard on Feb. 22, 2020.
“These delays have cost our children – who are mostly African-American and Hispanic – the quality educational facilities they deserve,” said Michael Piscal, founder and CEO of College Achieve Public Schools.
“We would hope that our elected officials would rather that we direct already scarce funds to our classrooms and educating our students instead of on legal fees, particularly as the state grapples with closing a large and persistent achievement gap between white and minority students.”
College Achieve Greater Asbury Park signed a contract with Holy Innocents Church to lease its education facility on Route 33 and West Bangs Avenue in Neptune Township. The college prep school planned to open in August at the new school facility, which offers many amenities that the school’s current campus does not have: larger classrooms, a library, science labs, a full-size multipurpose gymnasium, a cafeteria and playing fields.