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Gusciora Blasts DOE Over Closure of Emily Fisher Charter School

Deputy Majority Leader Reed Gusciora (D-Trenton) blasted the State Department of Education (DOE) today over their proposal to terminate the charter for the Emily Fisher Charter School in Trenton. Originally granted a charter in 1998 and renewed twice since then, Acting Education Commissioner Cerf has now declared that the school’s charter will expire on June 29, 2012.

“Emily Fisher Charter School is a unique learning environment designed to take students who have been kicked out of school, have behavioral and academic problems, or need special assistance,” Gusciora said. “Emily Fisher is giving our most vulnerable students the one-on-one attention that they need, telling them to not give up.”

Despite an independent study from the College of New Jersey, showing that Emily Fisher’s HSPA scores and NJ ASK rankings have improved over the last three years, Cerf has stated in a letter that the school would be losing its charter based on DOE data that allegedly shows that the school’s tests scores have not improved over the last three years.

“There seems to be a miscommunication with the data,” continued Gusciora. “On one hand, the DOE is stating that Emily Fisher doesn’t make the mark for both elementary and high school levels. However, the data that I have been shown has proven quite the opposite. Emily Fisher is above the proficiency levels of the Trenton public schools, not to mention, it does not even house an elementary school on its premise. It begs the question where is the DOE data coming from?”

Emily Fisher Charter School, which houses fifth through twelfth grade, has had its charter renewed twice before. During that time, Emily Fisher Charter School achieved the Safe Harbor ranking for 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, making it one of four high schools statewide to achieve Safe Harbor two consecutive years in their school category.

“My hope is that the DOE will take into consideration Emily Fisher’s unique role in giving students who have failed out of traditional schools one last chance,” Gusciora noted that he had already talked with Acting Commissioner Cerf about his concerns. “In the alternative, moving the charter school’s 500 students into the Trenton public school system overnight will overwhelm an already trying situation, especially when they have been given a one-on-one environment that Emily Fisher provides. We cannot afford to throw that away.”