In Atlantic City, the Oceanside Charter School has officially announced to parents, students and staff that they will be closing at the end of the 2013 school year.
One student said, "Very sad. The teachers are like, devastated. The students have been even more devastated, like really bad."
The New Jersey Board of Education bases charter school renewals on academic performance, fiscal viability, and operational stability.
In the non-renewal letter sent to Oceanside, officials from the Department of Education wrote, "There is no evidence to show that the school has the capacity to improve student performance in the future," and that on June 28th the school will be shut down.
Marcella Smith, a teacher and parent of a student at Oceanside, said, "I thought at the least we might receive probation because of the new standards. I did not expect us to be totally shut down and it is somewhat of a shock."
"I think things would've been different. I'm not angered by it and I'm sad that we won't have an opportunity to continue to show our potential," said Oceanside Charter School administrator Jeanine Middleton.
Officials from Oceanside say that new renewal requirements were put into place last July that now compare Atlantic City's charter schools' test results to all of Atlantic City's public schools. Middleton said that in her renewal application her school outperformed many of the public schools from the areas that her students live, but that Oceanside does not perform better than the Atlantic City School District as a whole
Middleton explained, "Suddenly when we're 10 to 15 percentage points above...we are no longer. We are now a percentage point or two below them, as a district."
The school's closing will displace 380 students and leave around 60 staff members without jobs.
Smith said, "It hurts because it makes you question what you've done as a professional. Have you done enough? Was there something more that I could have done? You know, I work hard every day, but is there something more that I could have done to help achieve the success that we needed to remain open."
The New Jersey Department of Education says that a new charter school in Atlantic City, the Atlantic City Community Charter School, has received initial charter approval and could be opened by next fall, which could accommodate some of the displaced students. However, a "preparedness review," to evaluate whether the charter applicant approved in the previous review has the academic and operational capacity in place to offer a strong educational program for its students, is still being conducted.