NJ Appeals Panel Finds Charter Schools Can Open Satellite Locations

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A New Jersey Appellate Panel found November 12 that the New Jersey State Board of Education’s recent regulations allowing existing successful charter schools to open satellite locations within their districts of residence is lawful.

The Case

The Education Law Center (ELC) last year filed a case in opposition to adopted regulations enacted in 2013 that amended N.J.A.C. 6A:11-2.6(a)(1)(iv) to authorize the addition of satellite campuses to some existing charter schools; and amended N.J.A.C. 6A:11-1.2 to define the term "satellite campus"; and (3) repealed N.J.A.C. 6A:11-2.6(a)(2), which had barred existing charter schools from amending their charters to alter the mission, goals, or objectives of the school.  ELC contended that the revised regulations were an expansion of the charter school program and that such an expansion may be accomplished only by the Legislature enacting new laws, not by the State Board and the Commissioner of Education through administrative action. 

ELC argued the rule changes fundamentally modified the charter program established by the Legislature in 1995 by allowing site expansion under an existing charter. The organization aruged that the charter law would have to be amended by the Legislature to permit this form of expansion, and the NJDOE never asked the Legislature for such an amendment.

ELC also challenged the NJDOE’s repeal of a 1997 regulation that prohibited a charter school from changing its core mission, goals and objectives through a simple amendment to its State-approved charter. They argued that without this regulation in place, charter schools could make material changes to their operations or the criteria by which they are evaluated without having to undergo the extensive application and approval process required to obtain a charter. 

The Opinion

The Court concluded that the State Board had the statutory authority to amend and repeal its regulations as it did.  

The Appellate Opinion