Golden Door Charter School



PROCEDURAL HISTORY: This matter arises from five complaints filed against Mr. Paul Schaeder, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Golden Door Charter School, for violations of the School Ethics Act, N.J.S.A. 18A:12-21 et seq. Specifically, they alleged that he, without the consultation of the Board, forced the Chief Academic Officer to resign and that he appointed his former fellow trustee as a consultant within a month after he resigned from the Board. The complaints also raised various allegations that he misused his position in connection with the number of trustees on the Board, that he had police called to a public meeting on January 16, 2003 and that he discriminates against African-American parents and trustees...

DECISION: For the foregoing reasons, the Commission finds that Mr. Schaeder violated N.J.S.A. 18A:12-24.1(c) and (d) in connection with the termination of Ms. Jones and violated N.J.S.A. 18A:12-24(b) in connection with the hiring of former trustee Barry Fields.

The Commission considered Mr. Schaeder’s response to the finding of probable cause that argued that the matters for which he is being disciplined were decisions of the full board, but the evidence showed the opposite. Regarding Ms. Jones, the Board’s approval was sought only after Ms. Jones had been presented with the severance agreement. Regarding Mr. Fields, the Board’s approval was never sought. Mr. Schaeder has acted as a one-member board and in so doing has violated the Code of Ethics and the standards of conduct expected of board members in general. The Commission finds his conduct to be so egregious that only the penalty of removal would be appropriate. Therefore, the Commission recommends that Paul Schaeder [see story below] be removed from the Golden Door Charter School Board of Trustees.

* * * * * *

Additional background here:

After Bret Schundler won the special election in 1992, his theme was vouchers. He promised monetary relief to parents who sent their children to Catholic schools. This was his campaign strategy for the May 1993 mayoralty election. He promised the impossible!

Schundler's theme was to criticize the spending of the local public district. In 1994, he separated school bonding from the municipal tax rate. Prior to 1994, the school bonding was included as the final municipal tax numbers. This separation only happened on paper. It is still paid by the municipal budget but now on a separate line item. In fact, Schundler started to compare his municipal rate with former mayors. He left in the school bonding costs on their municipal rates but didn't show it in his rate. He's a regular con artist.

During the mid-90's, Governor Whitman wanted control over spending. She signed a bill fixing the costs for school bonding. Previously, Jersey City received money through a formula worked on by the legislatures. The formula usually gave Jersey City 65% to 70% state aid while the city picks up the rest. That means the stateed picks up two-thirds of school bonding cost.

Whitman fixed the formula to 35% which means 65% must come from local taxpayers. The local school district is now controlled by the state and they are on a building spree, yet Schundler, the critic is silent. Schundler got what he wanted Charter Schools!

Immediately, Schundler hires Paul Schaeder to manage charter school. Schaeder is on the public payroll assigned to the Mayor's office on 8/4/97 with the job title Administrative Analyst.

Now the law states that charter schools must use an existing building. But that doesn't stop him. Schundler uses tax dollars to build his Golden Door Charter School.

Schundler's school came from a $32 million bond that included $9.5 million for a "educational-recreation center" on the site of the for Betz Brewery. In a speech before the council he said taxpayers wouldn't be affected because it would be rented. Then he said that the local school board might take an equity position in covering costs, a clear violation of the law. He then offers other community centers in the wards of the other council members. Schundler said, "you give $9.5 million for my charter school and I'll go and build you a $5 million center in every ward."

While the school is being built, Schundler has a temporary site (that has now become a the site for The Community charter school run by Deputy Mayor Eliu Rivera).

He hires Advantage which was created two years ago by Steven F. Wilson, who helped write the Massachusetts charter school law. Charter schools were designed to be non-profit. But this is Jersey City and Schundler expects campaign contributions! Advantage receives 20% of the contract, approximately $800,000 goes into their pockets. Steven A. Wilson from Advantage said, "We're not squeamish about our for-profit status."

Now charter schools are competing for students from the public and Catholic schools. However, public schools will always be funded. The law demands it. But there is no law to protect Catholic schools. Across the state where charter schools exist, Catholic school are closing. Larry Thompson, Superintendent of Catholic school in the Trenton Diocese said, "Many of our students have gone over to the charter schools."

In 1993, Schundler promised parents financial relief for Catholic schools but he ends up destroying them!

Charter schools are handed out in Jersey City to political friends the way hot dogs are handed out at picnics. The closer the plitical connection, the more problems the schools have.

One school, Jersey City's Community School made headline in the local paper on June 13, 2000. This school in on the former site of Schundler's Golden Door and is run by his political friends Deputy Mayor Eliu Rivera and Julio Colon. The school is managed by a for-profit company called Mosaica.

The chief education officer returned to work after a lenghty sick leave. As she was gathering some boxes for her personal belongings (teachers do pack up in June) someone anonymously told members that Reed was resigning and taking home school documents. The board alerted the police. After a three hour ordeal the police officers checked each box and verified that the contents belonged to Reed. She was humiliated.

This incident brought issues to the surface which have been brewing all year since the school opened in September. Teachers say the school have face one problem after another-lack of supplies and bouncing paychecks. One teacher said there are no parents on the school board. Of course not, it is packed with politicans. The bouncing checks should be investigated. After all, 90% of the funding comes from the local school district.

* * * * * *

JC NAACP blasts Schundler as choice for education commissioner (, February 22, 2010)

JERSEY CITY - The Jersey City Branch of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) at the Feb. 18 Jersey City Board of Education meeting criticized the appointment by Gov. Chris Christie of former Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler as the state’s education commissioner.

Schundler, 51, is a Westfield native who served from 1992 to 2001 as Jersey City mayor, the first Republican elected to that seat in nearly 100 years.

Jersey City NAACP Branch President Kabili Tayari, currently a Jersey City deputy mayor who coincidentally was hired in 1997 during Schundler’s tenure, issued a statement against Schundler that was read by NAACP officer Lorenzo Richardson.

In the statement, Schundler was criticized for his lack of “public, private, parochial or charter school” experience. Schundler served most recently as the COO of King’s College, a private Christian college in Manhattan.

“His appointment gives the appearance of an attack on Public Education, not that our education system is perfect,” stated Richardson from Tayari’s statement. “But he is clearly not the best choice to solve the problems of our Public Education system.”

During his time as mayor, Schundler gained a reputation as an advocate for giving parents vouchers to help them send their kids to private school rather than public. He is also pro-charter school, having founded the Jersey City Golden Door Charter School in 1998, located on Ninth Street in downtown Jersey City.

But he ran into controversy during the construction of the school, as $9.5 million in public bonds were utilized to erect it. There is a state law prohibiting public funds from being used for the construction of a charter school. The building instead was built as a community center to get around that problem.

No comments: