Lady Liberty Academy Charter School

Letter from the NJ ACLU to the Executive Director of Lady Liberty Academy Charter School in Newark, New Jersey (June 4, 2010)

Re: Lady Liberty Academy Charter School; Open Government Violations

Dear Mr. Pinder,

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (“ACLU-NJ”) was recently contacted by an anonymous requester of public records about the open government practices of the Lady Liberty Academy Charter School (“Lady Liberty”). Since that time, the ACLU-NJ has been monitoring various requests for public documents submitted to the school and has reviewed the responses provided. I am writing to inform you that Lady Liberty has violated several provisions of the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”), N.J.S.A. 42:1A-1 et seq. and the Open Public Meetings Act (“OPMA”), N.J.S.A. 10:4-6 et seq., and appears to have taken affirmative steps to obstruct access to public information.

Since the ACLU-NJ was first contacted in February 2010, we have heard from various sources about the disconcerting open government practices of Lady Liberty, including that requests for public records, such as Board of Trustees (“Board”) meeting minutes or school policies, are routinely ignored or denied for reasons that do not comply with the law. We also understand that Lady Liberty implemented a policy requiring requesters to submit OPRA request forms and that anonymous requests must specifically be submitted in person, thereby preventing the ability of requesters to remain anonymous. The policy appears to have been implemented soley to determine the identity of anonymous requesters. Such actions, if true, are unlawful and antithetical to the practices of open government…

As the weeks have turned into months, we continue to receive complaints about Lady Liberty’s open government practices, and through it all, the simple truth remains: Actions taken to obstruct access to public records and meetings put Lady Liberty at great risk for lawsuits. And frankly, it does not reflect positively on a school that is named after our nation’s foremost symbol for freedom and democracy…

…the ACLU-NJ will continue to monitor its [Lady Liberty’s] open governance practices indefinitely, and assess whether legal action is appropriate...

1 comment:

The Perimeter Primate said...

From Forums:

Another Lady Liberty Academy Charter School OUTRAGE: $205,000 Employment Contract

Despite NJ’s economic crisis and drastic budget cuts in all regular school districts, NJ’s public charter schools are not cut and are allowed to be financially EXTRAVAGANT.

Attached is the outrageously FAT ($205,000) Employment Contract issued to Lady Liberty Academy Charter School's new principal.

Please note:
1. $205,000/year=Gross Salary: A New Principal of a 400 student NJ charter school makes $205,000, yet he forgets to hold fire drills and lock-down drills… ACLU criticizes Lady Liberty Charter School's Open Records and Meetings compliance - Forums
2. Inexplicably, the employment contract is being sent from the Newark Charter School Fund office in May of 2009—not from the school or HR.
3. There is no mention of a Teaching License/Teaching Certification
4. Principal’s Base Salary = $165,000
5. Principal’s Signing Bonus = $30,000
6. Principal’s Annual Retention Bonus = $10,000