In the last couple of years, Sharon Akman, a real estate agent, applied to the state of New Jersey three times to open a new charter school in the Highland Park area, to be called Tikun Olam Hebrew Language Charter High School.
Each time, she was rejected.
Then on Oct. 6, one week after the state’s most recent rejection, the United States Education Department announced that it had approved a $600,000 grant to finance Ms. Akman’s proposed charter.
It would have taken federal officials just a few phone calls to determine that there were many good reasons for the state to have rejected Ms. Akman’s applications...
Ms. Akman, who declined to comment for this column, writes that the charter school would be located in St. Mary of Mount Virgin Church in New Brunswick, even though the bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen, Paul G. Bootkoski, has repeatedly said that the building is not available.
Ms. Akman’s documents list community supporters of the school, including Jun Choi, a former mayor of Edison, and the directors of the Zimmerli Art Museum in New Brunswick, who have written in e-mails made public that they are not supporters.
The application says there is a need for a Hebrew charter in the Highland Park-Edison-New Brunswick area, even though there are many Jewish private schools close by and, as Ms. Akman has told state reviewers, no community survey has been done.
The application says that the families served by the New Brunswick schools, which are predominantly black and Hispanic, support the Hebrew charter, even though school leaders and the local N.A.A.C.P. chapter do not...
An applicant with a $600,000 pledge in her pocket may be seen in a new light by state officials...
What we do know is that in mid-October Ms. Akman made her fourth try, as 1 of 42 applicants statewide.
And in December, the state made its first cuts, leaving 17 applicants — including Tikun Olam.
Next week state officials are to announce which are approved. If Tikun Olam is successful, the school plans to open in September with 100 students.
Ms. Akman has repeatedly refused to talk to reporters...
Tikun Olam Hebrew Language Charter High School
“Rejected 3 Times, School May Still Open Soon, and With a Grant, Too.” New York Times, 1/8/2012