N.J. directs Camden Community Charter School to close by June 30

The state Department of Education has denied the renewal application of Camden Community Charter School and directed it to close by June 30.

The charter school, which opened in 2013 and says it serves students in kindergarten through eighth grade, was not renewed, the department said Wednesday, because of its low academic performance.

In a statement posted to its website Thursday, the school called the department's decision "extremely disappointing and completely unwarranted."

"We are reviewing the state's decision and considering our options, including pursuing litigation," the school said.

In a letter to the president of the school’s board of trustees, Kimberly Harrington, the state’s acting education commissioner, said the school’s performance on the PARCC assessments “strongly suggests that the school is not offering its students a high-quality education.”

With an exception for middle-grades math, the school's student growth scores on the test last year “were the lowest of all charter schools in Camden." Over the last two years, Harrington's letter said, the proportion of students who met or exceeded grade-level expectations on a PARCC test in both subjects and grade levels "have ranked no higher than the bottom sixth percentile in the state."

No more than 13 percent of students in elementary grades at the charter school and 15 percent of students in middle grades have met grade-level expectations in any one subject during the last two years, the letter said. Camden Community Charter School was also considered low-performing prior to the PARCC test, the letter said.

The school enrolled 679 students in the 2015-16 school year, according to Department of Education data.

The school can appeal the department’s decision to Superior Court. The department announced its decision just before 5 p.m. Wednesday. Messages left at the school and with the board of trustees’ president have not been returned.

The school is managed by CSMI, the education management company that runs the Chester Community Charter School. The Chester school was among a number of schools recently scrutinized by Pennsylvania’s auditor general.