Longport school vote postponed to Aug. 27

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 The vote on a resolution to enter into a sending/receiving relationship with Longport schools at a special Wednesday, Aug. 6 board meeting was postponed by members of the Ocean City Board of Education, who opted instead to discuss the issue in a closed session. The vote on a resolution to enter into a sending/receiving relationship with Longport schools at a special Wednesday, Aug. 6 board meeting was postponed by members of the Ocean City Board of Education, who opted instead to discuss the issue in a closed session.

OCEAN CITY — The vote on a resolution to enter into a sending/receiving relationship with Longport schools at a special Wednesday, Aug. 6 board meeting was postponed by members of the Ocean City Board of Education, who opted instead to discuss the issue in a closed session. They now plan to vote on the resolution at the regularly scheduled Aug. 27 meeting. 

“We’re moving forward with the resolution with Longport, but not tonight,” Superintendent Kathleen Taylor said after the meeting.

Board President Joe Clark said the resolution was pulled from the agenda to give board members an opportunity to question board solicitor Michael Stanton about the issue prior to taking a public vote.

“We’re going to go over some of what is going on with our attorney,” Clark said. “We want to make sure we have vetted the issue. This gives board members some time before they have to take a vote.”

The Longport Board of Education voted to send their students to Ocean City High School at its Monday, July 7 board meeting.

Meanwhile, the Atlantic City School District, with which Longport previously had a sending/receiving relationship, filed a motion with the Superior Court Appellate Division of intent to appeal a New Jersey Department of Education decision making the Ocean City sending/receiving relationship possible. They also asked that the judge issue a stay, preventing Longport from entering the new relationship with Ocean City.

In June, David Hespe, acting commissioner of the state Department of Education, ruled that the Longport school board could end its longstanding sending/receiving relationship with Atlantic City High School and instead send its students to Ocean City High School beginning in September.

The ruling stated that Longport may sever or modify the existing sending/receiving relationship with Atlantic City to create a dual agreement with both districts.

Last month, Clark said the issue was “a mess,” as 10 Longport students have picked classes at Ocean City High School and participated in athletic practices for fall sports. Four of the students have given up their School Choice seats to other students.

Stanton said the Ocean City School District was “proceeding, unless we hear otherwise.”

“Right now, the decision by the commissioner of education stands,” he said.  

Last week, Stanton said the district is taking a wait-and-see approach to the notice of appeal, but filed an appeal on the stay.

“The students are already registered, some of them gave up their School Choice seats and they are planning on coming,” he said at the time.

The Atlantic City school district would have to prove that students would be harmed by the DOE’s decision. In this case, he said, students would be harmed by the stay, not leaving by Atlantic City.

Hespe’s decision reverses an earlier decision by Administrative Law Judge Bruce Gorman, who ruled that the removal of white students from Longport would cause an increase in racial imbalance at Atlantic City High School.

Hespe, however, ruled that the nine students from Longport attending ACHS comprise 2 percent of the school’s 22 percent white population and therefore would not negatively impact the racial composition of the school.

According to Longport school board President Carl Tripician, letters were sent to parents of all high school and eighth grade students asking them to inform the board of their choice of high schools by June 24. Five out of nine incoming freshmen plan on going to Ocean City High School in September.


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