Background

iLearn Schools, Inc. was contacted by The Bergen Record with questions regarding public charter schools in New Jersey that were alleged to have ties to political situations developing in Turkey.  We drafted clear, accurate responses to this inquiry, emphasizing that none of the iLearn Schools has any such ties.

When the resulting news piece was published, we were disheartened to read that much of the information we shared was not included, as the story included issues directed at multiple charter schools in North Jersey, which we believe led to confusion and uncertainty regarding our identity and educational program. We immediately requested that the article be updated to present accurate information about iLearn Schools.

We are extremely proud of our students, staff members, and of our contributions to public education in New Jersey, and felt it important to share the facts with the readers.

General Information about iLearn Schools, Inc.

iLearn Schools, Inc. (formerly North Jersey Arts and Science Charter Schools) is a non-profit Charter Management Organization (CMO) that provides specialized educational and management services to five separate public charter school districts.

iLearn Schools has no affiliation with any political or religious institutions.

The only exception is our professional affiliations with colleges and universities in the state with whom we collaborate in our educational programs, such as the past placement of student teachers from the College of St. Elizabeth. Some school buildings are leased from Catholic dioceses, but the schools are not affiliated with the Catholic Church.

iLearn Schools have had, without exception, 'clean' audit opinions based on each schools' annual independent audit.

New Jersey has one of the strongest regulatory environments in the country regarding public expenditures. iLearn Schools complies with the same procurement laws and regulations as traditional public schools. All purchases and contracts are made in accordance with Public School Contracts Law, and when applicable, iLearn Schools utilizes state contractors and consortium vendors to reduce costs. Yearly audits and annual reports are public records and may be viewed at any time. iLearn Schools shares all public information in compliance with the Open Public Records Act (OPRA). Transparency is absolutely critical; the taxpayers of New Jersey deserve nothing less.

iLearn Schools implements hiring practices aligned to all state and federal laws.

All iLearn-managed schools are public charter schools that hire faculty and staff based solely upon their certifications, qualifications, and experience.  New Jersey, having one of the strictest charter school laws in the nation, requires certification for all teachers; our schools are in compliance with this requirement.  We are proud of a diverse staff that comes from all walks of life, and that shares the vision that students are first and foremost; they are at the core of each and every decision we make.

iLearn Schools provides quality, secular, public school education in some of the most underserved urban communities in the state.

iLearn Schools provides quality education with a focus on challenging curricula, provided in a digital environment with a host of co-curricular activities and opportunities for growth in cooperation with the greater community.  Our teachers help to develop curriculum that is aligned to all state and national standards under the guidance of educators who have years of public school experience in New Jersey.
iLearn Schools-managed charter school districts are among the best public schools in the state, eliminating the achievement gap for low-income students. The charter schools are at, or above, the NJ state averages, despite serving a much higher percentage of low-income students compared to the state in aggregate. 

In elementary and middle schools, iLearn Schools are outperforming home districts in English by 25 to 29 points (Garfield, Passaic, and Paterson).

In elementary and middle schools, iLearn Schools are outperforming home districts by 8 to 26 points in mathematics.

The latest available data (2015) demonstrates that the academic growth scores across all iLearn Schools exceeded the state averages in both English language arts and mathematics.

Additionally, Bergen Arts and Science Charter High School is the only public high school in Bergen County to achieve a 100% graduation rate in 2016.

Simply put, iLearn Schools is meeting our students’ academic needs and growing students at an extraordinary rate compared to their academic peers.

Our doors are always open for ALL students, with strong academic support in place for English language learners and students with special needs.

State regulations strictly prohibit discriminatory enrollment practices. In compliance with all applicable statutes and regulations, iLearn Schools are fully committed to serving and meeting the needs of ALL students, especially the highest-need students requiring special education services, students who are English language learners, students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, and those in other underserved or at-risk populations. Additionally, the initial application for enrollment is available in multiple languages and may be obtained online and from iLearn Schools’ central office, and may be completed off-site or with the aid of a school employee if necessary.

Each of the schools is a separate public charter school, authorized by a charter issued by the Commissioner of Education of New Jersey to provide a secular public school program, free of charge, to students in their community.

Each has its own entitled Board of Trustees; each school district is held individually accountable by the New Jersey Department of Education.  iLearn Schools has been retained by the governing body (the Board of Trustees) of each charter school district.  Depending on the school’s needs, iLearn Schools may be responsible for developing and implementing academic curricula and professional development programs for teachers and school administrators, managing human resources, handling regulatory reporting requirements, overseeing facilities and special programs, completing renewal and expansion applications, directing communication, public relations, advocacy and development, managing enrollment, implementing information technology (IT), coordinating grants, and carrying out policies adopted by the board.

The charter schools decided to make this change in management structure because of the financial savings via shared services and the added professional resources provided by working with a non-profit CMO.

CMOs are able to build economies of scale by streamlining many of the administrative tasks that dominate daily operations at single-site charter schools (finance, accounting, reporting, etc.). This consolidation of services provided by the CMO supports a more economical, streamlined approach that provides consistency and affordability to each school. This structure also allows school-based personnel to focus on issues that directly relate to improving student achievement and outcomes, and key individuals at the CMO are able to ensure that a strong, evidence-based educational program with a track record of success is properly implemented.

To be clear, none of the schools under the iLearn Schools umbrella have ever been found to violate laws against discrimination or to have anything but clear and accurate financial and operational audits since our first charter, Bergen ASCS, was established in 2007.

We thank you for taking the time to read this communication.  Again, we are in the business of educating students in some of the most underserved urban areas of New Jersey, and we do it with a professional, certified, diverse, intelligent, and caring staff. We hope that in the future, the focus of all publications celebrates this fact.  Rather than spending valuable time discussing global issues of no importance to the education of our students, we are solely committed to the individual and collective success of our students, staff, and families.

We invite you to learn more about our schools by visiting www.ilearnschools.org.  Applications for enrollment for the 2017-2018 academic year are now being accepted.