Opponents of charter school call for federal investigation

HIGHLAND PARK - Opponents of a proposed charter school in Middlesex County are calling for a federal investigation into apparent misstatements that resulted in a $600,000 federal grant.

Earlier this month, Kane In Your Corner examined the application filed by founders of the proposed Tikun Olam school. Among other things, it claimed the school would be located at a church in New Brunswick and that several local politicians, including Assemblyman Peter Barnes, supported it. However, the archdiocese actually says it would not approve the use of that location and Barnes says he is actually adamantly opposed to the school.

The NJ Department of Education turned down Tikun Olam's application Friday, but opponents aren't satisfied, noting that filing false information on a federal grant application is a criminal offense punishable by a fine, a year in prison or both.

"If you sign an application under penalties of perjury and then you provide misinformation, then where are the penalties of perjury?" opponent Darcie Cimarusti says. Cimarusti also wants the state to refuse to hear any new applications for the school.

Sharon Akman, the lead founder of Tikun Olam, insists that there were no false statements made in her application and that any person who claims to be misrepresented must have changed their position since she spoke to them. She tells News 12 New Jersey's Walt Kane that she has not decided whether to reapply, but is disappointed that her application was rejected.

"It's unfortunate because it's a wonderful opportunity for the community," Akman said.

Proposed charter school awarded money despite misinformation

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