The state Department of Education has denied requests from two Camden magnet schools that applied to be converted into charters.

In letters sent to the schools last week, Education Commissioner David Hespe wrote that the proposals from Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy and MetEast High School, which filed the petitions last year, did not provide enough evidence that the schools could work as effective charters.

In the letter to MetEast, Hespe said that the school's proposal relied heavily on developing community partnerships and creating an internship program for students, but that the application did not show that school leaders had secured that community support. The letter to Creative Arts stated that the proposal "was poorly written and did not demonstrate the founders have the organizational capacity to convert from a functioning public school."

The schools are the only two in Camden's state-run district to voluntarily consider changing into charter schools. School district spokesman Brendan Lowe said the schools applied for charter status independently.

"We respect the NJ DOE's decision, just as we respect our principals' desire to increase their autonomy," Lowe said Monday. "We will continue to work with all of our school leaders to make sure they are best positioned to help their students and staff be successful."

School administrators could appeal the decision through the state Supreme Court.

Only one other school in the state has asked for charter status, in Newark, but that bid was also denied last year.

Charters are publicly funded but privately run. Last year, the principals at Creative and MetEast said they had hoped the charter conversion could increase their autonomy and help them better serve students as the district undergoes staff reductions and other major changes. Both said they planned to run the schools independently, not bring in outside operators.

More than 90 percent of the teachers at MetEast favored the conversion, the administrators said then, as did nearly 90 percent at Creative Arts.

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