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Jersey City (N.J.) district regains local control after 28 years

State officials have been in charge of the school system since 1989.

The state of New Jersey's takeover of the Jersey City school district is coming to an end 28 years after the system was deemed a "total educational failure." 

NJ.com reports that the state Board of Education has voted to give the district local control over its instruction and programming, the final administrative category under supervision from the state. The district and state will develop a transition plan for Jersey City to emerge from state intervention. 

"Our goal has always been to support the state-operated school districts on a path to full local control, and today's announcement is proof of our continued commitment to that goal," says Acting Education Commissioner Kimberley Harrington.

The state says that its school monitoring system – the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (NJQSAC) – is the framework used to evaluate districts in five separate functional areas: governance, fiscal management, personnel, operations, and instruction and program. A 2007 law provides for state-operated districts to regain control of areas in which they have consistently received strong scores on the NJQSAC state accountability scale, as long as the district has adequate programs, policies and personnel to demonstrate that the growth is sustainable.

 

"This is truly a historic day," says Arcelio Aponte, president of the state board. "The path ahead will certainly be a promising path, a hopeful path for the children of Jersey City."  

The State Board of Education passed a resolution that states "Jersey City Public Schools has demonstrated substantial and sustained progress in improving its NJQSAC scores in Instruction and Program … as well as substantial evidence that the public school district has adequate programs, policies and personnel in place and in operation to ensure that the demonstrated progress in Instruction and Program will be sustained."

The state took over Jersey City's school district in 1989 after education officials determined that the city's schools were failing and hurting students. It was the first school system taken over by New Jersey's state government, which later took control of Newark, Paterson and Camden schools for similar troubles. 

Jersey City slowly regained local authority over other aspects of its district beginning a decade ago, according to state officials. It earned control over personnel in 2015, the second-to-last step in the process. 

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop says Wednesday's vote validated the district's progress. Still, the district must continue improving, Superintendent Marcia Lyles says. 

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