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State-appointed superintendent of schools in Newark, N.J., will step down.

State-appointed superintendent in Newark (N.J.) district will step down in February

Departure of Christopher Cerf coincides with the return of the school system to local control.

The state-appointed superintendent for the Newark (N.J.) school district will step down in February, paving the way for the district to select its own leader for the first time in 22 years

The Star-Ledger reports that Superintendent Christopher Cerf will resign on Feb. 1 -- the same day the state's takeover of Newark schools will officially end.

"Now is the time to focus on how we can all work together to ensure an orderly transition proceeds when we return from winter recess," Cerf wrote in an email to district employees. "To be clear, the most important action the board will take in the coming months is the search for and selection of a permanent superintendent."

The state Board of Education took control of Newark's public schools in 1995 after a state investigation found that district officials presided over mismanagement, neglect and corruption. Since then, the state has appointed the district's superintendents, who have veto power over the local school board. 

In September, state education officials approved returning local control of the Newark district.

Last week, the state approved a transition plan, that details a timeline and the search process for a new superintendent. 

Under the plan, the School Advisory Board will no longer be advisory and on Feb. 1 becomes a fully functioning Board of Education with the power to hire and fire its own superintendent.

Newark residents will vote in November 2018 on whether they want an elected school board or one appointed by the mayor.

A search committee of three board members, three Newark leaders jointly selected by the mayor and education commissioner, and one member appointed by the commissioner, will select a new superintendent by May 31.

The new superintendent, who will be responsible for the day-to-day management of 64 public schools, will begin July 1.

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