New Jersey school district gets local control after 30 years being run by state

PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- A New Jersey school district that has been under state control for 30 years reached a major milestone Wednesday.

The state Board of Education voted to restore local control to the Paterson School District, with the decision following the district's completion of a two-year transition plan.

The state took control of Paterson schools in 1991 amid allegations of widespread corruption, including fiscal mismanagement, nepotism and a host of serious problems.

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The move means parents will now have some say in how the schools are run, and the city can determine its own future.

"The resolution adopted today marks a momentous day for Paterson Public Schools," Governor Phil Murphy said. "This milestone is made possible due to the dedication of the district's school board, administrators, educators, and students who have conquered the challenges they faced. I am confident that Paterson Public Schools will continue to provide our students with the high-quality education that they deserve."

The city had to meet a list of criteria, including getting students' grades up to par. Superintendent Eileen Shafer called it a momentous day.

"We went through the two year transition plan," she said. "And now today, full local control."

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Schools are currently closed for in-person learning due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it's unclear when students will be returning to the buildings.

On May 2, 2018, the Board of Education unanimously decided to put the district on a path to local control.

Since then, the district has been working to complete the transition plan.

This is the second school district to be withdrawn from state control under the Murphy Administration. The State Board of Education returned full local control to Newark Public Schools in July 2020.

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