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Paterson to Reclaim Full Control of School District

The New Jersey State Board of Education voted to return full local control to the Paterson Public Schools Board of Education on Jan. 6.

The move was made following nearly 30 years of state control of district operations, and was the second school district to be withdrawn under the Murphy Administration: Newark regained control in July 2020.

“The resolution adopted today marks a momentous day for Paterson Public Schools,” said Gov. Phil Murphy. “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. 

Authority Suspension Dates Back to 1991

On Aug. 7, 1991, the State Board of Education suspended the authority of the Paterson Public Board of Education and took control of the school district. The district was struggling with management issues at the time.

In 2018, the department determined the city could regain control of the school district as it had met the qualifications necessary for a return.

“This is a great day for Paterson Public Schools,” said Kenneth L. Simmons, President of the Paterson Board of Education. “Let it be a starting point for the great achievements of our students and our schools that will be made in this new era of Paterson Public Schools that is ultimately governed by the people of Paterson.”

Local Rule

Simmons said its paramount that the decisions to be about the future of our children will be made by those from the community.

“Those decisions will be made by the people of the Paterson community through their duly elected members of their Board of Education,” he said. “The board is more empowered now to act than it has been in 30 years, but we must always act with the needs of our students as our top priority.” 

The department turned to the Bloustein Local Government Research Center at Rutgers University to to create a Comprehensive Accountability Office (CAO) to assess the school district’s progress toward meeting benchmarks in the transition plan, which the school district met in final reports issued on Jan. 6.

New Jersey Officials Laud the Move

A variety of New Jersey officials lauded the announcement.

“As a former educator, I know well that our education system is the cornerstone of society. Wherever we go as a community, as a state, as a country, and as a civilization depends first on our commitment to education,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. “Amid a pandemic and against long odds, the Silk City has proven itself once again to be the city that never quits.”

“Today is truly a historic day in the City of Paterson,” said Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh. “Regaining full local control has been a top priority and this restoration will finally allow Patersonians to have a seat at the table to make decisions toward our children’s future. From the administrators to the educators, I can’t thank you enough for your steadfast commitment to lead us toward this milestone.”

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