Newark, N.J., Regains Control of Its Schools After 22-Year State Takeover

September 14, 2017

A new chapter is beginning for the state's largest public school system.

The state Board of Education voted Wednesday to end its takeover of the Newark school district and begin the transition to return control to the locally-elected school board after 22 years.

"Today it ends," said Sen. Teresa Ruiz, D-Essex. "And local control returns. And what does that mean? It means a lot of work."

The move comes after decades of fierce battles with the state and boiling frustrations among Newarkers who had little leverage over their schools.

Key in the power shift: The local school board will now have the ability to hire and fire its own superintendent.

"The people of Newark, we have some self-determination," Mayor Ras Baraka said. "We now have control over our own children's lives. It doesn't mean that we won't make mistakes or there won't be any errors or obstacles ... we have the right to make mistakes, we have the right to correct them ourselves. We think that we know what's best for the kids in our city."

In a packed room, filled with education advocates, political leaders and the local school board, the state board voted Wednesday to begin a months-long transition plan to hand over the reins of the district. The room erupted in applause.

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