Appeals court says state intervention in Newark schools can continue

TRENTON – The Superior Court Appellate Division has ruled in favor of the state Department of Education in its continued intervention and supervision of the Newark public schools.

The Newark Public Schools Advisory Board  and the Coalition for Effective Newark Public Schools had appealed a  determination of the Commissioner of Education but were turned back Monday.

“We are convinced that there is sufficient credible evidence  in the record to support the Commissioner’s refusal to recommend return to local control of the district’s personnel and governance functions,” the court stated.

The court goes into great detail in its ruling concerning what it termed the sometimes “fluctuating” scores the district received in evaluations of governance and personnel matters.

“Based on these fluctuating scores alone, the Commissioner  could reasonably refuse to recommend withdrawal of State intervention in the areas of personnel and governance. The Commissioner could rationally find that the district had not achieved sufficient progress in satisfying the relevant quality performance indicators,” the court ruled.

In the area of fiscal management, that portion of the appeal became moot, the court said.

“By letter dated June 4, 2013, the Assistant Attorney General advised the court that upon development of an appropriate transition plan, the Commissioner will recommend to the State Board that the process for withdrawal of State intervention in the area of fiscal management be initiated,” the court found.

The state Legislature has held hearings into the state’s continued involvement in certain public school districts, including Newark. State Sen. Ron Rice, for one, has long been an advocate of returning control to the local officials, arguing that sufficient improvement has been more than shown over the years.

Appeals court says state intervention in Newark schools can continue