NJ Politics Digest: Gov. Phil Murphy May Make Over State School System

True, money alone won’t fix schools. But it does help it pay the bills and stay open.

Earlier this year, the state was hit with a lawsuit seeking to change what the plaintiffs say is one of the most segregated school systems in the nation.

Now, according to a report in NJ.com, Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration is indicating its willing to settle the suit without a fight.

Such a move would suit Murphy’s progressive agenda, but could also profoundly change how New Jersey, which currently requires students attend the district in which they live, operates its public schools.

The suit, filed in May by a coalition of civil rights groups, sought to end the residency requirement and to change the requirement that charter schools give priority to students in the district the school is located.

The state Attorney General’s Office on Friday asked for an extension for a required response to the suit, saying it needed the time to negotiate with the coalition, according to NJ.com.

In a letter asking for the extension, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said he was confident an “amicable resolution” is possible.

A spokesman for the coalition, however, warned the state must put forth “a concrete plan” to quickly ends the alleged segregation, NJ.com reported.

It’s not clear what a settlement might entail. And while the court challenge could give Murphy cover to institute changes, it is likely to be thin cover since Grewal, who has been vigorous in contesting numerous federal actions by the Trump administration, settled almost immediately when faced with an issue critical to New Jersey. A settlement that encompasses too radical a shift is likely to spur legal challenges and political backlash. New Jersey residents already pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation, and a large part of the tax bill helps fund local education.

Quote of the Day: “This is the governor’s appointment and it’s not always based on who’s best qualified, but who knows someone the best,” — Sen. Robert Singer, on Gov. Phil Murphy’s plan to appoint Bradley Billhimer as Ocean County Prosecutor.

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