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New Era of Local Control in Newark, N.J., After 22 Years

After 22 years, Newark, N.J., residents have regained control of their schools.

The state took over the city's troubled schools in 1995 under its takeover law.

Christopher Cerf, the former state education commissioner who has been the city's superintendent since 2015, stepped down as the district leader. One of his deputies, Robert Gregory, a former school principal, will serve as the interim superintendent until a permanent replacement is found.

The elected school board, which primarily served in an advisory capacity, will now act as a fully functioning school board—though a monitor will be following the city's progress and compliance with a transition plan over the next two years. 

Locals have long protested state oversight, but those efforts accelerated when Ras Baraka, a former Newark principal became mayor in 2014. Local control was a key part of Baraka's mayoral campaign. 

Former Gov. Chris Christie and Baraka reached an agreement in 2015 to begin to process of returning the schools to city control. And last September, the state board of education approved resolutions allowing the transition to go forward. State intervention is still in place in the cities of Paterson and Camden.

In recent years, Newark has seen its graduation rate improve to 78 percent, and the district now out-performs most school systems with similar demographics in reading and math, according to the district.

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