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Newark Regains Local Control Of Schools

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — For the first time in more than two decades, Newark has regained local control of the city’s public school system.

The New Jersey State Board of Education voted on the matter at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

The vote came several weeks after state Education Commissioner Kimberly Harrington supported the move, following a performance review that demonstrated the district has made progress in improving performance.

“As we hand over the reins to local control, I offer nothing but support and hope for the success of the district,” said Governor Chris Christie.

The state has controlled Newark’s public schools since 1995 because of academic underperformance and management and budget issues. State-appointed superintendents have had veto power over school board decisions. Former superintendent Cami Anderson left in 2015 amid criticism that she was autocratic and failed to engage the community. Her successor and current superintendent, Christopher Cerf, was charged with getting the district out from under state control.

Mayor Ras Baraka said the transfer of power is vital to the community.

“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,” he said. “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.”

School Advisory Board Chair Marques-Aquil Lewis echoed Baraka’s sentiments.

“We’re very equipped and we’re ready for this challenge that we’re facing,” said Lewis. “Today marks a new day, a new era where we can really see what the community can really do and be involved in. This is a new day for our city.”

Harrington and the district will create a transition plan to guide the transition and the search for a superintendent before the board officially receives control. The board will then choose a superintendent.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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