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Judge Nixes N.J. School Provision

August 6, 2002

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CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) _ A state judge ruled Monday that putting the city’s school board under the control of the governor violates the state constitution.

The provision had been included in a $175 million bill signed by the governor last month that was designed to revitalize the city of Camden, which has the nation’s third-highest poverty rate.

Judge Andrew Smithson only struck down the portion of the legislation that stripped local control from the school board.

The bill would have let the governor and mayor each appoint three members of the Camden school board and give the governor veto power over the board’s decisions.

Currently, all nine school board members are elected by the public.

School board lawyers had challenged the law on grounds that it was written to benefit a specific community, which they argued made it unconstitutional.

``The school board, and the people of Camden, thank the judge for cutting to the heart of the Camden recovery legislation and seeing it for what it was: a blatant attempt to subjugate the citizens of the city,″ the board’s president, Sara Davis, said in a statement.

The state was considering whether to appeal, said Paul Loriquet, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office.

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