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NJ officials and plaintiffs in landmark school segregation case begin mediation

NJ officials and plaintiffs in landmark school segregation case begin mediation

Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration has begun mediation discussions with a coalition of New Jersey nonprofits that sued the state alleging pervasive de facto segregation across the state’s public schools.

No details were divulged on what the parties have discussed, but representatives from both sides expressed interest in resolving their differences in the talks, which are expected to extend into next year. It’s hardly clear what remedies for addressing the problem might be in the offing.

In their lawsuit, the coalition plaintiffs claimed that nearly half of New Jersey’s Black and Latino students attended public schools where 90% of their classmates were non-white. Their complaint cited a 2016 UCLA study, which also determined New Jersey is the sixth-most-segregated state in the country for Black students and the seventh-most-segregated state for Latinos.

In October, a Superior Court judge issued a mixed ruling in the landmark case, which has gone on for five years. Judge Robert Lougy said the plaintiffs had not proven that New Jersey’s educational system is segregated “across all districts.” But he also said the state had failed in its obligation to address segregation where it exists in the system.

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