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The 'Tragic' Story of Abbott

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Where is Raymond Arthur Abbott, and what is he doing now?

No one seems to know exactly--not even his mother--but all agree it is a sad tale. "Tragic" is how his lawyer, Marilyn J. Morheuser, put it.

The first-named plaintiff in New Jersey's school-finance lawsuit quit high school in 1986, and "dropped out of sight" soon after, said his mother, Frances L. Cherry.

Ms. Cherry hears from her son "sporadically," she said.

"He'll call me collect, and I'll say, 'How are you?' and he'll say, 'I'm all right, but I don't want you to know where I am,"' she said.

Mr. Abbott, who will turn 21 this month, was in the 5th grade when the suit was filed in 1981.

In high school, he was diagnosed as having severe psychological and emotional problems.

His mother, who has worked in the Camden school system for 21 years, said she does not blame the schools for her son's troubles. "Camden just didn't have the resources to identify his problems," she said.

Last week, Ms. Cherry learned her son was facing a burglary charge in New York State.

She said she continues to follow the progress of Abbott v. Burke, and was encouraged by Judge Steven L. Lefelt's ruling last year that the state's school-finance formula is unconstitutional.

"I just hope that someone who's in 5th grade now won't have to wait until he's 21 for this whole problem to be solved," she added.--mn

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