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N.J. Reports Outline Options in Desegregation Battle

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The New Jersey Department of Education last week released two long-awaited and potentially controversial studies outlining various solutions to a desegregation battle involving several Bergen County school districts.

The department had commissioned the two studies to find effective, politically feasible ways to address the racial isolation of minority students at Dwight Morrow High School in the Englewood school system. That district's efforts to address the problem have embroiled it in a long-running legal battle with the neighboring school districts of Tenafly and Englewood Cliffs. (See Education Week, 6/23/93.)

State education officials commented little in releasing the two reports, one of which suggests various plans to merge Englewood and surrounding districts. The officials said they are planning public hearings on the recommendations next month and in October, and expect the state school board and education commissioner to make a decision during the winter.

Looking for Solutions

The department asked Applied Data Services of Flanders, N.J., to study various plans to regionalize the schools. The options discussed in its 650-page report include establishing a regional magnet school district involving 20 school systems in the area.

The company's study includes a long list of possible state-imposed regionalization plans, each of which would merge at least four of the following districts: Englewood, Englewood Cliffs, Tenafly, Alpine, Leonia, and Edgewater. Although Gov. Christine Todd Whitman's administration has not specifically called for any such remedy, state officials in the past have maintained that they have the authority to order racially segregated districts to merge.

For the second study, on solutions other than regionalization, Harry Galinsky, a retired superintendent of the Paramus, N.J., schools, extensively interviewed superintendents, school board members, and community representatives in the 20 area districts.

He recommends that the state commissioner order district representatives to come together in a formal body to discuss solutions to the racial isolation of Englewood students. He said the commissioner should insure the districts' independence and then tell their representatives to devise a regional plan that the state could then order implemented.

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