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Abbott v. Burke

June 24, 2003

RAYMOND ARTHUR ABBOTT, A MINOR, BY HIS GUARDIAN AD LITEM, FRANCES ABBOTT; ARLENE FIGUEROA, FRANCES FIGUEROA, HECTOR FIGUEROA, ORLANDO FIGUEROA AND VIVIAN FIGUEROA, MINORS, BY THEIR GUARDIAN AD LITEM, BLANCA FIGUEROA; MICHAEL HADLEY, A MINOR, BY HIS GUARDIAN AD LITEM, LOLA MOORE; HENRY STEVENS, JR., A MINOR, BY HIS GUARDIAN AD LITEM, HENRY STEVENS, SR.; CAROLINE JAMES AND JERMAINE JAMES, MINORS, BY THEIR GUARDIAN AD LITEM, MATTIE JAMES; DORIAN WAITERS AND KHUDAYJA WAITERS, MINORS, BY THEIR GUARDIAN AD LITEM, LYNN WAITERS; CHRISTINA KNOWLES, DANIEL KNOWLES, AND GUY KNOWLES, JR., MINORS, BY THEIR GUARDIAN AD LITEM, GUY KNOWLES, SR.; LIANA DIAZ, A MINOR, BY HER GUARDIAN AD LITEM, LUCILA DIAZ; AISHA HARGROVE AND ZAKIA HARGROVE, MINORS, BY THEIR GUARDIAN AD LITEM, PATRICIA WATSON; AND LAMAR STEPHENS AND LESLIE STEPHENS, MINORS, BY THEIR GUARDIAN AD LITEM, EDDIE STEPHENS, PLAINTIFFS-MOVANTS,
v.
FRED G. BURKE, COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION; EDWARD G. HOFGESANG, NEW JERSEY DIRECTOR OF BUDGET AND ACCOUNTING; CLIFFORD A. GOLDMAN, NEW JERSEY STATE TREASURER; AND NEW JERSEY STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.



ORDER

The within matter having been initiated by the Attorney General on behalf of the Department of Education (DOE or Department) on motion for modification of the decision in Abbott v. Burke, 153 N.J. 480 (1998) (Abbott V);

And the Supreme Court having duly considered that motion (M-976);

And the Court also having considered the cross-motions filed by the Education Law Center (ELC) for an order setting forth an expedited schedule in respect of decisions on district budgets and requiring the DOE to conduct a formal evaluation of the implementation of Whole School Reform (WSR), and for counsel fees (M-996/997);

And the Court having ordered on April 29, 2003, that the ELC and the DOE participate in mediation for the purpose of resolving the issues raised by the parties in their motion and cross-motion;

And the Court having ordered that Superior Court, Appellate Division, Judge Philip S. Carchman, be appointed to serve as mediator for the sole purpose of resolving the issues raised in defendants' motion and the cross-motion of plaintiffs; And the Court having further ordered that mediation be completed by May 30, 2003;

And the Court having further ordered that Judge Carchman report specifically on all areas of agreement and on any areas on which agreement could not be reached;

And the Court having been advised by Judge Carchman that the parties have complied with the Court's Order and have participated in mediation over a three-week period consisting of telephone conferences, the exchange of proposals and counter proposals and eight full-day mediation sessions;

And the Court having been further advised by Judge Carchman that the participants in mediation included David G. Sciarra, Esq., Executive Director of the ELC; Steven G. Block, Director of School Reform Initiatives for the ELC; Nancy Kaplen, Esq., Assistant Attorney General; Michelle Lynn Miller, Esq., Senior Deputy Attorney General; Hon. William L. Librera, Commissioner of Education (Commissioner); Gordon A. MacInnes, Assistant Commissioner of Education in charge of Abbott implementation; and Fred Carrigg, Special Assistant to the Commissioner for Urban Literacy;

And the Court having been further advised by Judge Carchman that, consistent with this Court's Order of April 29, 2003, "the positions espoused by those who were granted amicus curiae status" were considered and their counsel kept informed about the progress of the mediation;

And the Court having been further advised by Judge Carchman that the mediation resulted in the parties reaching agreement on all issues except the DOE's application to extend by one additional year the one-year relaxation of remedies previously granted in Abbott v. Burke, 172 N.J. 294 (2002) (Abbott IX); And the Court having acknowledged Judge Carchman's conclusion that the successful mediation between the parties bespeaks the commitment of all parties to ensuring the enhancement of educational opportunities for all students in the Abbott districts;

And the parties having previously reached agreement on an expedited budget process and appeals therefrom, as approved by the Court and set forth in this Court's Order filed May 21, 2003;

And the DOE having withdrawn its application for relief, except as to its request for a one-year extension of the relaxation of remedies granted by the Court in Abbott IX, which request remains unresolved by mediation and continues to be opposed by the ELC;

And the DOE having further agreed not to adopt the proposed regulations relating to the issues before the Court; And the Commissioner having reserved his right to adopt that portion of the proposed regulations related to the 2003-2004 maintenance budget in respect of the single issue the parties were unable to resolve;

And the ELC or Abbott districts having reserved their rights in respect of the single issue the parties were unable to resolve;

And the parties having requested that the Court direct the improvements to implementation of WSR and supplemental programs as agreed to in mediation;

And good cause appearing;

It is ORDERED that the mediated agreement set forth in

Judge Carchman's Report is approved by the Court as follows:

1. Every Abbott elementary school shall continue to implement WSR as required by Abbott V;

2. Every Abbott elementary school also shall continue to implement the selected WSR model, except as described below:

a. Low Performing Schools

(1) The Commissioner shall, based on progress benchmarks agreed to in mediation, designate schools as low performing. A low performing school is defined as a school whose percentage pass rate on the 2002 Elementary School Proficiency Assessment (ESPA) Language Arts Literacy subtest for general education students is fifty percent or less. The designation of low performing schools shall be adjusted by the Commissioner, as appropriate, based on mean score growth over four years (1999-2002);

(2) Low performing schools shall undergo a review and planning process to make informed decisions about school and/or program improvement as follows:

(a) A Performance Assessment Team (Team) shall be assigned to each low performing school. Teams shall include, but not be limited to, a highly skilled teacher, an administrator, and a parent. The Team, in collaboration with the School Management and Improvement Team (SMIT), shall review and assess obstacles to improved performance, including quality of instruction and school leadership; effectiveness of the SMIT; level of parent participation, WSR model implementation, support from DOE and the district central office; the adequacy of supplemental programs and services to meet student needs; and such other areas of inquiry as the Commissioner shall deem appropriate. The teams shall be assembled by the DOE in consultation with the district central office and, where appropriate, with such schools subject to review;

(b) The team, the district and the SMIT will develop an agreement based on the findings of the team as to the strategies and objectives for improving student achievement, how to implement those strategies and objectives, and the responsibilities of the various individuals and/or entities;

(c) The agreement shall include either (1) continued or improved implementation of the selected WSR model; (2) selection of another DOE-approved WSR model; or (3) an alternate WSR design;

(d) The Commissioner shall assist in resolving any disagreements between and among the Team, the SMIT and the district central office;

(e) The Commissioner shall review and approve the agreement. Upon approval, the district and the school shall present the agreement to the school community and to plaintiffs;

(f) Nothing herein shall limit the authority of the Commissioner to conduct a pilot program in ten low performing schools prior to the conclusion of the collaborative rulemaking process established below, notwithstanding that the ELC has not agreed to ...


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