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Where Are We Now In The Latino Action Network, Et Al. V. State Of New Jersey, School Integration Lawsuit?

Written by: Saray Ramos, Director of Policy and Advocacy.

The ongoing New Jersey school segregation case has moved into a mediation phase process in which Plaintiffs and the State of NJ are considering possible remedies for segregation and to improve the quality of learning for New Jersey students. 

Mediation Phase Initiated: 

What is Mediation? Mediation is an alternative resolution where a neutral third party, known as a mediator, facilitates discussions between disputing parties to help them reach a mutually acceptable agreement or resolution.

Why did we move into Mediation? Following a 99-page opinion from a Superior Court Judge on October 6th, 2023 and after over five years of legal proceedings, all involved parties have agreed to enter into mediation discussions, the primary goal is to prevent prolonged litigation and find a resolution through mutual agreement rather than continued courtroom battles. 

Judge’s Opinion

Mixed Findings: New Jersey Superior Court Judge Robert T. Lougy recently delivered a 99- page opinion that had mixed outcomes:

  • Acknowledgement of the state’s failure to address racial segregation in the below districts, which in turn rejects the state’s argument that it should not be held responsible.

  • Camden: Camden City, Lawnside Boro, and Woodlynne Boro

  • Essex: East Orange, Irvington, Newark, and Orange

  • Hudson: Guttenberg, North Bergen, Union City, and West New York

  • Mercer: Trenton

  • Middlesex: New Brunswick and Perth Amboy

  • Monmouth: Asbury Park and Red Bank Boro

  • Passaic: Passaic, Paterson, and Prospect Park Boro

  • Union: Elizabeth, Hillside, Plainfield, and Roselle.

However, the judge does not entirely support the plaintiff’s argument that segregation exists across all school districts. He acknowledged segregation evidence in the 23 districts by plaintiffs but did not extend his ruling to every district in the state.

Judge Lougy’s opinion left uncertainties regarding the specific steps to address and rectify the issue of segregation across schools. In response to this and to seek resolution, the parties involved have collectively decided to temporarily pause the legal fight. This pause aims to facilitate a mediation process that allows for discussion and negotiations to find a resolution acceptable to all parties involved. 

Mediation and Remedies

Parties have enlisted former New Jersey Supreme Court Associate Justice Barry. T Albin as the mediator.  The sessions will focus on addressing issues of liability, exploring potential remedies, and ensuring inclusive participation from relevant stakeholders.  


The following are possible remedies that have been in discussion:

  1. High quality themed magnet schools, such as Music and Art, Aerospace and Engineering, Science, and Innovation, and Global and International Studies. These magnet schools will be in or near urban communities and will attract students from both urban and suburban communities. This remedy has been successful in other States.

  2. Inter-district Choice, which has succeeded in other States and has been successful for Boston children for over 60 years. It allows urban schoolchildren to attend schools in nearby suburbs from Kindergarten to High School, with free transportation and support staff to assist children in transitioning to a new school.

  3. Changing admission standards for high-performing Vo-tech schools to allow greater attendance by schoolchildren from urban districts.

  4. Requiring the State to provide funding to introduce Community School programs in every segregated school district. Community Schools, which are successfully helping schoolchildren in many other States, provide essential supplemental services to children and parents including counseling, healthcare, English language learning, and numerous other supplemental services depending on the needs of the families in each school district.

Community Input:

Now that we have entered a mediation process, the focus is on ensuring that broad community input is incorporated into the discussions regarding potential solutions to address de facto segregation in New Jersey. To facilitate this, a coalition of education equity advocates has so far organized two town halls. These meetings aim to aid this process by informing community members about the lawsuit’s status and gathering community recommendations.

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