Governor Christie has named a onetime Iranian refugee as the new superintendent of Camden schools.

Gov. Chris Christie and Paymon Rouhanifard (Tim Larsen, Governor's Office)

“Every child in New Jersey, regardless of zip code, deserves access to a high-quality education, and I’m confident Paymon Rouhanifard is the right person to make this goal a reality,” said Gov. Christie during a ceremony this morning in Camden.

Rouhanifard, who previously worked in the Newark and New York City public school systems, was selected from more than 100 candidates.

“If what we care most about is that every child in Camden has access to a great school, then the path ahead of us is clear,” said Rouhanifard. “While it will not be easy, and will require the support of the entire Camden community, we can and will put every child on a path to success. I’m ready to get to work.”

The state assumed control of the schools in June in the crime-plagued city of 80,000 on the Delaware River across from Philadelphia. Ninety percent of the district schools are in the bottom 5 percent in performance statewide. The four-year graduation rate in 2012 was 49 percent. Of those who do graduate, only one out of four do so by passing the state's high school exam. Only 2 percent of the students score 1550 or higher on their SATs, a metric defined as indicating a high likelihood of college success and completion.

Rouhanifard was born in Iran, where his family fled when he was a young child. Leaving everything behind, they lived in refugee camps in neighboring countries and Europe before moving to the United States, where Rouhanifard entered first grade as an English language learner. His family instilled in him a deep passion and commitment to public education as the path for all children, regardless of life circumstance, to have the opportunity to be successful in college and career.