A group of parents in Camden are petitioning a judge to immediately allow their children to be transferred to new schools because the one they're attending is so bad, it doesn't provide a thorough and efficient education - something required by the state Constitution.


Julio Gomez, one of the attorneys representing the parents, says, "The importance of the case is that children should not have to attend schools that the state has already determined are not providing an education - no child, regardless of where they live, should be forced to attend a school that simply is not teaching."

He says, "We want for a court to finally say when the state has determined that a school district is failing to provide a thorough and efficient education - no child should have to go back to that school again. There are plenty of good schools in the state that these children can go to and start getting the education that they are entitled to…The Education Commissioner has actually said, in the last 10 years, this school district has failed in its mission of educating students - 10 years!"

Another lawyer working on the case, Patricia Bombelyn, says, "By every statutory and regulatory measure of district functioning, which is how the state determines whether there's a through and efficient education being provided, Camden is failing. Over the last year, Camden has undergone a series of audits by the Department of Education, and their performance scored on a 100 percentage point scale for instruction is nine…Camden is so woefully deficient that we maintain this case isn't about whether the children are being deprived- there's no question they're being deprived. The question is how urgently will we respond to ensure that the deprivation is being removed."

She adds, "Camden is the worst of the absolute worst. I know there are really bad conditions in other districts throughout the state- there are some districts that have a similar graduation rate to Camden, which is 56 percent, but they're not failing in all the different ways that Camden is also failing…It's astonishing - there is not a single criteria by which they are succeeding - with the sole exception of fiscal management, but that's because the state has imposed on them a fiscal monitor to ensure that they're dealing with the money properly."


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