Gov. Murphy's administration has signaled a willingness to settle with parents and civil rights groups suing New Jersey because they allege its schools are among the most segregated in the country and violate the rights of black and Latino students.
Facing a Friday deadline to respond to the suit, the governor's administration on Thursday asked for a two-week extension from a judge so the state can begin negotiations for a settlement. The judge granted the request and gave the state until Sept. 14 to respond.
"We are encouraged to believe that an amicable resolution is possible," the Office of the Attorney General wrote in the court filing. A meeting is scheduled for next week.
The Latino Action Network, the NAACP New Jersey State Conference, and other plaintiffs sued the state in May, calling New Jersey "complicit" in creating and maintaining a segregated public school system that violated the constitutional rights of hundreds of thousands of students. The suit says a significant number of black and Latino students attend schools that are almost entirely nonwhite, even though the statewide total of black and Latino students and the total of white students are nearly equal.
Segregation in public schools is prohibited in the state constitution, unlike the constitutions of Pennsylvania and other states.
Anthony Campisi, spokesman for the New Jersey Coalition for Diverse and Inclusive Schools, which is aiding the plaintiffs, called the Murphy administration's move Thursday "significant" as long as substantive negotiations move forward swiftly and result in more than words on a page.
"Any settlement needs to include a robust remediation plan that quickly addresses New Jersey's unacceptable level of segregation," Campisi said on Friday.
The Attorney General's Office declined to comment Friday.