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    Spotswood High School celebrated their prom at the South Gate Manor in Freehold.

    Spotswood High School's students arrived in style on Thursday at the South Gate Manor in Freehold for their senior prom.

    Prom-goers enjoyed the evening as they socialized, posed for photos and danced the night away.

    Check back at nj.com/middlesex for other local high school prom coverage. Also be sure to check out our complete prom coverage at nj.com/prom.

    BUY THESE PHOTOS

    Are you one of the people pictured at this prom? Want to buy the photo and keep it forever? Look for the blue link "buy photo" below the photographer's credit to purchase the picture. You'll have the ability to order prints in a variety of sizes, or products like magnets, keychains, coffee mugs and more.


    Patti Sapone may be reached at psapone@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Instagram @psapo, Twitter @psapone. Follow NJ.com on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.


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    METUCHEN -- This photo of Metuchen's Memorial Day parade was taken in 1948. MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey Metuchen's 91st annual Memorial Day Parade will start at 10 a.m. Monday. The parade will travel along Brunswick Avenue and proceed north to Main Street to New Street and conclude at the Plaza for a ceremony at 11:30 a.m. For more...

    METUCHEN -- This photo of Metuchen's Memorial Day parade was taken in 1948.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    Metuchen's 91st annual Memorial Day Parade will start at 10 a.m. Monday. The parade will travel along Brunswick Avenue and proceed north to Main Street to New Street and conclude at the Plaza for a ceremony at 11:30 a.m. For more information, go to metuchennj.org.

    If you would like to share a photo that provides a glimpse of history in your community, please call 973-836-4922 or send an email to middlesex@starledger.com. And, check out more glimpses of history in our online galleries on nj.com.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at ghatala@starledger.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.


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    Highlights of the second round of states.


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    The delays have only just begun on the Garden State Parkway, Atlantic City Expressway and I-I95 on Friday, May 25, 2018.

    If you tried to get a head start to beat the weekend Shore traffic, you weren't alone. 

    Delays had already begun along the Garden State Parkway as of 2 p.m. Here's a look at the Shore-bound traffic

    Garden State Parkway South, from the Raritan Toll Plaza: 

    • Exit 98, Belmar, 28 miles, 38 minutes
    • Exit 63, Long Beach, 61 miles, 1 hour 23 minutes
    • Exit 117, Sandy Hook, 8 miles, 11 minutes
    • Exit 38, Atlantic City, 89 miles, 1 hour 48 minutes
    • Exit 28, Ocean City, 98 miles, 1 hour 57 minutes
    • Exit 4, Wildwood, 122 miles, 2 hours 24 minutes

    Atlantic City Expressway East: 

    • Camden to Exit 63, Long Beach Island, on the Garden State Parkway, 72 miles, 1 hour 12 minutes
    • Camden to Exit 38, Atlantic City, on the Garden State Parkway, 45 miles, 50 minutes
    • Camden to Exit 28, Ocean City, on the Garden State Parkway, 53 miles, 1 hour 
    • Camden to Exit 4, Wildwood, on the Garden State Parkway, 78 miles, 1 hour 26 minutes

    I-195 East: 

    • Trenton to Exit 117, Sandy Hook, on the Garden State Parkway, 55 miles, 57 minutes
    • Trenton to Exit 98, Belmar, on the Garden State Parkway, 35 miles, 40 minutes
    • Trenton to Exit 63, Long Beach Island, on the Garden State Parkway, 68 miles, 1 hour 24 minutes
    • Trenton to Exit 38, Atlantic City, on the Garden State Parkway, 95 miles, 1 hour 48 minutes
    • Trenton to Exit 28, Ocean City, on the Garden State Parkway, 104 miles, 2 hours
    • Trenton to Exit 4, Wildwood, on the Garden State Parkway, 128 miles, 2 hours, 23 minutes

    In South Jersey, I-676 eastbound, 42 southbound and US 322 eastbound were all causing various traffic jams. Closer to the Shore, 72 eastbound and 37 eastbound had delays due to heavy traffic as well. 

     Amanda Hoover can be reached at ahoover@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandahoovernj. Find NJ.com on Facebook


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    Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    Three new Democrats were sworn into the state Assembly this past week. Watch video

    The body that makes New Jersey's laws just got three -- count 'em -- three new faces this week.  

    Democrats Linda Carter, Lisa Swain, and Chris Tully were sworn in at the Statehouse in Trenton on Thursday as the newest members of the state Assembly, the lower house of the New Jersey Legislature. 

    Carter, a Union County freeholder, replaces the late Jerry Green, who died at age 79 last month.

    Swain, the former mayor of Fair Lawn, and Tully, the former council president in Bergenfield, will be district mates. 

    They replace Joseph Lagana, who moved up to the state Senate last month when state Sen. Robert Gordon resigned to join the state Board of Public Utilities, and Tim Eustace, who resigned last month to take a job outside of state government.

    Carter -- a freeholder since 2010 and the first African-Amerian woman to serve as chairwoman of Union's freeholder board -- will represent central Jersey's 22nd district, which includes parts of Middlesex, Somerset and Union counties. 

    The Plainfield resident -- and former city council president -- vowed Thursday to focus on affordable housing, education funding, tax relief, environmental protection, and businesses owned by women and minorities. 

    "Now it's time to roll up my sleeves and get to work in passing legislation to make New Jersey safer, stronger and more affordable," said Carter, a school teacher in Passaic by trade.

    "I know how hard Assemblyman Green worked in making housing more affordable in our urban communities, and I am committing to picking up that torch and making him proud," she added.

    Both Swain and Tully will represent north Jersey's 38th district, which includes parts of Bergen and Passaic counties. 

    Swain spent 11 years on the Fair Lawn council before serving two terms as mayor. She is also a triathlete coach and previously managed a law firm. 

    "I welcome the challenge to tackle issues that impact our residents at the state level, and I promise to be a strong voice in Trenton for my constituents," Swain said. 

    Tully served on the Bergenfield council for eight years. He is also a former top aide to U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-5th Dist.

    "As a councilman, I learned the importance of being accessible to, and communicating with, my constituents," Tully said. "I will ensure that same level of outreach and accountability remains between myself and all the residents of all the towns in the 38th district."

    Because the three lawmakers being replaced are Democrats, members of that party from each of their districts picked who would take over.

    Carter, Swain, and Tully all must run in a special election this November for the final year of their seats' two-year terms.

    All three had to step down from their previous elected positions because New Jersey law forbids state lawmakers from holding two elected posts.

    They are the latest in a string of new Democratic lawmakers. A number of legislators resigned to take positions in new Gov. Phil Murphy's administration over the last few months.

    Brent Johnson may be reached at bjohnson@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @johnsb01. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.


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    The ceremony kicked off the unofficial start to the shore town's beach season. Watch video

    Remember enduring the nor'easters earlier this year? Or having to shovel snow or wear a parka just to get around from one place to the other? Everyone in New Jersey endured those conditions thinking of much warmer weather and time at the beach.

    The unlocking of the beach in Wildwood held Friday morning officially symbolized the end of the cold thoughts and the beginning of the summer season for the Shore.

    In front of some excited, screaming second-grade students from elementary schools around the island, city and local officials turned the ceremonial Wildwood key to the unlocking of the beach, to signify it is open to everyone and it will be guarded for the summer season.

    One of the officials who spoke during the unlocking ceremony was Wildwood Mayor Ernie Toriano, Jr.

    "After 17 of the 25 days having rain, the sunshine is a beautiful thing," Toriano said. "We have a beach that is second to none. We invite everyone to come down and enjoy the free beach, which is nice because people don't have to pay to use our beach. We are excited. The whole winter where it's the doom and gloom has subsided.

    "The sun is out, and we're an awake island."

    The unlocking of the beach coincides with the start of the 33rd annual International Kite Festival. Hundreds of kites flew high as the breeze along the ocean seemingly made octopi, pandas and even a rubber duck dance in the air. The kites flew high enough to be seen over the bridge on the way into the shore town. There will also be night kite flying with glow-in-the-dark kites.

    "This is the greatest day of the year for us because we officially open the 2018 season," said John Siciliano, executive director of the Wildwoods Tourism Authority. "Traditionally, this is the 33rd year in a row we have had the International Kite Festival as our opening event."

    Events like the unlocking of the beach and the kite festival are some of the activities the area uses to attract visitors to the city and help keep it viable, especially with competition from nearby beaches.

    "Cape May County is a tourism county," Siciliano added. "It is our number one industry. It's important to us because this is where our economy thrives."

    The International Kite festival will conclude on Sunday. Enjoy the unofficial start to the summer season.

    Chris Franklin can be reached at cfranklin@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @cfranklinnews. Find NJ.com on FacebookHave a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

     

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    J. P. Stevens High School held its 2018 prom on May 25th at the Addison Park with students dancing to the music played by Elite Sound Entertainment. Be sure to check out our complete prom coverage at nj.com/prom. J.P Stevens High School 2017 Prom (PHOTOS) SHARE YOUR PROM PHOTOS ON SOCIAL MEDIA Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @njdotcom and on Instagram @njdotcom. Then tag your photos #njprom. We'll retweet...

    J. P. Stevens High School held its 2018 prom on May 25th at the Addison Park with students dancing to the music played by Elite Sound Entertainment.

    Be sure to check out our complete prom coverage at nj.com/prom.

    J.P Stevens High School 2017 Prom (PHOTOS)

    SHARE YOUR PROM PHOTOS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

    Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @njdotcom and on Instagram @njdotcom. Then tag your photos #njprom. We'll retweet and repost the best pics! 

    Check back at nj.com/middlesex for other local high school prom coverage. And be sure to check out our complete  prom coverage at nj.com/prom.

    BUY THESE PHOTOS

    Are you one of the people pictured at this prom? Want to buy the photo and keep it forever? Look for the blue link "buy photo" below the photographer's credit to purchase the picture. You'll have the ability to order prints in a variety of sizes, or products like magnets, keychains, coffee mugs and more.

    Aristide Economopoulos can be reached at aeconomopoulos@njadvancemedia.com and you can follow him on Twitter at @AristideNJAM and Instagram at @aeconomopoulos  Find NJ.com on Facebook


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    The annual poppy sale raises money for veterans' housing, mental health care, transportation and more. Watch video

    A Memorial Day poppy sale to benefit disabled veterans took a disappointing turn Friday when Thomas Coohill looked up from talking with a driver to see that three bags of the plastic poppies and an unknown amount of money were gone, police said. 

    Coohill, the commander of East Brunswick Memorial VFW Post 133, was handing out the "Buddy Poppies" and soliciting donations near Ryders Lane and Cranbury Road around 4:45 p.m. when the theft occurred, East Brunswick police said in a statement. 

    Veterans of Foreign Wars posts across the country buy the poppies from disabled veterans who assemble them in VA Hospitals. They then pass them out while requesting donations that ultimately support housing, crisis mental health care, transportation, scholarships, food and more for veterans in need. 

    Recognized as the official memorial flower of the VFW, the poppy recognizes service men and women who have lost their lives in the line of duty. 

    Pledges of donations to the East Brunswick VFW have poured in as news of the theft has spread, Coohill said when reached by phone. He planned to head back outside Saturday to continue passing out poppies. 

    The VFW post said on Facebook that donations can be mailed to or dropped off at the post at 485 Cranbury Rd., with checks made out to VFW Post 133.

    Police ask anyone with information about the theft to call them at 732-390-6900. They are also accepting confidential tips by calling 732-4EBTIPS (328477) or emailing tips@ebpd.net. 

    Marisa Iati may be reached at miati@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @Marisa_Iati or on Facebook here. Find NJ.com on Facebook

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    Officials said they didn't know how long the men had been living in the structure.

    Two men were killed Saturday night when fire swept through a boarded-up house in New Brunswick where they had been staying for an unknown period of time.

    Police said the fire appears to have been an accident, and that the two men who died were squatters who gained access to the condemned structure.

    The blaze at 289 Seaman St. was reported at 9:53 p.m., New Brunswick Deputy Fire Chief Kevin McCann said on Sunday afternoon.

    When firefighters and others arrived, the house was "fully involved in fire," the New Brunswick Police Department said in a statement.

    McCann said doors and windows at the the two-and-a-half story wood-frame structure had been sealed up with plywood, complicating the work of firefighters responding to the blaze.

    Both men were unresponsive when found on the second floor, police said. They were later pronounced dead at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.

    It is not known long the men, both believed to have been approximately 35 years old, had been living in the house, McCann said.

    McCann said the structure had been a residential home before being boarded up at least a year ago.

    Four firefighters were treated at the scene for minor injuries, such as a hand burn, that did not require hospitalization, McCann said.

    Both the first and second floors of the house sustained heavy damage, McCann said.

    Up to 25 firefighters from North Brunswick, East Franklin, South River East Brunswick and Edison responded to the fire.

    Rob Jennings may be reached at rjennings@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobJenningsNJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.  

     

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    Pets throughout New Jersey await adoption.

    Petfinder.com, where you can find nearly a quarter of a million adoptable pets listed by more than 12,000 adoption groups, offers these seasonal tips to pet owners:

    * There will be plenty of sticks and branches on the ground after winter, and they can cause choking and severe mouth injuries to dogs. If your pet likes to chew and chase, make sure to use a tennis ball, Frisbee or other toy instead of branches.

    * You might be doing some spring cleaning; if a pet ingests a household cleaner, don't call a human poison control center - they won't be able to help with animals. Call your vet or the ASPCA poison control hotline, 888-426-4435.

    * Dogs can get seasonal allergies just like people ... but they manifest themselves in dogs more as skin conditions than sneezing. Check with your vet for treatment options.

    * Flea and tick prevention for dogs and cats should be continued year-round, but even if you take a break during winter months, make sure to apply the preventatives before the weather warms up.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at ghatala@starledger.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.


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    The villain is the plastic that has been washing up on Jersey beaches at alarming - and increasing - rates, environmentalists say. The debris can choke or otherwise harm sea creatures, which eat or become entangled in the discarded waste.

    It's hard not to get discouraged reading about the White House's assault on breathable air, clean drinking water and toxin-free foods.

    The administration seems determined to roll back the progress of the last two or three decades, simultaneously deregulating entire industries while giving businesses a green light to pollute and despoil.

    So it comes as welcome news that lawmakers in the Garden State have quietly gone about doing their part to mitigate some of the damage.

    Two examples stand out. One is a unanimous vote earlier this month by Monmouth Beach officials to ban single-use plastic bags, straws and food containers, as well as Styrofoam boxes for take-out food.

    The second is bill on the state level that would prohibit the sale of food and drinks in Styrofoam containers in New Jersey's public schools and public institutions of higher ed.

    The common goal here: Ridding our shores and our schools of non-biodegradable products that cannot be recycled or reused.

    The Monmouth Beach ordinance, which applies to local restaurants, grocers and other vendors, carries fines of up to $2,400, but Mayor Sue Howard noted that offenders would receive warnings for initial violations.

    Plastic or paper? Not a choice anymore under ban

    The villain is the plastic that has been washing up on Jersey beaches at alarming - and increasing - rates, environmentalists say. The debris can choke or otherwise harm sea creatures, which eat or become entangled in the discarded waste.

    Several other shore communities have adopted or are considering imposing curbs on the use of disposable plastic items, which find their way into the Atlantic Ocean via storm drains, dumping or other routes.

    Meanwhile, state Sens. Christopher Bateman (R-16th District) and Troy Singleton (D-7th District) are promoting a measure that would ban the use of polystyrene food containers - you know it better as Styrofoam - which have been associated with high levels of waste pollution.

    The bipartisan bill was released from the Senate Environment and Energy Committee by a 5-0 vote, and now heads to the full Senate.

    Singleton noted that the impetus for the measure came from students in Palmyra's Charles Street School. He lauded it as a "simple, common-sense step towards creating a more sustainable environment in New Jersey."

    Additionally, the senator said, watching their idea progress from concept to law gives the youngsters a real-life civic lesson.

    These bans may represent small steps in the fight against pollution, but they're cause for hope - hope that our state's policy-makers have not been swept up in the deregulatory tsunami washing over Washington.

    Bookmark NJ.com/Opinion. Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find NJ.com Opinion on Facebook.

     

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    Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday delivered his first Memorial Day speech, in Woodbridge.

    New Jerseyans consider Memorial Day the unofficial start of the summer -- "with barbecues and trips to the Shore," Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday. 

    "But we must always remember it is because of the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform that we have the liberty which provides us these moments," Murphy stressed in his first Memorial Day speech as governor.

    Murphy spoke to a crowd of military veterans and active service members outside the VFW in the Iselin section of Woodbridge. He thanked "mourning families" who lost loved ones in peacetime and war. 

    "We thank you not just for their service but your service," the Democratic governor said. "You are not the only ones keeping their memories alive."

    Murphy thanked the veterans who survived for "answering the call and duty to protect the very ideals on which this country was founded: patriotism and liberty.

    "You are here today as the living reminders of the horrible cost of war and protector of your brothers and sisters in arms who are no longer with us," he said. "As we strive as a state to honor your service and make sure we never forget you, you in turn ensure we never forget them."

    Murphy noted how across centuries-old New Jersey, veterans dating to the Revolutionary War are buried in church cemeteries. 

    "Today, their graves are graced with our nation's flags," he said. "But our duty is to make sure we also remember them not just today but tomorrow and every day."

    And Murphy ended by addressing the younger people in the crowd. 

    "It will be your generations duty to carry on these traditions and ensure that after we're gone the sacrifices made by those we honored today contuse to be honored on Memorial Day and every day," he said. 

    Mike Serak, a 90-year-old Fords resident who served in the Army in World War II and the Korean War, sat in the front row and said he found Murphy's comments "emotional."

    "We remember our fallen comrades who went out and put their lives in jeopardy and the sacrifices they made and how they left their families," Serak said.

    There was a light moment, though. Murphy started the day by marching in a Memorial Day parade up the Garden State Parkway in Union Township. 

    So he came to the Iselin event dressed not in a suit but in a casual patriotic getup: black fleece, bright red button-down shirt, white pants, and light blue walking shoes.

    Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac -- a former state treasurer and a member of Murphy's transition team this past winter -- apologized to the crowd. 

    "He's in parade-walking gear," McCormac, a fellow Democrat, joked.

    Brent Johnson may be reached at bjohnson@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @johnsb01. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.


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    Photographers from NJ Advance Media are covering proms around the state. Check out the list below with our most recent prom photo galleries from the past week. Be sure to check out our complete prom coverage at nj.com/prom. SHARE YOUR PROM PHOTOS ON SOCIAL MEDIA Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @njdotcom and on Instagram @njdotcom. Then tag your photos #njprom. We'll retweet and repost the...

    Photographers from NJ Advance Media are covering proms around the state. Check out the list below with our most recent prom photo galleries from the past week.

    Be sure to check out our complete prom coverage at nj.com/prom.

    SHARE YOUR PROM PHOTOS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

    Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @njdotcom and on Instagram @njdotcom. Then tag your photos #njprom. We'll retweet and repost the best pics! 

    BUY THESE PHOTOS

    Are you one of the people pictured at this prom? Want to buy the photo and keep it forever? Look for the blue link "buy photo" below the photographer's credit to purchase the picture. You'll have the ability to order prints in a variety of sizes, or products like magnets, keychains, coffee mugs and more.

    Aristide Economopoulos can be reached at aeconomopoulos@njadvancemedia.com and you can follow him on Twitter at @AristideNJAM and Instagram at @aeconomopoulos  Find NJ.com on Facebook


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    NJ Advance Media takes a crack at predicting who makes the sectional finals.


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    Two men from Edison were arrested early Saturday morning in downtown Hoboken when they became combative with police, authorities said.

    Two men from Edison were arrested early Saturday morning in downtown Hoboken when they became combative with police, authorities said. 

    Arnav Shah, 23, was charged with aggravated assault and disorderly conduct; while Sheel Shah, 21, was charged with aggravated assault, possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. Police did not know if the two are related.

    Police responded to the area of Newark and River streets at 3 a.m. on the report of a large fight and when they attempted to separate the people fighting, Sheel Shah took a shovel and tried to strike a man, Hoboken Lt. Edgardo Cruz said.

    One police officer took the shovel from Shah and placed him under arrest, Cruz said. A second officer was trying to restrain Arnav Shah when Shah struck the officer on the side of her face. After a brief struggle, the officer restrained Arnav Shah and arrested him, Cruz said.

    Both Shahs were taken to headquarters and received summonses to appear in court, said Cruz. The police officer was not seriously injured and was able to continue her tour of duty.

     

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    Just because desegregation is controversial doesn't mean it won't happen.

    The statistics are undeniable. Across New Jersey, hundreds of thousands of black and Hispanic students attend schools that are almost entirely non-white

    The question is whether the state should step in to do something about it. 

    A lawsuit filed earlier this month accuses the state of being complicit in allowing one of the most segregated school systems in America and calls for a comprehensive desegregation plan

    The legal challenge, filed by a coalition of civil rights groups, has spurred questions about what segregation really means and what changes could be in store for students if the lawsuit succeeds. 

    Here's what parents should know about the case: 

    The legal definition of segregation might not be what you think. 

    Segregation is often thought of as the mandatory separation of whites and non-whites, like white and black bathrooms or lunch counters. 

    But New Jersey's Supreme Court has taken a different position, ruling in prior cases schools can be considered segregated even if it's "de facto segregation," the plaintiffs argue. 

    In other words, socioeconomics and race often go hand-in-hand in New Jersey. So, if black and Hispanic families would like to send their kids to a school with white children but can't afford to live in such a school district, they're effectively being segregated into a district such as Irvington, Plainfield or New Brunswick -- all places where fewer than 1 percent of students are white. 

    Based on legal precedent in New Jersey, that kind of segregation violates the state constitution, the suit claims. 

    White suburban kids likely wouldn't be forced to go to urban districts. 

    That's not the goal of the lawsuit, the plaintiffs said. The focus is to establish more choices for low-income minority students who are trapped in their home district -- or attending a similarly segregated charter school -- because of their ZIP code. 

    The suit aims to strike down the requirement that students must attend schools where they live and force the state to come up with solutions for getting black and Hispanic kids into integrated schools. 

    "It would not blow up the whole system," said Gary Stein, a former state Supreme Court justice who spearheaded the lawsuit. "It would simply knock down a fence that is a barrier to diversity." 

    The 25 districts with the fewest white students

    Integration could come in many ways, all likely controversial. 

    The civil rights groups don't say exactly how the state should integrate schools and instead call on the state education commissioner to make those decisions on a case-by-case basis. 

    But the lawsuit does float ideas for how to get white and non-white students under the same roof. 

    One suggestion is to follow what happened in Hartford, Connecticut, after a legal fight over desegregation in the 1990s. 

    A series of themed magnet schools were created within the city and nearby suburbs. That drew white students into new schools in Hartford and minority students to specialized schools in the suburbs, Stein said. 

    Another option is a voluntary transfer program in which suburban districts would agree to allow a certain number of students from city districts into their schools, possibly with a financial incentive to do so.

    Students from urban districts would have the opportunity to attend those schools but would not be forced. 

    The lawsuit also mentions the possibility of district consolidations, such as the forced merger of Morristown and Morris Township school districts in the 1970s after a state Supreme Court ruling. 

    That decision brought together students from largely white Morris Township and the predominantly black Morristown, a doughnut-hole city surrounded on all sides by the suburban township.

    But any of these changes would come with major questions, like how students would be bused to their new schools, who would pay for it and how much backlash will follow integration efforts. 

    This puts some major political pressure on Gov. Phil Murphy.

    Murphy, a Democrat, considers himself a champion of civil rights and often touts that he's assembled the most diverse Cabinet in state history. 

    Does he really want to be the governor who fights against school integration? 

    His administration didn't comment on the lawsuit directly, but a spokesman said Murphy "believes strongly that we must combat the deeply rooted problem of segregation."  

    The governor is sure to face political pressures from both sides, said Brigid Harrison, a political science professor at Montclair State University. 

    Sweeping changes would be expensive and politically unpopular in some circles, which complicates any potential solution to the problem, she said. 

    State Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union, has already criticized Murphy for not saying whether he will fight the lawsuit. 

    "There's only so many seats in a school system such as Westfield or Bernards  Township," Bramnick said. "Are you going to give priority to students in that hometown to go to neighborhood schools? Are you going to make sure that's a priority?"

    Just because desegregation is controversial doesn't mean it won't happen. 

    The civil rights groups behind the lawsuit have "about as good a chance as anyone could have" to win their case, said Derek Black, a professor of law at the University of South Carolina and expert in school desegregation cases. 

    "They have got an incredible set of facts, they have an incredible set of prior cases and they all point toward the fact they ought to be able to get a remedy here," Black said. "I can't imagine a better set of circumstances than in New Jersey." 

    Still, Black suspects the state will fight the lawsuit because of the enormous political pushback that would come with changing the status quo, he said. 

    He wouldn't be surprised by a settlement agreement, though, especially if Murphy feels the law and facts are against the state. 

    "If the state wants to get off easy, maybe the smart thing it could do is not fight tooth and nail but rather agree to some smaller baby steps that would be enough for the plaintiffs to say, 'We will take that,'" Black said.  

    NJ Advance Media staff writer Brent Johnson contributed to this report.

    Adam Clark may be reached at adam_clark@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on twitter at @realAdamClarkFind NJ.com on Facebook.

     
     

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    NJ.com picks all 16 public sectional semifinals and the eight non-public semifinals as a bonus.


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    Come and meet the 41 track and field teams that earned sectional title this past week.


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    The 29-year-old fled John F. Kenned Medical Center wearing only socks and hospital scrubs

    A 29-year-old patient at a New Jersey hospital attacked an employee and forced another woman to drive him to New York City before she escaped and he was arrested Friday, authorities said. 

    benson.jpgAkeem K. Benson (Edison police) 

    Akeem K. Benson, of the Bronx, New York, was charged with carjacking, aggravated assault and making terroristic threats, Edison police said in a statement on Tuesday. 

    An employee at JFK Medical Center in Edison was in Benson's room on Friday morning watching for what police described as "erratic behavior" when he tossed a cup of lukewarm tea at her, officials said. Benson then allegedly tossed the woman on the floor and punched her. 

    He fled the hospital room at 5:45 a.m. wearing green hospital scrubs and white socks, authorities said. 

    When Benson got outside the hospital, he forced a different woman leaving the facility into her Ford Focus and ordered her to drive him to his mother's home in the Bronx, authorities said.

    When they arrived in New York, Benson instructed her to stop the vehicle in an industrial neighborhood so he could relieve himself, according to police. As Benson got out and walked behind the car, the woman drove away, police said. 

    New York City police arrested Benson at his home later that morning. 

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at jeff_goldman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     


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    Highlights from the third round of states.


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