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Gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy’s Charter School opposition at odds with his adviser

By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy on Sunday declared himself “dead set” against the Princeton Charter School adding more students, in a position putting him at odds with a top campaign adviser who is head of the school’s board of trustees., In town for a Princeton Community Democratic Organization forum with three other candidates, he waded into a local issue that has stoked passions on both sides. In giving his answer, he never mentioned that Paul Josephson, the president of the Charter’s board, serves as counsel to his campaign. Josephson, a lawyer with Duane Morris, is a leading figure in state politics, having worked for the likes of former Gov. James E. McGreevey among others., “I don’t live here,” Murphy said in a response to a moderator’s question, “but based on what I know, I’m dead set against the expansion of the Princeton Charter.”, The K-8 school, home to 340 pupils, is seeking to add 76 more students. A decision by state Department of Education acting Commissioner Kim Harrington is pending. Critics from the school district and others are trying to block the plan., “It doesn’t have local support as far as I can tell,” Murphy said, “and without local support I don’t think there’s a rationale to pursue it.”, Josephson declined to respond to Murphy’s comments. “I’m going to have no comment,” he said Tuesday., But Murphy’s position was greeted with open arms by the Princeton Board of Education, which is fighting an expansion proposal that would cost the district an extra $1.16 million a year., “We believe that charter expansion in a high performing district like Princeton is ill-advised and unnecessary,”school board President Patrick Sullivan said Wednesday. “And so we, as a board, believe that. And any candidate who believes that too, we welcome that position.”, The Murphy campaign did not respond to a request for comment this week., Mayor Liz Lempert, a critic of the Charter School proposal and founder of a group critical of charter schools, has endorsed Murphy for governor. She said Sunday she believes he is “strong on public education” and the need for local control.

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