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Christie Names Onetime Iranian Refugee To Head Camden, NJ Schools

Mike DeNardo Mike DeNardo
Mike DeNardo, a veteran of KYW Newsradio for more than 25 years,...
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By Mike DeNardo

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — A man with a compelling life story is Gov. Christie’s pick to be the new superintendent of Camden’s state-run school system.

“I think you can tell from his personal story that this is someone who understands challenge,” the governor said today at Wilson Elementary School in Camden as he introduced Paymon Rouhanifard as his selection for superintendent.

Watch the Gov. Christie Video

Rouhanifard (roo-HAN-ih-fard), who is 32, was born in Iran, where his family was persecuted.

“The government fired my father and placed him on a do-not-hire list,” Rouhanifard recalls.  “We came home one day, all of our possessions were taken — pictures on the wall, everything.  Relatives were imprisoned and tortured, and some were executed.  We were homeless.”

They fled to America, where Rouhanifard, speaking no English, started first grade in Tennessee.

As an adult, he taught in the Bronx and most recently worked in the Newark, NJ school system.

The state last March announced it was taking over Camden schools.

With approval from the State Board of Education, Rouhanifard will take over the district that has 23 of the 26 worst-performing schools in the state.

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