The state operation of urban schools–including those in Newark–provides little occasion for humor. However, those following the state usurpation of the local franchise among the predominantly black and brown people of New Jersey’s cities might get a slight chuckle out of this provision of the state takeover law.
For those keeping score at home, the law violated by the state is 18A:7A-35.g and it reads in relevant part:
The State district superintendent shall provide in each school a mechanism for parent, teacher and community involvement. In addition, the State district superintendent shall provide for at least one public meeting in both the fall and the spring semesters to advise parents and members of the community on the activities within the district and to provide an opportunity for those parents, teachers and community members who wish to be heard. The meetings shall be at such times and places as to ensure maximum public participation.
Cami Anderson, the hermetic state-appointed school superintendent, rarely appears in public at all and has not appeared at a public meeting of the Newark school board since January of 2014, 14 months ago. Although she did appear at a few business meetings of the board, she stopped doing that more than six months ago. In any event, those meetings–where public participation is strictly limited–are not conducted in such a way, in the words of the statute, “to ensure maximum public participation.”
She clearly is in violation of the law because she has not conducted such a meeting for more than a year. State Education Commissioner David Hespe also is in violation of the law for failing to enforce it. He is, of course, a lawyer but, because he does what the governor tells him to do, no harm shall come to him:
That’s the first rule of a regime of thugs–the law doesn’t count, except when it can be misused to protect your friends and punish your enemies.
Another site contended the one year contract extensions granted to Anderson violated the law governing the award of contracts to superintendents. It cites 18A:17-15 to note that contracts given to superintendents can be no fewer than three years in duration. As a result, says the pseudonymous columnist for Politickernj, Hespe lied when he said he was giving Anderson a year-to-year contract.
Hespe, like Chris Christie andAnderson, lies often–as he did when he assured leaders of both the Newark Teachers Union and the New Jersey Education Association that he would get rid of Cami last year.
But, in this case, the law governing state-appointed school superintendents states:
“Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person so appointed shall acquire tenure nor shall the commissioner, with approval of the State board, be precluded from terminating the superintendent’s services pursuant to the terms of the superintendent’s individual contract of employment.” (18A:7A-35, et seq.)
That gives sufficient flexibility to give Anderson a three-year-contract with a provision for annual review and the commissioner’s power to terminate the contract. The real joke, of course, is that Hespe has no more intention of “terminating” Anderson’s contract than he does of enforcing the laws governing special education students, charter schools, and English language learners. Hespe is not there to ensure the laws are obeyed–he’s there to obey Chris Christie.
Consider last year’s fib–Hespe assured everyone involved he would restrain Anderson. Anderson has not been restrained. Just ask the bartender at Tiff’s. I am sure everyone at the last soiree attended by Hespe and Anderson had a great laugh.
It was just another joke on the people of Newark.
So, memorandum to Charlotte Hitchcock: The next time you walk into a student demonstration and declare the young people in violation of trespass laws, you might also note that your job as NPS counsel is, among other things, is to ensure Anderson abides by the law–and she is not doing that.
Including the law that requires her to meet at least twice a year in such a way “as to ensure maximum public participation.”
Counselor Hespe and Counselor Hitchcock: As sworn officers of the court, you know you cannot pick and choose among the laws you will ensure are enforced.