Gov. Chris Christie and state Education Commissioner David Hespe have announced the resignation of Cami Anderson as state-appointed superintendent of the Newark schools. She will be replaced by Christopher Cerf, the former state education commissioner.
On Saturday, this site published a story that top school officials in Newark are reporting that Cami Anderson will announce her resignation this week as state-appointed superintendent. One source says he expects Christopher Cerf, the former state education commissioner who hired Anderson in 2011, to be appointed interim superintendent.
A bigger shocker, however, is that the school officials and other sources expect the board to be given a role in selecting a permanent replacement for Anderson. “I’m very excited about this,” one source said. “I feel like we should be having a party.”
Members of the Newark school board, including Ariagna Perello, would neither confirm or deny the story. They said they expected an announcement in the next few days.
Some readers have questioned whether the report was based on “rumor.” Because the source for the report is in a position to know and will be revealed if the story is not accurate, I do not consider that a rumor. Perello called the report “unofficial” but said she and other board members have received the same information and said it should not be retracted.
It is a measure of the bizarre relationship between the hermit-like Anderson and the school board that the fact of her resignation remains a matter of speculation among the elected board members in Newark. More than a year ago, both Joseph Del Grosso, the president of the Newark Teachers Union, and newly-elected Mayor Ras Baraka, both predicted Anderson’s immediate resignation.
If any part of my story is untrue, I will report that immediately, reveal its source and offer the apologies my readers deserve. Right now, I stand by the story as reported–top officials of the Newark city school system are reporting Anderson has resigned and they have been told Cerf will take her place on an interim basis. The elected school board has been told it will play a role in selecting a new superintendent.
Rumors of her impending resignation have been echoing throughout the school system for the last few weeks–sparked primarily by her apparent decision to empty her office. Employees at 2 Cedar Street have said her office has been empty for days. Cerf’s departure from Amplify Insight fed the rumors.
Still, there has been no confirmation from Trenton and the last word from Gov. Chris Christie on the subject of Newark is that he is not “changing my opinion.”
In the last few days, Anderson also has caved in on significant decisions–to make both East Side High School and Weequahic High School, both iconic institutions in the city, so-called “turnaround” schools.
The sources who reported Anderson’s resignation and Cerf’s appointment say they expect a formal announcement Monday or Tuesday. The Newark school board is expected to meet Tuesday night at a regular monthly meeting. Anderson has not attended a public session of the board since January, 2014.
The breakthrough, according to sources who would not speak for the record, came in private talks between school board officials and members of the state board of education. Mark Biedron, the president of the state school board, apparently has come to Newark and initiated “conversations” with critics of Anderson.
Four members of the school board–Perello, its president; Marques Aquil-Lewis, its vice president and Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson and Donald Jackson spoke at a state school board meeting earlier this month.
“Too much has been happening for the state school board to ignore,” said one source, citing the decision by Lamont Thomas, principal of nationally known Science Park High, to resign, and the extraordinary decision by the principal of Central High School, Sharnee Brown, to accuse Anderson of breaking the law by transferring special education students to her school without adequate services.
Anderson’s intransigence also has fed a burgeoning student protest movement. On May 22, thousands of Newark students–many from schools that had not joined previous protests–walked out of their classes and marched to City Hall and then on to an entrance ramp for Route 21 that connected Newark to all major highways in the area and Newark Liberty International Airport.
The protest, while peaceful, demonstrated what the students could do–especially with the direct logistical support of Newark Mayor Ras Baraka who has consistently called for Anderson’s resignation.
Also damaging to Anderson was a series of reports developed by the Alliance for Newark schools that laid out evidence her signature school reform–the so-called “renew schools”–performed poorly.
One circumstance that might have ignited rumors about Cerf’s return to New Jersey was a disappearance of any reference to him on the corporate web-page of Amplify. EdSurge, a trade blog about educational innovation, reported that Cerf was cut from or quit the Amplify executive staff. At one point, Amplify received $2.3 million in contracts with the Newark school board.
(More to come)