Cami Anderson, Newark’s now disgraced superintendent, was many things. Arrogant. Mendacious. Insensitive. Too willing to use Newark schools as a hiring hall for inept cronies from New York and New Orleans. But she was right about one thing–and that one thing may turn out to be the most important thing facing Newark’s neighborhood public schools. Her successor, she said, would be worse for Newark’s public schools than she was–and that’s before she even knew who her successor would be. Of course, it turned out to be her old boss and enabler, Christopher Cerf.
The state official running the Newark schools conceded at Tuesday night’s school board meeting that his predecessor–a woman he appointed–created a $63 million budget shortfall by relying on assumptions that “turned out not to be true.” Christopher Cerf, who named Cami Anderson to the Newark job four years ago, quickly added he didn’t believe she and her staff had deliberately lied about the budget or had done anything illegal.
The resignation of Cami Anderson as state-appointed Newark superintendent followed weeks of negotiations among and between top officials of the Christie Administration, the office of Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, and members of the state school board. The almost unbelievable designation of Christopher Cerf–a friend and neighbor and former business partner of the man who runs TEAM Academy charter schools in Newark– as Anderson’s successor is the price Baraka and other city officials may have paid for what they consider a far more important prize, the return of home rule to Newark after 20 years of state control. The people of Newark may find it too high a price.
The Newark school board today is formally asking the state Board of Education to immediately fire Cami Anderson, the state-appointed superintendent of Newark schools. The petition says Anderson has been “fiscally irresponsible” and has “betrayed the public trust.” The local board charges Anderson, a former campaign worker for once mayor, now U.S. Sen., Cory Booker, has made the schools in the state’s largest school district worse than they were when the state took them over 20 years ago.
Cami Anderson, the hermit superintendent of the Newark schools, exonerated herself of any wrongdoing in the illegal giveaway of thousands of dollars to an old friend and former assistant who managed to draw checks from school districts in two different states. Anderson, Gov. Chris Christie’s agent in the district, did it apparently by blaming the scam on lower-level employees no longer employed by the district.
Tiffany Hardrick, a close friend and former assistant to Cami Anderson, Chris Christie’s appointee to run the Newark schools, will get to keep an extra $12,000 she earned by working two jobs in two different states, here and in Arkansas, at the same time. At least, she will get to keep it for a while.
Members of the Newark school board Tuesday night demanded that Gov. Chris Christie and state Education Commissioner David Hespe force state-appointed school superintendent Cami Anderson to show up and publicly explain why she paid Tiffany Hardrick, a former top aide, as much as $25,000 after Hardrick left the city and began working in another state.
Cami Anderson, Gov. Chris Christie’s educational overseer in Newark, somehow managed to allow Tiffany Hardrick, an old associate, to be paid as a Newark employee even after Hardrick started working in an Arkansas school district last spring. A state audit revealed the irregularities–possibly costing New Jersey taxpayers some $25,000–but Anderson’s own friends in Trenton already have rushed to help her out.