Majority of Newark board promises legal action against Cami

Newark school board members Marquis Lewis-Aquil, Donald Jackson, Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson and Ariagna Perello at Wednesday night's press conference.
Newark school board members Marquis Lewis-Aquil, Donald Jackson, Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson and Ariagna Perello at Wednesday night’s press conference. Deborah Gregory Smith, head of the Newark NAACP, looks on.

Seven of the nine members of Newark’s elected school board said they would go to court to seek the end of the city’s school reorganization plan known as “One Newark,” the dismissal of state-imposed school superintendent Cami Anderson, and the return of local control of a district seized by the state in 1995.  The board members contend Anderson has violated both school board policy and fire safety codes.

“We will not wait until they destroy Newark’s public schools, ” declared Ariagna Perello, the vice chair of the school board in a new conference on the steps of City Hall.

Four other board members–Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson, Philip Seelinger, Donald Jackson, and Marquis-Aquil Lewis–joined in the news conference. Statements in support of the board action by members DeNiqua Matias and Kahlil Rashidi were read by Perello.

Board president Rashon Hasan, viewed as an Anderson ally, and  member Rashied McCreary did not join their colleagues in condemning the superintendent and the man who appointed her,  Gov. Chris Christie. McCreary is a teacher at the KIPP charter school chain; charter schools have been major beneficiaries of the public school closing and  student dispersal plan Anderson called “One Newark.”

The board members, led by Perello, expressed increased frustration with the chaos that attended the opening of school under the “One Newark” plan earlier this month. She cited the problems at Barringer  High School where many students have not received their schedules, classrooms are overcrowded and do not have enough chairs, uncertified teachers serve as instructors, and students have been denied food at lunch or breakfast, sometimes both.

“I was there,” said the school board member, “and I saw it.” She introduced three students from Barringer who recited problems at the school. On the last possible day of the last school year, Anderson fired Barringer principal Wayne Dennis, a man she had just hired the year before, someone who was considered an Anderson loyalist.

Perello said Anderson has been lying about the conditions of the Newark schools and dismissed her claims about a peaceful opening “a fairy tale.”

Baskerville-Richardson said she believed school board policies could not be arbitrarily repealed by Anderson on her own. She distributed copies of policies requiring students to be placed in the school nearest their home.

“We, the majority of the members of the Newark Board of Education, cannot and will not act as if what is happening to our schools is normal. It is abnormal, it is perverse, it is not to be tolerated, and it must end now.”

She called on state Education Commissioner David Hespe to intervene and direct Anderson to comply with school board policies. Hespe, who had served earlier as education commissioner, was widely viewed as someone who would curb Anderson’s excesses. But, after misleading many in the city about removing Anderson–including Mayor Ras Baraka–Hespe offered Anderson a three-year contract renewal. He has done nothing to restrain her and her plan and he even showed up on the first day of school to praise her.

Board member Philip Seelinger contended the schools had been taken over “by crazy people” and called for Anderson’s ouster. Donald Jackson referred to the “One Newark” plan as “this monster that divides our community.”

Lewis pointed out that, 10 days after school began, many children still have not found places in schools. He said Anderson was operating the school system “illegally.”

Although opposition to Anderson by the school board is not new, the City Hall press conference was important for two reasons. The first was the effort to find new grounds to block “One Newark”–in this case, the policies that contravene Anderson’s plan. Baraka, a consistent critic of Anderson, could cause substantial problems if he began invoking strict compliance with fire codes in the schools.

Members of the board cited support form Baraka and noted that Lauren Wells, the mayor’s chief school policy adviser, had been “helpful” to them.

The second was the broad diversity of the groups and communities represented by the board members and other speakers. Representatives of all wards there, black and white, and it showed that opposition to Anderson was not limited to one area of the city. Unions and parent and student groups also were represented.

Baskerville-Richardson, a former school board president,  said the exact shape and timing of the legal challenge to Anderson still had not been decide but would be soon.

“We can tell you it will happen as soon as possible,” she said.

 

 

 

9 comments

  1. marin

    Unfortunately so many students are not getting an education. As an NPS teacher I can say that The schools in Newark over the past two years have failed the majority of students. That was not the case under previous superintendents. Previously schools had some supplies, and structures in place that gave students a sense of order and routine. Since Anderson has moved in the overall atmosphere in the majority of public schools has become one of fear, chaos and incompetent leadership from administrators.
    Nobody knows what they are doing… they have no experience in the field of education and are dismantling the schools on purpose.
    SO SAD on so many levels!!!

  2. Source1

    Thank you to the brave Board members for their willingness to continue the fight. And thanks to you Bob your continuing to illuminate the scam that Anderson is perpetuating.

  3. tmare

    It is quite rare to see a person hired for the express purpose of destroying an organization but this is what has happened. Cami Anderson never had any intentions of improving the public schools. The quickest route towards destruction was the chosen route. Defund and destroy is the motto.

    Bob Braun: No, it’s not unusual at all. Bain Capital–Romney’s company–would buy businesses, strip them of their resources, and then sell off what was left. Exactly what Cami is doing.

  4. DA

    Parents need to hold the board members responsible too and ensure they keep their word this time around!! Lets see how long this legal action will take; each day that is wasted a child is not educated in Newark!

  5. Mr Em

    Thank you board members for thinking of the children first.
    This has to make any real true humans sick to their stomachs…waiting for others to do their worst.
    Now is the time to stand up for the children, education, and possibly all of America.
    Children and their educations can’t be the last corporate invasion. All they do is test to fail and resell their corporately sponsored materials over and over like there was something different a researcher could find out that an educator has already done in their tenure thrice over.
    Let’s not forget these newly disguised corporate wolves in the “communities” clothing who have been bought by hedge fund managers in the guise of “non-profit”. These so-called non profit “managers” make 6 figure salaries and basically get unqualified twenty-somethings(young adults with No experience) to work for, in today’s economy, slave wages.
    The next step is to do what these Criminals do the best, make a commercial!!! MAKe a video. Something that will impact more than just local facebookers.
    We know some peooke ot there who can more Effectively help send a message. This needs to be promoted by anyone who is at stake of losing real education in America. We should be broadcasting loud and clear “children are not for sale” or for any type of corporate profit schemes,and or a commodity.
    We now have the momentum!!!
    NOW let’s GO!!!

  6. Blind Noise

    WWJD? That is, what will judges do? Christie runs a tight ship, and he can jam up their attempted day in court worse than the GWB.
    The rest of the country had better wake up. If King Christie manages to garner the Republican nomination for a 2016 Presidential run, just who do you think will be slobbering to take Arne Duncan’s job? That three-year contract renewal speaks volumes. I guarantee you that Cami has designs on Secretary of Education. Document, videotape, put it all together, Newark, Start a veritable database. All of that material just might keep Christie out of the White HOuse. The other besieged urban districts in NJ should do the same. Have it ready to roll. No one is paying much attention now, but I promise you, when people are mobilizing to keep Christie’s pompous posterior off Pennsylvania AVenue, it’ll come in mighty handy.

  7. keekee

    It’s sad to see how this Superintendent is breaking down our school system, along with our so called Governor. Its nothing but a system set up to fail our children. They’ve taken away most of the programs geared to help the children, they’re closing all of the schools, and they are without a doubt messing with people’s lively hood. Why can’t our young have a decent education in piece. We have children with no school to attend. Thats against the law. Why are they denying these babies an education? It’s so sad to see this happening to our youth. She has to go. Here’s an idea Cami, how about putting all that bonus money that you’re giving your workers with these “homemade” positions to help out the school system so that one of our children can replace you. Maybe thats what she’s scared of.

  8. keekee

    It’s sad to see how this Superintendent is breaking down our school system, along with our so called Governor. Its nothing but a system set up to fail our children. They’ve taken away most of the programs geared to help the children, they’re closing all of the schools, and they are without a doubt messing with people’s lively hood. Why can’t our young have a decent education in piece. We have children with no school to attend. Thats against the law. Why are they denying these babies an education? It’s so sad to see this happening to our youth. She has to go. Here’s an idea Cami, how about putting all that bonus money that you’re giving your workers with these “homemade” positions to help out the school system so that one of our children can replace you. Maybe thats what she’s scared of.

  9. Marquinho Gaucho

    I had to move out of Newark because of Cami. My step son was removed from his bilingual class and “immersed” into a regular class even though he had only 1 month here from Brazil. There is a special place in hell for Cami, and gov soprano and their lackeys, right in between the child molestors and Nazi war criminals. They will have to bury her in secret because I will desecrate her grave

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