Newark schools chief to teacher union head: Don’t need you.

An email exchange between Christopher Cerf, the state-appointed Newark schools chief, and John Abeigon, the president of the Newark Teachers Union. Abeigon’s email is at the bottom–it was sent to city officials, local  school board members, state school board members, the mayor’s office and others. Abeigon offers his congratulations on the return of local control and asks for a role in the transition.

(Editorial note: Abeigon sent me the exchange so I don’t know whether all recipients and senders are listed. My emphasis added.)

Five hours after Abeigon sent his note, Cerf responds like this:

 From: “Cerf, Christopher” <> Date: Oct 4, 2017 8:53 PM Subject: Re: Congratulations & Request to Serve To: “John Abeigon” <> Cc: “Randi Weingarten” <>, “Lewis, Marques-Aquil” <>

  Not happening in this or any lifetime.

Sent from my iPhone

On Oct 4, 2017, at 3:56 PM, John Abeigon <> wrote:

From: John Abeigon [] Sent: Friday, September 15, 2017 10:47 AM To: ( <>; Crystal C. Fonseca <>; Dashay Carter <>; Kim Gaddy <>; Marques-Aquil Lewis ( <>‘ <>; ‘Donna M Chiera’ <>; SenRuiz ( <>; Sen Ron Rice ( <>; Michael Maillaro <>; ‘Michael Iovino’ <>; ‘‘ <>; ‘Eugene’ <> Subject: Congratulations & Request to Serve


Marques-Aquil Lewis

Board Chairperson

Newark Board of Education


Dear Mr. Lewis:


Congratulations on receiving full local control back to the Newark Board of Education.


As the elected representatives of all the NBOE’s highly skilled professional instructional workforce, paraprofessionals, Child Study Team members and various therapists servicing students, the NTU respectfully requests we be included in any plan, and be seated on any committee established by the NBOE to develop a full transition plan for the return to local control of the district pursuant to NJAC Title 6A.


As we have throughout the takeover, we remain at your service and the service of the needs of Newark’s students, their parents and community.





John M Abeigon

President & Director of Organization

Newark Teachers Union, Local 481, AFT, AFL-CIO

  1. Cerf is to be commended for the clarity of his message.

  2. What goes around comes around. Cerf’s future aspirations could be affected by having 3,000+ employees who could be vocal re his time in office. Lead in school water, etc.
    But maybe he’ll look to work for a Jeb Bush group.

  3. It is very unfortunate that Mr. Cerf doesn’t want to work with Mr. Abeigon. This is a continuation of the hostility towards members of education associations in New Jersey. I am hopeful that, with Mr. Murphy as Governor, the administrations of schools and the elected leaders of the education associations, will work together for the benefit of the students.

  4. Is there any surprise in this? The NTU has not sat a many of these tables over the years – by choice or not don’t know. But after the court decisions in favor of NTU and the acrimony, I don’t see Cerf having an epiphany and suddenly welcoming them. That said, any path that has integrity towards local control must include all stakeholders and a union must be included.

  5. See former NPS principal Mary G Bennett’s Oct 26 NJ Spotlight OpEd: Returning to Local Control–What Does Newark Need to Know?

  6. Re Wilson Ave School post Nov 1 on Facebook: Why aren’t parents & teachers calling NJ Dept of Ed & State Board Ed members while it is still under state control? If one checks the biographies of state BoE members, it’s often possible to learn where to contact them during workday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.