A third of Newark’s public school teachers face layoffs. The contracts of seven employee unions, including nurses, cafeteria workers, and laborers, have expired and the administration of state superintendent Cami Anderson refuses to settle. Counselors were laid off. Public schools have been stripped of assets and allowed to crumble. Cami drove the district into a $40 million budget hole but, despite all that, she has given hefty raises to the district’s top administrators, according to a Newark Public Schools document this site obtained. Just as Gov. Chris Christie takes care of his friends, Anderson’s loyal pals, from New York, New Orleans, Teach for America, and charter schools, make big bucks in the city school administration at the expense of Newark’s school children.
Take Gabrielle Wyatt. She is the woman who was featured in the recent hoax film about how Anderson’s administration is consulting with the community. Only it wasn’t the community, but Cami’s friends and staff members who filled he chairs and were filmed being consulted.
Until last August, Wyatt was only making $75,000 a year but Cami gave her an 80 percent raise from $75,000 to $135,000 for what the Christie administration calls a “promotion—normal career progression.” Like so many of Cami’s cronies, Wyatt was imported from the New York City Department of Education, that nest of educational entrepreneurs that gave the world Christopher Cerf.
Another big winner is Aqua Stovall, whose salary as assistant superintendent goes up nearly $44,000, from $131,500 to $175,000. Stovall is one of Cami’s cronies from “New Leaders” and is part of the New Orleans crew. She was a principal of a charter school in that corporatized school district.
Stovall was a refugee from New Orleans along with Tiffany Hardrick, another assistant superintendent making $175,000 who has decided to leave town and become superintendent in Forrest City, Arkansas. The Arkansas folks apparently didn’t hear about how she gave her brother a busing contract while she was running a New Orleans charter school. Or how she had parent leader Daryn Martin jailed for defending his right to post fliers on school doors.
Then there is Brad Haggerty, who was a charter school leader in New York for “New Visions,” one of the endless number of private, non-governmental organizations that Cami surrounds herself with. His raise was $35,000, from $140,000 to $175,000. He has served as Cami’s hatchet man for negotiations.
Ruben Roberts got a job title change—from director of community relations to executive director of community relations and family engagement—and with it he received a $30,000 raise, from $115, 000 to $145,000. Roberts is Cami’s chief paid apologist—explaining why she is laying off so many teachers and refusing to obey the law requiring her to attend Newark school board meetings.
Tritia Sameniego got an $18,000 raise when she was promoted from a special assistant to deputy chief of staff—and we all know how desperately school children need deputy chiefs of staff. Sameniego comes out of Cami’s Teach for America crew and also helped found a charter school. She now makes $115,000.
Keith Barton, Mitchell Center, and Roger Leon all got $15,000 raises for their loyalty to Cami. Barton’s new-found wealth came with a transfer from special assistant to executive managing director of operations. He was the principal of Ivy Hill and his salary will go up from $126,028 t0 $141,151.
Center goes from $160,000 to $175,000 for no particular reason except that Cami thought he should get a raise. Ok, that’s not fair. He is an assistant superintendent and, more important, an old Cami friend from the New Teacher Project, New Leaders, the New York City schools and charter schools—so Cami is making sure her old friend and longtime co-privatizer is well paid.
Roger Leon’s salary goes from $160,977 to $175,000 as he becomes assistant superintendent because a school district $40 million in the red just can’t get enough assistant superintendents. He is the former principal of University High School.
Two top officials received $13,000 raises. Caleb Perkins got an adjustment from $130,000 to $143,000 and Shauwea Hamilton’s salary was raised from $129,100 to $142,100. Perkins is a pal from New York where he was director of periodic assessments and Hamilton comes from the corporate world—she worked at PSE&G.
Cami rewarded Vanessa Rodriguez for her good work suspending five outspoken principals who criticized the “One Newark” by giving her an $11,000 raise, from $162,500 to $173,875. She, of course, worked with Cami in New York’s District 79.
Valerie Wilson, the school business administrator, got a comparatively small $5,000 raise, from $184,288 to $189,817, but she is second only to Cami in salary. Cami makes $247,500 with $50,000 performance bonuses from Christie because she did so well in bankrupting the Newark schools.
Valerie Merritt got the smallest raise, from $104,751 to $107,894. She is a flack for the schools or, as one of her job descriptions calls it, outsourcing communications director.
The sizable “leadership team” raises began in the summer of 2012 and continued until a few weeks ago. The hikes given to Barton, Roberts, Rodriguez, and Hamilton were all effective in February. Rodriguez’s raise came just 14 days after she suspended five principals who had spoken out against the “One Newark” plan. Although three have been reinstated, all five have sued Anderson in federal court.
The document outlining the raises doesn’t cover a number of other members of the leadership team who make high salaries. For example, Charlotte Hitchcock, Cami’s chief of staff and general counsel, makes $175,0000, as does assistant superintendent Peter Turnamian. Lauren Katzman, the assistant superintendent for special education, makes $160,000, while Matthew Frankel, the executive director of communications makes $130,000.
Hitchcock, like so many others, is from New York where she served as deputy counsel to New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and as an aide to former New York Gov. David Paterson. Paterson appointed Hitchcock to head a panel to study the sale of public assets–like the Tappan Zee bridge–to private entrepreneurs. The Newark school administration, which sold one public school to a charter school and is turning over others to the privatized operations, must be a comfortable place for her.
Turnamian is both a Teach for America graduate and founder of the Greater Newark Charter School. Lauren Katzman, like so many of Cami’s cronies, worked with her in the New York City Department of Education. Frankel comes from New York via Montclair State.
Of the 18 highest paid administrators in Newark, 12 have ties with Cami through the various organizations she served–New York City schools, Teach for America, New Leaders, or charter schools. The nine who make $175,000 or more draw as high a salary as the governor himself, sometimes higher. The Newark school administration is to Cami Anderson what the Port Authority was to Chris Christie before Bridgegate–a publicly funded home for cronies.
Christie imposed salary caps on New Jersey school superintendents–but they don’t apply to Newark. So, while there has been a major talent drain out of New Jersey because of the caps. Newark has been a magnet for those seeking the highest possible salaries in New Jersey public education.