May 22, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
Newark, NJ—Newark students staged a dramatic sit-in during the School Advisory Board meeting after schools superintendent Cami Anderson joined the meeting, prompting her and the board to end its meeting early. WATCH VIDEO OF SIT-IN
Ms. Anderson has not been participating in the school board’s public meetings because the community has been demanding for her resignation as she implements the One Newark plan that calls for expanding charter schools.
As she entered the room, students with the Newark Student Union immediately called for her again to resign. They then sat down and said they would not move until their demands are addressed.
“We will not move until we have justice,” shouted Newark Student Union President Kristin Towkaniuk.
Ms. Anderson was heckled by the members of the community who also demanded she resign.
When asked if the meeting could have been more productive, Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson, the school board’s president, said that politically the meeting was productive.
“In the sense of making it clear to people as to what this superintendent is about I think this was a very productive meeting,” said Baskerville-Richardson.
When asked if there was a missed opportunity to hear from Ms. Anderson, Ms. Towkaniuk said they heard from Ms. Anderson clearly when she reportedly disparaged Newark when she spoke in April at the Education Innovation Summit in Arizona.
“She said Newark is horrible, that it’s the craziest job in the world. We’ve heard enough, it’s time for [her] to leave Newark if it’s so bad and crazy,” said Towkaniuk.
The students were still sitting-in two hours after the board members left. Rashon Hasan, the school board’s chairman, tried to persuade the students to leave by trying to arrange a Wednesday or Thursday meeting with Ms. Anderson.
With the students and parents singing the folk song “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize,” Mr. Hasan said he and his colleagues were making arrangements to ensure the safety of the students should they decide to stay overnight. He assured that the students wouldn’t be forced to leave.
“Safety at this point and time is the number one concern for us,” said Hasan.
Follow Marc on Twitter firstname.lastname@example.org