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Newark Parents Call for ‘Reform Moratorium’

June 3, 2013

39 Montrose Avenue
Newark, New Jersey 07106

April 17, 2013

Cami Anderson, Superintendent
Newark Public Schools
2 Cedar Street
Newark, NJ 07102

Christopher Cerf, Commissioner of Education
NJ Department of Education
PO Box 500, Trenton, NJ 08625-0500

Re:  Newark Public School District’s Disorganization and Subsequent Perilous Impact on Our Children

Dear Ms. Anderson and Mr. Cerf:

As you know, the Secondary Parent Council is a 30 year old organization who represent the parents of the secondary students in Newark.  While we advocate for the success of all children, our reach is to ensure all secondary students graduate from Newark Public Schools, college/career-ready and as competent self-governing citizens.  Thus, we write this letter in furtherance of those goals.

The Council seeks a moratorium on moving forward for the school year 2013-2014, including, but not limited to the following:

(a)            a reduction in school budgets;

(b)            the hiring of consultants;

(c)            the closing of schools;

(d)            the hiring of any assistant superintendents, supervisors at the administrative level in the Central Office;

(e)            opening any new charter schools and additional school models until assessments/evaluations are done detailing student outcomes of the schools currently in operation;

(f)            a forensic audit of the budget including all expenditures

(g)            a  reduction of staff until an impact study is completed; and

(h)            any and all change[s] in school organization

These actions are requested because of (i) the demonstrated disruptiveness in the lives of the children and their families, (ii) the discriminatory and arbitrary actions of the Superintendent resulting in the loss of experienced, competent teaching and learning personnel, including but not limited to, educators, math/literacy coaches, department chairs, and guidance counselors, and critical non-instructional staff who support our children, (iii) the lack of transparency in providing information to parents and community about real student outcomes.

Simultaneously, we require (a) the hiring of an independent auditor to assess the impact of the above actions, (b) a stop and  cease of  the Superintendent’s hiring of non-certified, qualified administrative personnel earning six figures as her special assistants when there are identifiable, competent personnel already on staff ; i.e., chief innovation officers without any discernable job duties and responsibilities, special assistants to evaluate principal evaluations of educators, etc.

These actions operated at the expense of our children/grandchildren who lack books in the reform schools (13th Avenue, Barringer High (where books are older than the students which was reported by a student to the assistant superintendent, Brad Haggerty, at a community meeting), technology at West Side/Barringer, personal aides for special needs students, etc.  How can these children compete if there are classes with 30+ or more 2nd and 3rd graders?  How can students not be confused at 13th Avenue Elementary School when parents reported that their children have experienced six (6) substitute teachers since September 2012?

We believe the attitude reflecting a continued willingness to avoid transparency with respect to school performance, school budgets, and the district budget must cease immediately.  How does a Superintendent present a budget to the public as Ms. Anderson did last month at Central High School with items labeled  “other spending” and expect intelligent people to support and vote in favor of it.

Additionally, why was an assistant to the superintendent hired with the nebulous title of chief innovative officer to review and craft the budget.  Does this individual who was hired four (4)  months ago possess a New Jersey business certification?

What are the responsibilities and duties of the newly hired (eff Monday April 15, 2013) assistant superintendent from Dr. Beverly Hall’s administration?

Further, we request a meeting as soon as possible to discuss favorable, balanced, and effective ways to improve Newark’s public schools and the educational outcomes for our children.

Wilhelmina Holder/Laura Baker
On behalf of the Secondary Parents Council

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