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Union Says Newark Principals Suspended Because They Opposed District Changes

1-21-14

By Desirée Taylor
Senior Correspondent

Parents gathered outside of the Hawthorne Avenue School to express their outrage over the sudden and immediate suspension of four Newark principals last week.

“We want our principal back, this is not right what they are doing,” said parent Grace Sergio.

The suspensions followed a community meeting where speakers denounced proposed changes to the state-run school district. Among critics at the microphone were Principals H. Grady James of Hawthorne Avenue School, Tony Motley of Bragaw Avenue School, Dorothy Handfield of Belmont Runyan School and Deneen Washington of Maple Avenue School. Two days later, the district suspended all four. The National Organization of African-American Administrators expressed outrage.

“I think it’s because they spoke out against the cuts, the treatment, the unfair treatment of most of the Newark public schools principals, as compared to the transformation principals that are in the district,” said President Debbie Terrel.

“I’m not understanding why they are being suspended. Suspension is a very strong disciplinary kind of action and we don’t know what kind of policy, if any, they could have possibly violated,” said Union President Tina Taylor.

But Newark Public Schools Spokesperson Matthew Frankel denies this saying, “The characterization that the superintendent suspended four school principals for voicing their opinion is unequivocally false. It is NPS’ obligation to ensure families and students have a safe environment as well as ensure equitable access to an education.”

But it’s not just the disciplinary action taken against the principals that has angered parents. They oppose the superintendent’s plan to overhaul the district. Among the proposed changes is to close down the Hawthorne Avenue School. And make way for a charter school.

“We are very disappointed, very, very disappointed. Everybody in this school is like a family. We are all together and we are going to fight until the end because we are staying open,” said Sergio.

Making matters worse, critics say Cami Anderson hasn’t done enough outreach in the community. Anderson has denied this and says her only goal is to create schools of excellence throughout the district. The suspended principals could learn their fate as early as tomorrow when the results of the investigation could come.


  • A Hawthorne Avenue Parent

    Can you please post the raw footage from the Hawthorne rally on either your sight or YouTube? The singing protesters may very well become a viral video and bring NJTV lots of traffic!!!

  • MHarris

    Christie, Cerf and Cami: a trinity of thuggery and abuse. Bridges, traffic, storm shakedowns and the Newark 5……….more coming as peeps become empowered to speak up and out. The beginning of the beginning of the end for reformy hijacking……Empower NewarK!

  • Marc K

    Ms Anderson was
    appointed to be the Superintendent of an Alternative High School
    district in NYC by Joel Klein. Her current policies are the
    continuation of the bankrupt school-closing, charter school favoring,
    test score oriented policies of the Bloomberg administration. While
    Superintendent of Alternative High Schools in NYC MS Anderson was the
    lead supervisor of 27 alternative high schools for one year. In a
    reorganization the following year, all those principals voted to leave
    her district and her tutelage and most prospered in their new settings.
    She was left to lead 8 PROGRAMS and then applied for a waiver of
    conflict of interest so she could serve
    on the board of a proposed charter school that would serve students who
    would otherwise go to the alternative high schools. She hired as a
    chief of staff, a title unknown in education before the corporate
    takeover by Klein and Bloomberg, Vanessa Rodriquez..
    Ms
    Rodriguez did not
    have the qualifications to be a Superintendent when Ms Anderson left, so
    she was given the title of COO
    (Chief Operations Officer), another non educational administrative title
    that reflects corporate America. When additional issues surfaced about
    Ms Rodriguez”s qualifications Ms Anderson hired her to serve the Newark
    schools.as Chief Talent Officer in Newark, another non-education corporate title. Ms Anderson is clearly an administrator who values unthinking
    loyalty above the needs of her students.
    Does this sound like the cronyism and bullying tactics of the Governor’s Office?