Newark suspending evictions as first cases of COVID-19 are diagnosed in state’s largest city

Posted Mar 15, 2020

Newark will impose a moratorium on some rent evictions following two positive cases of coronavirus diagnosed in the city, Mayor Ras Baraka announced Sunday.

“There have been many Newark residents who believed the mythology that it would not come to Newark; but it’s here,” Baraka said at a city hall press conference, as cases across the state continue to multiply.

The moratorium will apply to evictions for anyone directly or indirectly affected by a quarantine order. The city also instituted a 60-day extension on tax payments and a waiver of associated fees and the suspension of water shut-offs, Baraka said. He signed an executive order putting those changes into effect during the press conference.

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Decaying, rat-infested housing complex gets $200M renovation

Posted Mar 05, 2020

The Garden Spires apartment complex used to be a different place.

Not long ago, the two Newark residential buildings were on the brink of being uninhabitable due to unsafe and unsanitary conditions.

Roaches were hiding in the baby food sold at the first-floor supermarket. Rodents were turning up dead. Abandoned apartments were a sanctuary for old furniture, cats and squatters.

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Finally out from under state control, Newark residents must vote in large numbers | Opinion

Posted Mar 02, 2020

By Ronald Chaluisán Batlle

On April 21, 2020, Newarkers will finally have the chance to choose. The question is: will they go to the polls in large numbers so they can participate in addressing the critical issues facing the city's public education ecosystem?

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On July 12, 1995, history was made when Newark schools came under state control. On July 12, 1995, history was made when the people of Newark began their struggle to regain the right to choose their public school leadership.

Now, on April 21, 2020, Newarkers will finally have the chance to choose. The question is: will they go to the polls in large numbers so they can participate in addressing the critical issues facing the city’s public education ecosystem? Will they go out and vote, aligning their actions with the ideas present in the civics curriculum that the district is restoring to the curriculum? Or will they stay home?

Newarkers have been fighting against the idea of state control of the school system for at least 50 years and for the right to select their school leadership for 25 years.

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New Partnership Will Create More Affordable Housing in Newark’s South Ward

A look at what the project at 991-993 Bergen Street in Newark will look like.
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NEWARK, NJ  — About 70 affordable rental apartments will be created in Newark's South Ward as part of a new collaboration between RWJBarnabas Health, Pennrose, LLC, the City of Newark, and the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA), the Murphy administration announced on Monday.

“This new collaboration with RWJBarnabas Health is going to create dozens of homes for our most vulnerable residents while building upon the redevelopment that is already happening in the South Ward," said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who also serves as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and chair of the NJHMFA board.

The Hospital Partnership Subsidy Program recognizes housing as a key variable to maintain good health and the role of hospitals as anchor institutions in the community. Under the program, NJHMFA matches funding contributions from participating hospitals to provide rental apartments affordable for low- and moderate-income families, as well as apartments for special needs residents. 

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Malcolm X Shabazz High School Coach Assaulted by School Basketball Players, Police Say

NEWARK, NJ — Newark Police are investigating the aggravated assault of a school employee and coach that occurred Tuesday outside Malcolm X. Shabazz High School allegedly by members of the school's basketball team, according to Newark authorities.

“I spoke to the superintendent, principal, coaches and team,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said. “The actions of these students will not be tolerated and they don’t represent the majority of the school. The school and team have many great kids, who go on to college and do great things, and we’re proud of them."

"We support the superintendent and principal and will do whatever we can to make the rest of the year successful,” Baraka said.

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State Education Commissioner to Close Newark's M.E.T.S. Charter School

New Jersey State Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet is closing M.E.T.S. Charter School in Newark.
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NEWARK, NJ - The state Education Commissioner is closing M.E.T.S Charter School in Newark, but giving a reprieve to three other charter schools despite their lackluster student performance on standardized tests.

Education Comissioner Dr. Lawrence Repollet will renew the charters of People's Prep, University Heights and Roseville Community, according to Kyle Rosenkrans, the executive director of the New Jersey Children's Foundation.

“More than 1,000 Newark families can breathe a sigh of relief tonight," Rosenkrans said. "We applaud Commissioner Repollet for looking past the rhetoric and focusing on the individual merits of each of the four Newark charters up for renewal. We are still awaiting the details, but by renewing three and closing one, we think he made decisions that balanced the interests of Newark children and families against the urgent need for accountability for performance that all charters sign up for."

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Newark’s charter schools are succeeding. So, why isn’t the city’s superintendent supporting them?

Posted Jan 31, 2020

By Paul O’Neill

A thriving charter sector that serves roughly a third of the 55,000 students there is now a crucial part of an upswing in scores and parent satisfaction. But in December, Superintendent Roger León sent an open letter to the state education commissioner attacking charter schools, Paul O'Neill says. We should be working together, he says.

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Almost six years ago, I co- founded a non-profit organization called the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools to help families who want to exercise the same sorts of school choice opportunities for their kids with disabilities as are available to other children. Since most charter schools are independent public schools that operate outside of district control, we found that there were few coordinated efforts in the charter sector to ensure access, equity and strong academic outcomes for kids with disabilities. Across the country charter schools, authorizers and other stakeholders are communicating and collaborating, and sharing best practices, but there is still a lot more collaboration to do.

More and more, the center is finding that our work takes us beyond charter, into places where common challenges are impacting children across all public school options, including in Newark. Traditional public schools, charter schools and other sorts of alternative schools here are all part of the mix and can be strengthened by mutual supports and collaboration. We see no benefit to drawing lines that we won’t cross or building walls between charter schools and districts. But not everyone seems to view public education from this perspective. Especially lately.

Political rhetoric has ramped up as we begin a big election year. Too often we encounter an antagonistic divide between proponents and opponents of charter schools. Advocates for the traditional public school structure often call for limits to charters, or at least to for-profit charter schools (a confusing term; charters are public schools and a small percentage of them are managed by for-profit organizations that provide services to a school by contract).

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Posters are unfairly attacking Newark schools chief for calling for 4 charter schools to close: Mayor Baraka

Posted Jan 31, 2020

By Ras Baraka

First and foremost, Superintendent León has no authority to close charter schools. The decision comes from state Education Commissioner Dr. Lamont Repollet, Baraka says.

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Several years ago, when state-appointed superintendents closed more than 20 Newark Public Schools, they said it was a necessary step to strengthen our public education system.

Most city residents accepted these decisions, despite the displacement of children from neighborhood schools and added transportation stresses for their parents. I do not recall tasteless flyers portraying those school leaders as despots circulating around the city, like those aimed at current Superintendent Roger León today, attacking him over his recommendation to close four charter schools.

The posters are not only mean-spirited, but based on ignorance of actualities.

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Newark Housing Authority Plans Big Push to Fill Section 8 Leasing Program

Commissioners Brian Logan, Norman Gonzales, Alif Muhammad, Martinique Costa, Fausto Baez and Executive Director Victor Cirilo stand behind Chairman Eddie Osborne after a recent Board meeting.
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NEWARK, NJ – Due to an increase in federal funding, the Newark Housing Authority announced an "aggressive" leasing initiative that will assist over 1,100 new families in the city.

“We are excited to start off the New Year with this major announcement,” said Victor Cirilo, NHA executive director. “Our Section 8 Program is a major vehicle to assure that affordable housing is an available option to residents who need it the most.”

The Section 8 program has almost 20,000 families listed. Of that number, 14,000 qualify for the Newark preference, meaning the individual on the list either lives and/or works in the City of Newark. 

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Newark Superintendent Plans to Expel Charter School Amid Push to Expand District

PATRICK WALL, CHALKBEAT | JANUARY 27, 2020

NJ Spotlight

Newark Superintendent Roger León wants to reclaim building space as he seeks to expand the district.

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In a bid to reclaim district buildings so he can expand the school system, Newark’s superintendent wants to boot a charter school from its rented space and potentially to take back properties that his predecessor sold.

The district plans to eject People’s Prep Charter School from the public school building where it rents space, which would allow a district magnet school in that building to grow, Roger León said last month in a letter to the state. The district is also reviewing its leases with other charter schools that rent district space, a spokesperson confirmed — a move that could have other charters packing in the future.

Meanwhile, León is scrutinizing the sales of 12 school buildings that his predecessor offloaded in 2016 as a way to raise revenue. At a school board meeting last week, León suggested the district may be able to take back some of the properties if their new owners are not using them as intended. “I want people to know they were our buildings and I’m looking at what is being done with them,” he said, without explaining how the district could regain control of the properties.

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