Newark School Board asks state board to remove Anderson

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Newark's Board of Education is asking the state Board of Education to remove Cami Anderson as state-appointed superintendent. (John O'Boyle | The Star-Ledger)

By Adam Clark | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com 

TRENTON — Rallies, protests and pleas haven't worked. So opponents of Cami Anderson are pursuing another route to oust the state-appointed superintendent of Newark Public Schools.

Newark Board of Education leaders on Wednesday submitted a petition to the state Board of Education asking it to immediately remove Anderson because of "inefficiency, incapacity or conduct unbecoming a superintendent."

The document, signed by all nine school board members, outlines 10 major grievances the board has with Anderson, including effects of her controversial One Newark Plan.

"We are tired. We are fed up," said Ariagna Perello, chair of the Newark board. "We have tried doing things on a local level, now it's time to escalate it, take it to a state level in hopes that the state Board of Education will listen."

Several Newark board members spoke Wednesday before the state board, which holds open public testimony sessions several times each year.

Mark Biedron, the state board's president, promised he would read and consider the petition.

"The board is very concerned about what is going on in Newark," Biedron said. "We are obviously listening to this and we want what everyone wants. We want it to get better."

However, Biedron said he did not know off hand what authority the board has to intervene.

The state renewed Anderson's contract earlier this year, and Education Commissioner David Hespe praised her for working tirelessly to implement positive education reforms benefitting Newark students and parents.

Anderson is less popular, though, among political leaders in Newark, where Mayor Ras Baraka, state Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex) and others have called for her removal. Some students and community members have also protested against Anderson and the Board of Education gave her a vote of no confidence in 2013.

 The petition criticizes the impact of One Newark, Anderson's management of the district's finances and her absence at Board of Education meetings, among other concerns.

In a statement, district spokeswoman Brittany Chord Parmley said Anderson has worked to implement "real reforms" in Newark schools.

"Change is hard, but we remain hopeful that together we can build and support a first class educational system in Newark that prepares our students for college and beyond," Chord Parmley said.

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