Three Newark principals reinstated, two reassigned to central office

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Three of the five Newark principals suspended after criticizing the “One Newark” plan have been reinstated.  H. Grady James of Hawthorne Avenue,  Tony Motley of Bragaw Avenue, and Dorothy Handfield of Belmont-Runyon will return to their jobs Monday. Two others will not be permitted to return to their schools. According to union sources, Deneen Washington of Maple Avenue and Lisa Brown of Ivy Hill School have been reassigned to the Central Office.

The suspension of the principals, 48 hours after four of them spoke at a community rally at Hopewell Baptist Church, created a national outcry against the tactics of state-appointed school superintendent Cami Anderson, the former Teach for America executive and associate of Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf who was appointed to head the Newark schools by Gov. Chris Christie. Support for the principals came from  throughout the United States.

The controversy also focused attention on Ms. Anderson’s  ”One Newark” plan that will close, transfer to charter owners, redesign or otherwise “repurpose” more than a third of Newark’s schools. The plan was announced abruptly last month and parents already have been forced to file a “universal application” indicating which school they wish to attend–so long as the school isn’t one of the neighborhood schools slated for closing.

The uproar about the plan–and the suspensions–led to the introduction of legislation that its sponsors hope will stop the Christie administration from imposing its will on Newark residents. State Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Essex) has called the plan “destructive and disruptive” and has vowed to fight it in the Legislature.

The controversy also has redefined the city’s mayoral race,  providing a major issue for Ras Baraka, also a Newark school principal, who is now leading in the polls and is championing  the opposition to “One Newark.” Rice and others have demanded all candidates declare their positions.

The fifth principal, Ms. Brown, was suspended after an altercation not involving two central office administrators–assistant superintendent Tiffany Hardrick and special assistant Gary Beidleman–and Daryn Martin, the president of the Ivy Hill PTO. According to union  sources,  Ms. Brown was found to be insubordinate, apparently for supporting Mr. Martin.

Mr. Martin, who has two children in the Ivy Hill School, was banned from entering any Newark school facility after he tried to stop Central Office executives from tearing down notices of a PTO meeting he posted at the school.

Ms. Washington was found to have encouraged parents to boycott “One Newark,” say the union sources.

No word yet on the fate of Jacqueline Bostic, the Central Office clerk who was suspended for criticizing the Newark One plan while on the phone during a break in the ladies’ room.

 

 

16 comments

  1. Jeff Ballin

    Reinstatement is not surprising since they have no case. If college students at the university of Arizona can be protected by free-speech rights after holding a racist theme party on Martin Luther King Day, certainly these principles are protected as well, but they will be made to sweat first. I understand the clerk will be reinstated. This is actually an ongoing tactic by the current administration to get as many of the higher salaried people to leave the district as possible. I don’t have exact numbers but I know many people in administration found other jobs over the summer as a result of either harassment or simply the failure to assign them, or the so-called elimination of certain positions.

  2. Source1

    Bob,z
    Good news for the 3 Principals who were returned to their schools. This clearly demonstrates that there was no basis for the suspensions in the first place. It also demonstrates the importance of having a strong organization, the City Association of Supervisors and Administrators (CASA) in this case, advocating on behalf of employees.
    As far as the remaining 2 Principals being found “guilty” (wrong term) as stated in your piece, I am sure this is not over yet. I have a sense that CASA will continue to advocate on behalf of the two Principals until all are vindicated. Congratulations to the 3, and good luck two the 2…

  3. Bruce Wayne

    So now anyone who disagrees with the plan, and speaks about it on their break in the restroom will also be punished? When did it become illegal to have a conversation the phone on your break? This is getting out of hand.. When did bullying become a must have to tactic to scare the educators into not doing what’s best for their schools and children? Is there anyone that will call out Cami Anderson on this? Or will they be punished in retellation for asking the very same question she still has no answer for.. Is this all part of your master plan to receive your bonus as per your contract requirements?

  4. Barbara Foster Abdur-Razzaq

    All principals should be reassigned and parents, community and elected officials should continue their protests until Ms.Brown from Ivy Hill and Ms.Washington from Maple Ave. are sent back to their schools; Central Office is not a solution or an option!
    To say Ms. Brown was found to be insubordinate because she supported Mr.Martin; HOW? Did she instigate the alledged altercation or put up any of the PTO agendas? When did it become a crime to post your agendas outside of the school buildings? As a former educator in the city of Newark for the past 37 years, that was a strategy we used to ensure that parents were informed about scheduled meetings, but it’s no surprise that notices don’t always get to parents by way of our children!
    As far as Ms. Bostic; spies in the bathroom on my break, one still has First Amendment rights! People do have the right to criticize the “One Newark Plan”! I trust the spy was paid handsomely for that act of desperation!

  5. Roscommon

    I went into work Wednesday at NPS , only 100 students out of over 500. Majority of staff and administration were in. It was a disgrace that our students had to come out under those conditions. Streets were a mess, sidewalks not cleared and corners horrible. After 25 years with NPS don’t you dare say I have no dedication, I have the 300 sick days to prove it.

    • Sue

      I had 7 students come in that day. I have worked 10 years and have 140 sicks days as partial proof of my dedication.

      Bob Braun: Thank you for your dedication.

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  7. Mr. Outside

    This whole circumstance isn’t anything remarkable. A similar thing happened in 2009-2010 when then NPS Superintendent Dr. Janey reprimanded then principal of Barringer, Dr. Jose Aviles by demoting him to Vice Principal at a middle school for speaking critically of Janey’s “achievements” in the press.

    What is remarkable are the details behind the procedural implementation of Anderson’s OneNewark implementation. At-a-glance, it is difficult to discern whether or not this is as nefarious as it is perceived, or whether this is just an incredible display of farce on the political stage. And this is why.

    Among the charter schools who are participating in OneNewark, schools operated by networks the likes of KIPP and Uncommon Schools are red herrings. The give-away is the fact that these schools and their mythos are sustained by their ability to exercise full autonomy in the selection, admission and enrollment of their students. Without this linchpin, these charters are subject to the same forces that affect and portray conventional public schools and their staff as failures. The relatively low number of available seats combined with high demand for admission into charters is an excellent incubator for an education crisis. OneNewark directly threatens the charter school ecosystem. Why then would so many of them sign up?

    In this case, charters operated by larger networks have an advantage. Their advantage is their enrollment system. The ones they’ve invested time and money in cultivating. KIPP and Uncommon have years of proven success behind their systems. OneNewark didn’t even launch on time. Rather than fight the machine, instead of waging a long protracted war against the conventional public competition, it’s much more beneficial to let it collapse under it’s own largesse. OneNewark’s precursor, the universal high school application for the 2013-2014 school year was not without it’s flaws. OneNewark is flawed by nature. And the charters know this. So when OneNewark fails, and it will, these charters will be forced to revert to their proven systems. The “Memorandum of Understanding” between NPS and each charter school withstanding, these charter schools either revert to their own systems for enrollment and admission or run the risk of losing their charters. They can’t operate schools without any students on the ledger.

    In this light, we can we see why and how it’s hard to look at OneNewark and be intimidated by any of Anderson’s displays of coercion. It’s not about OneNewark, Cami, or even Newark itself. It’s about a much bigger prize. Nationwide, the real race to the top in education is about developing a universal enrollment system that can serve as the platform and model for managing student information from pre-k to 12 all across the country. Standardizing enrollment and aligning student achievement to the Common Core Curriculum State Standards. Whoever delivers a working model for enrolling, transferring, and tracking students seamlessly throughout the country is sitting on the holy grail.

    It’s no wonder even with all the resources in the world, districts the likes of New York City’s Department of Education have declined pursuing a universal enrollment. New York City has declined for the same reasons Robert Treat Academy and Discovery Charter School declined to participate. No one has the.right formula to make universal enrollment work in a large urban district. Not Denver, and certainly not in Louisiana, both cities where universal enrollment is being used; albeit the latter with significantly lack luster improvements to education in Louisiana overall.

    Among the flaws in OneNewark that raise as many questions as concerns are; “How will student Enrollment data interface with the district’s current student information system, PowerSchool?” “Will data from the OneNewark application replace or overwrite Existing significant student information on PowedSchool?” and for me, my favorite question of all is “Why isn’t the universal enrollment Application simply built into PowerSchool?”

    The principal at Belmont-Runyon who was suspended for her vocal criticisms of both Anderson, and OneNewark said of Anderson, “The Devil is a lie!” an affirming euphemism spoken in the African American church tradition. I don’t know if I would agree, I would say instead she is in the details, and lack thereof.

  8. Bill Wolfe

    Repression, when exposed and resisted, always fails.

    The “administrators” are drunk with power and control.

    They need to be stopped.

    Organize, agitate, and resist.

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