NEWARK – The protest begun on Tuesday night by students protesting the leadership of Newark Schools Superintendent Cami Anderson continued into Wednesday as union officials offered their support for the ongoing protest.
The sit-in protest, organized by the Newark Student Union and assisted by New Jersey Communities United, occupied the eighth floor of the Newark Public Schools headquarters at Cedar Street in downtown Newark on Tuesday night. There are nine students and two community organizers continuing to protest as of Wednesday afternoon, according to protest organizers.
Kristin Towkaniuk, president of the Newark Students Union, spoke to PolitickerNJ by phone from the eighth floor of the Newark Public Schools headquarters, where the offices of Anderson and other administrators are located.
“Our demands are Cami Anderson’s immediate removal,” said Towkaniuk, noting that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie appointed Anderson to head the Newark school district in 2011. “We want some accountability. Her contract will be up for review, and we want her to face the community.”
“We appreciate the passion shown by these students, but the district strongly believes that this passion would be better served in the classroom,” responded Newark Public Schools spokesperson Brittany Chord Parmley in a written statement on Wednesday. “NPS has reached out to their parents in an effort to get this group of students to school this morning, and we remain open to engaging in a constructive dialogue that does not compromise valuable learning time.”
A representative of the Newark Teachers Union offered support for the student protest, one of many in recent months in response to Anderson’s leadership of New Jersey’s largest school district and her implementation of the controversial One Newark school reorganization plan.
“We stand 100 percent with the students who have occupied the Newark Public School office at 2 Cedar Street,” said John Abeigon, director of organization for the Newark Teachers Union i(NTU) in a written statement on Wednesday. “Our founding fathers, whose collective birthdays we just celebrated, would have respected this civil action. These students believe that they have exhausted all remedies.
“The NTU believes that there may still be a federal remedy and are heading to D.C. next week with a coalition of state elected leaders, NAACP, and our legal partners the Education Law Center,” Abeigon added.