Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-Essex/Morris), Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on the Public Schools, released the following statement on Tuesday after Cami Anderson, State District Superintendent of Newark Public Schools, testified before the committee on the One Newark Plan:
“The Joint Committee on the Public Schools (JCPS) is charged by statute with the oversight of all of our state’s public schools. As co-chair, I believe that this charge is greatest today in the state takeover districts, especially in Newark due to the ongoing lack of accountability to the legislature, the community and this committee.
“The One Newark Plan has created a situation where siblings are attending different schools, creating transportation and scheduling problems for families, generating complaints from special education students and families and calling into question compliance with state and federal laws and guidelines.
“The design and implementation of the One Newark Plan was done without authentic input and engagement of the Newark community. Two years later, the Renew Schools have not improved. The transportation policy has disrupted families and lives. The tension between regular public schools and charter schools continues to grow. And special education students and English language learners are being neglected.
“State law requires that special education students receive statutorily required services to fit their needs that are fully compliant with their individual education plans and relevant statutes and guidelines.
“As a member of this committee, the Assembly Education Committee and the Assembly Higher Education Committee, I am compelled to require answers to our questions about what is happening in the Newark Public Schools and what the impact is upon teaching and learning.
“Even though Superintendent Anderson was appointed by the governor and reports to the state Department of Education, her duty and responsibility is to be accountable to the children, families and the Newark community-at-large who rely on her vision and leadership.
“As she faces a performance review this year, she is presiding over a district in which regular public schools are underperforming and facing financial instability. It is my hope that she will engage the entire Newark community, and specifically the Newark School Advisory Board, moving forward.
“We also expect that Superintendent Anderson will provide the JCPS with the requested data and the written responses she promised to make available in a timely manner.
“Ultimately, there is an expectation of a return to local control and an accompanying exit strategy to accomplish this.
“New Jersey schools are among the best in the nation and Newark students and their parents deserve schools that live up to this reputation. It is our collective obligation to put the best teachers in front of the most challenged students.”