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Newark Schools Superintendent Addresses Complaints Of ‘One Newark’ Program

Parents wait in line to enroll their children in school in Newark on Aug. 22, 2014. (credit: CBS 2)

Parents wait in line to enroll their children in school in Newark on Aug. 22, 2014. (credit: CBS 2)

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NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – This week, the controversial One Newark school program becomes reality even as some parents plan to boycott the first day of school.

WCBS 880’s Jim Smith sat down for a one-on-one with Superintendent Cami Anderson responding to complaints.

Anderson said much of the criticism goes back to the root cause, which the One Newark plan seeks to remedy.

Newark Schools Superintendent Addresses Complaints Of ‘One Newark’ Program

school Newark Schools Superintendent Addresses Complaints Of ‘One Newark’ Program
Jim Smith reports

“Only one in four seats in Newark are highly desired by families. Only a quarter of our seats are over chosen,” she said.

So when those seats fill up quickly, parents are faced with tough choices.

“And that frustration, I understand completely,” she said.

Anderson says the complaints this year of students being assigned across town or siblings being split up are not new.

“It’s a challenge that predates this current enrollment system,” she said.

She says the centralized enrollment center that made headlines with crowds and long lines quickly recovered and has helped 2,500 families.

(credit: Roger Stern/1010 WINS)

Newark parents leave school enrollment on August 22, 2014. The new process, part of the “One Newark” program has drawn criticism after parents complained of waiting in long lines and their children being put in undesirable schools. (credit: Roger Stern/1010 WINS)

“It’s frustrating,” parent Melissa McLean told CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang on enrollment day. “It’s aggravating. Instead of making it easier, it’s more complicated.”

Hundreds of other parents in Newark waited in line for hours to register their children for school.

Mayor Ras Baraka said it is “outrageous that hundreds of Newark families are having difficulties registering their children for school.”

“For 22 years in the Newark Public School District, I have never seen the registration process this crazy,” he said in August. “If this is any indication of the first day of school, I think we’re in bad shape.”

Anderson says the long-term goal of One Newark is to increase the number of desirable schools.

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