NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Students are staging a sit-in at the Newark school district offices in protest of the superintendent’s leadership.
Members of the Newark Student Union have been occupying Superintendent Cami Anderson’s suite since 8:30 p.m. Tuesday and were still there as of noon Wednesday, 1010 WINS’ Rebecca Granet reported.
“We’re reclaiming territory that has been taken from us,” Kristin Towkaniuk, president of the Newark Student Union, told 1010 WINS. “We’re reclaiming this because the superintendent has taken so much away from us and this is our space.”
Like a teachers union and some parents groups, the students oppose changes in the district, including a new way to assign students to schools.
“Cami hasn’t faced her community in over a year, she keeps running, and the only way you get her to show up somewhere is to threaten subpoena power,” Towkaniuk said. “We want accountability and the only way to do that is to really have that conversation and ask why don’t you show up to board meetings? Why do you only go to joint committee meetings when you’re about to be subpoenaed? Why aren’t you facing your community?”
The group said it will stay there until Anderson meets with the members or resigns.
“We’re putting ourselves on the line here, we know the consequences but we still feel so strongly about this, we still have so much passion and energy behind this that we are willing to face the consequences,” Towkaniuk said.
The students’ chants of “Save our school,” could be seen on a YouTube channel where they are live broadcasting parts of the sit-in which comes days the decision to renew the superintendent’s contract.
Newark Public Schools spokeswoman Brittany Chord Parmley released a statement saying, “We appreciate the passion shown by these students, but the district strongly believes that this passion would be better served in the classroom. 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.”
Late Wednesday, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said he would hold a news conference Thursday to discuss the occupation. Meantime, the schools superintendent said parents of the six students who have staged a sit-in have received hand-delivered letters instructing parents to pick up their kids.
According to the students’ website, they plan to spend a second overnight at the school district offices.
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