Newark Advocates Urge Public To Show Up Tomorrow Morning at the Board Retreat

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Local and national education advocates are urging Newark parents and residents to attend tomorrow’s Board of Education meeting to express their discontent with the Board’s secret renewal of Superintendent Roger Leon’s contract, revealed just this week. The five-year renewal, which will retain Leon until June 30, 2028 at over $290,000 per year, was signed without the required public notice and public input.

The Board of Education retreat begins tomorrow, Saturday, January 21st at 9:00 am to noon at 765 Broad Street in the 6th Floor Board Conference Room. There is no agenda on the district website. There are also two other board meetings this week, one on Tuesday and one on Thursday.

This is on the district website regarding public comment at school board meetings:

PLEASE NOTE: Pursuant to the District’s “Rules and Procedures for Public Participation at Open Meetings, “individuals and organizations must register with the Superintendent’s Office, in writing, by 4:00 p.m. five (5) calendar days prior to the day of the meeting, giving his/her name, address, telephone number and a detailed description of the subject to be addressed.

Shennell McCloud, CEO of Project Ready told nj.com, “We are urgently looking to organize parents, families, and students to go so that we can learn more [about] how a renewal happened without the community getting any notice.”

John Abeigon, President of the Newark Teachers Union, said León had vowed to make the district more transparent when he was hired in 2019, just after Newark had regained local control of the district after a 22-year state takeover. “There was going to be a new day, contrary to how the state ran the district,” he said. “We were expecting more from the superintendent.”

Shirley Irizarry of the National Parents Union, said, “We’re seeing in New Jersey, and in Newark and across the county, school boards are making decisions that affect our students and our families without any input from the community. [Residents] should come out to those meetings and demand that there be more opportunities for parents to engage in this conversation,” she added.

When asked for comment, district spokesperson Nancy Deering insisted the renewal process was legal. “The board approved of the job that León was doing. And while we do not usually comment on performance issues, of course, there was a positive performance evaluation.”

León has come under fire for excessive travel to exotic locales (Las Vegas, New Orleans, Orlando, Atlanta, Palm Springs, Puerto Rico and Honolulu), building buying sprees, failure to remedy Newark’s chronic absenteeism problems (half of high school students miss 10% or more of school days), scheming to shut down Newark’s public charter sector, and lying about student performance. Leon declared at a School Board meeting that multiple schools were “high achieving” while, in fact, 13% of Newark students are proficient in math, 27% are proficient in reading, and 7% are proficient in science.

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