Newark school chief grilled by NJ lawmakers

 Newark Schools Superintendent Cami Anderson appears before a New Jersey legislative panel. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Newark Schools Superintendent Cami Anderson appears before a New Jersey legislative panel. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

New Jersey lawmakers peppered Newark Schools Superintendent Cami Anderson with questions about her record during her first appearance before the Legislature’s joint committee on public schools.

Assemblyman Ralph Caputo told the state-appointed leader of New Jersey’s largest school district that there’s big difference between her intent to improve Newark schools and what’s actually happened.

“I have never seen such discontent in over 30 years, with the parents, the educational process, being so disrupted,” said Caputo, D-Essex.

But Anderson said many in the Newark education community are extremely satisfied with her reorganization efforts.

“I am, on a weekly basis, in schools with teachers, with families,” she said. “And for every person that communicates their frustration is someone who hugs me and says thank you.”

Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver told Anderson that she’s encountering difficulties with her leadership because the superintendent has adopted an attitude of acting like “the sharpest tool in the shed” and is refusing to deal with public criticism.

Anderson’s “One Newark” plan to improve schools in New Jersey’s largest city has engendered criticism from several quarters.

“The One Newark plan has created a situation where siblings are attending different schools, creating transportation and scheduling problems for families, generated complaints from special education students and families and called into question compliance with state and federal laws and guidelines,” said Assemblywoman Mila Jasey.

Jacey told Anderson she has failed to engage the Newark community in developing the plan.

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