Newark Student Sit-in Heads Into Its Second Night
About a dozen activists gathered in front of Newark Public Schools’ headquarters to show support for a handful of students who have staged a sit-in at administration offices. (Naomi Nix | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com) (Naomi Nix)
NEWARK — The impasse between the Newark youth staging a sit-in at Newark Public Schools’ headquarters and the school system will reach its second straight night, activists and officials said.
While the district continues to urge students to go home and attend class, the Newark Student Union reiterated their call for superintendent Cami Anderson’s resignation
“At this point it’s non-negotiable,” Thais Marques, one of the union’s co-founders and a Rutgers student, said in a phone interview this evening. “She is incapable of engaging with students. She is incapable of engaging with the community.”
The student demonstration, which includes about six Newark Public School students, received a groundswell of support from Newark community groups who have been vocal critics of Anderson’s leadership and the school district’s controversial reforms.
Around noon a coalition of clergy and community organizations held a press conference outside the district’s central office, located at 2 Cedar Street, to criticized the school system for initially not allowing food to be brought up to the students.
The district said at the time the students could have the food if they came downstairs and got on a school bus that would take them to class.
The students refused to go downstairs and the district later allowed the food to be brought up.
Around 5 p.m. about a dozen adult activists held a demonstration in front of Newark Public Schools’ headquarters this evening to show support for the students
As they walked in a circle in front of the building, the protestors shouted “Cami Anderson’s got to go” and “Hey all my people I have a story let’s tell the whole world this is students’ territory.”
“We are gonna keep coming back and making sure the kids are ok,” said Deborah Gregory, president of the NAACP’s Newark chapter.
The sit-in started around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday during a Newark Public Schools Advisory Board business meeting when the students ascended to the 8th floor where Anderson’s and other administrators’ offices are located, said activists and board members.
The activists, which are broadcasting their sit-in through live video, contend that Anderson has not engaged with students and parents about the district’s controversial reforms.
The student group is also opposed to the district’s One Newark plan, a reform strategy that involves changing school leadership, a new enrollment system and the relocation of school communities.
But Newark public schools spokeswoman Brittany Chord Parmley said Tuesday night that the district has tried to engage and listen to the students’ concerns for the past several months.
“Despite our best efforts to work together, they have repeatedly ignored district requests to meet and engage in a constructive dialogue,” she said in a statement. “While we appreciate their passion, this is not the appropriate forum to engage in productive conversation.”