Students Stage Sit-In at Newark Public School Board Meeting

The students, protesting a controversial school reorganization plan, forced the meeting to be adjourned early

Students staged a sit-in at a school board meeting in Newark Tuesday, spending the night huddled in a meeting room and demanding the resignation of the superintendent over major changes planned for New Jersey's largest school district.

The high schoolers, part of a group called Newark Student Union, came into the Newark Public Schools Advisory Board meeting Tuesday evening to protest superintendent Cami Anderson’s One Newark reorganization plan, which would close some schools in favor of charter schools. The protest forced the meeting to be adjourned early, according to published reports and the group’s Facebook page.

According to The Star-Ledger, the students and about 60 others staged a protest outside the district building before the meeting, with protesters marching in a circle and chanting, “Hey hey, ho ho, Cami Anderson has to go.”

When the board meeting began at 5:30 p.m., students sat on the floor in the front of the room, demanding Anderson's resignation and a stop to One Newark.

“We will not move until we have justice,” Newark Student Union President Kristin Towcaniuk said.

Board members tried to continue, but had to adjourn the meeting at about 5:50 p.m., the Star-Ledger reports.

The students continued their sit-in after Anderson and board members left. Newark Mayor-elect Ras Baraka, who does not support One Newark, visited the students during their protest. The students spent the night in the meeting room. 

Some community activists have decried the reorganization measure and, along with Baraka, presented an alternative called Newark Promise. Protesters say that plan will keep more schools open and fully funded and would return control of Newark’s education system to the city from the state.

“Not only did we elect Ras Baraka to lead our city and our fight against the attack on public schools, but we developed an alternative plan that will better serve the needs of students, parents, teachers and the future of Newark,” Towcaniuk said before the sit-in. 

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