By Tom Moran/ The Star-Ledger

Joe Del Grosso is 65 years old now, slowed by Crohn’s disease, with a ring of thick silver hair circling a bald top.

Del Grosso
Joseph Del Grosso, President of the Newark Teachers Union/American Federation of Teachers and Cami Anderson, Superintendent of the Newark Public Schools sign a tentative agreement on a new contract. The event took place at Brick Peshine school on Oct. 18. The new agreement will go into effect June 30, 2015. Jennifer Brown/The Star-Ledger
He remembers his militant days as young man, when he began the climb that landed him at the top of the teachers union in Newark.

“I was in jail for three months,” he says.

His crime was joining a strike in 1970. But he was never caught for shooting out the car windows of the school board president, something he did over and over to vent his rage.

“I saw him later at a bar,” Del Grosso says. “And I said, ‘You’re the son of a bitch who sent me to jail.’ And he said, ‘You’re the son of a bitch who blew my windows out.’ So we decided to have a drink, us two sons of bitches. And we became friends.”

History may be repeating itself. Because after decades of battling one superintendent after another, Del Grosso last week smoked a peace pipe with Superintendent Cami Anderson by signing a groundbreaking contract that could unleash a tidal wave of reform in the city.


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