Newark teachers, students protest district’s layoff plan

By Naomi Nix/The Star-Ledger

NEWARK — About 400 Newark teachers and their supporters voiced pronounced opposition last night to the school district’s proposal to base planned layoffs of more than 1,000 teachers on classroom effectiveness rather than seniority.

Rallying just ahead of a meeting of the district’s advisory board, some said that process, if approved by state officials, would undermine long cultivated relationships among both teachers and students. Others suggested upending the longstanding “first in, last out” rule would violate state law.

“Public education is at stake,” said Patience Roberts, who has two children attending Dr. E. Alma Flagg Elementary School.

She urged parents in all Newark schools to get involved.

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Joseph Del Grosso, president of the Newark Teachers Union, said the district’s proposal bypasses due process and gives the district, and particularly Superintendent Cami Anderson, too much power.

“Teachers who have been rated effective could still lose their jobs,” he said. “If (Anderson) is granted the waiver, who would oversee (the layoffs)?”

Supporting documents released by the district suggested up to 30 percent of the district’s nearly 3,800 teachers, or about 1,140, would be laid off in the next three years.

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