NEWARK – Just three months after his appointment, it appears the welcome wagon for Superintendent of Schools Christopher Cerf has worn thin.
A meeting of the city’s School Advisory Board was derailed after members of the Newark Student Union and other activists staged a protest of Cerf, new charter school expansion and subpar conditions in traditional schools.
Armed with a megaphone and a large banner reading “Full Local Control”, the group of more than a dozen students marched to the front of the auditorium at University High School during a presentation on how the district plans to raise its scores on the annual state-administered QSAC evaluation.
Their chants of “”Save Our Schools” and “Whose City? Our City?” were met with a chorus of applause from much of the more than 200 people gathered at University High School, many of whom groaned and shouted angrily at Cerf and other administrators throughout the lengthy meeting.
The meeting marked the end of roughly three months of relative civility toward Cerf and a shift back toward the consistent animosity that characterized meetings under his predecessor, Cami Anderson – sparked largely by news that the KIPP network of charter schools plans to greatly expand its reach in Newark.
“We wanted to give him time to show to the community what kind of person he is, try to be diplomatic, but today I think the message our community is sending is the diplomacy is over,” Jose Leonardo, the student union’s president, said in an interview.