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Candidates for Newark Board of Ed tackle major issues at forum before April 25 vote

Newark Board of Education

Challengers blasted superintendent's contract renewal and battle over charter schools

Elections for the Newark Board of Education are coming up on April 25, in a little less than two weeks. The candidates took part in a forum to talk about the issues.

One important one is the city’s charter schools. Thomas Luna’s name will be on the ballot. He said Superintendent Roger Leon has been trying to stop the expansion of charter schools through lawsuits, which he called a mistake.

“Instead of taking classroom money and putting it in courtrooms, if we can save that money and invest in our classrooms and our kids, we’re gonna produce a better product of education than anybody can compete with,” he said.

Luna also said he would like to see more education funding in the hands of school principals rather than school officials higher up the food chain.

“I do not like the idea of a centrally located pot of gold because then it gets spent in ways that we don’t really know. Like right now we have some ethics violations that are causing us to pay for lawyers,” he said.

The Newark Board of Education announced in late February that it would pay the legal fees of four board members who are at the center of ethics complaints.

Another issue was the quiet renewal of Leon’s contract for another five years. Tawana Johnson-Emory says he should be out.

“The superintendent’s contract should not be renewed. When you have test scores that low, you have chronic absentees, you have special needs students not even getting evaluated or getting their services and you have a superintendent supposed to be held accountable,” she said.

Newark’s public schools have an average math proficiency score of 9% and reading proficiency score of 26%.

Janice Kirkel is a lifelong award-winning journalist who has done everything from network newscasts to national and local sports reports to business newscasts to specialized reporting and editing in technical areas of business and finance such as bankruptcy, capital structure changes and reporting on the business of the investment business.