Newark, NJ–The Newark Board of Education voted Tuesday extend an offer to Roger León as the next superintendent of Newark Public Schools.
León was selected unanimously during a vote during at a regular school board meeting held at Speedway Academies on South Orange Avenue. The audience cheered as the vote took place. If Leon accepts the offer he will be the first superintendent to be named to the district since regaining local control after 22 years under state control.
The four superintendent finalists included two Newark natives: Leon and interim Newark Superintendent Robert Gregory.
León, assistant superintendent in Newark, was born and raised and continues to live in Newark. He has worked in NPS for 25 years.
School Board Chairperson Josephine Garcia told TAPInto Newark that the board felt confident about Leon’s experience within the district. She noted that Leon had taught her son.
“We look forward to working with the new superintendent,” said Garcia. “We feel like we will have a good working relationship with moving our schools forward.”
The new superintendent will start July 1 and contract negotiations need to wrap up by May 31, Garcia said.
“After 22 years under state control this is a new day,” Garcia said.
During the public comments portion Tuesday night, a few residents complained about the lack of a question and answer period on Friday when the four superintendent finalists presented their ideas for Newark Public Schools.
Deborah Smith Gregory, who said she is a member of the NAACP, said the community is frustrated that there is not more local input now that the city’s schools are returning to local control. She said the lack of a question and answer period on Friday, “builds this type of frustration from the community.”
According to Vice Chairperson Dawn Haynes, there was initially supposed to be a survey or planned Q&A for members of the community but for some reason the company acting as the search committee (Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates or HYA) did not do it.
There were also two outside candidates considered for the position. Sito Narcisse, who serves as the chief of schools for Metro Nashville Public Schools in Tennessee, and Andres Alonso, who graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia University, and earned a law degree and a doctorate in education from Harvard University.
León, who was born and raised in Newark and continues to reside in the city, has worked for the district for the last 25 years.
He attended Hawkins Street School from kindergarten to eighth grade and graduated from Science High School. He earned his bachelor's degree in biological sciences from Rutgers University. For three years, he taught fifth grade at Hawkins Street School and was the head coach of the Science High School debate team for eight years, which won local, state, and national championships.
León taught Algebra I to eighth graders for high school credit and provided professional development in mathematics to Newark teachers across the district.
León earned his master's degree in administration and supervision from Montclair State University and subsequently served as a turnaround principal in Newark for 10 years. Leon was the principal of Dr. William H. Horton School for four years and University High School of the Humanities for six years.
León has served as the assistant superintendent in the Newark Public Schools for 10 years, supervising the school leadership team of the high schools and a network of elementary schools. He served as the deputy chief academic officer in charge of curriculum, instruction and student support services, and directed administration responsibilities district-wide.