On July 12, 1995, state officials marched into the headquarters of Newark Public Schools and escorted Superintendent Eugene Campbell out of the building along with other school officials. The move came after a Superior Court judge concluded that the state could allow the district to deteriorate for another year.
The state appointed Beverly Hall as superintendent, who became the first, but not the last, to face resistance from entrenched interests. Hall engendred the wrath of the Newark Teachers Union after laying off more than 600 teachers. She left Newark to take the superintendent’s job in Atlanta, where she was later indicted in a cheating scandal. She died in 2015 of breast cancer before her criminal cases was resolved.
Her replacement, Marion Bolden, was the longest serving state appointed superintendent. She retired in 2008. She was replaced by Clifford Janey, who remained until 2011.
In May 2011, then Gov. Chris Christie named Cami Anderson to be the state appointed superintendent. Anderson was charged with implementing a reform plan developed by then Mayor Cory Booker with the blessing of Christie and the financial backing of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The plan, known as One Newark, stirred a strong backlash as it called for shuttering neighborhood schools. School board meetings became raucous shouting matches between audience members and Anderson. Student activists staged a sit-in at the district’s headquarters to protest the plan.
Anderson received a one-year contract extension in February 2015, but four months later, she announced her resignation. One of Anderson’s legacies from One Newark remains -- a universal enrollment system that allows students to apply to nearly any school in the city, including charter schools.
Christopher Cerf, who previously served as Christie’s commissioner of education, was the last state appointed superintendent. He presided over the transition as the district began moving in earnest to local control.
In 2016, the state returned the ability to hire and fire staff to the advisory board. The following year, state Education Commissioner Kimberly Harrington recommended returning local control and in September, the state Board of Education voted to return to local control.
Under state control, the Board of Education only served in an advisory capacity with the state having veto power of all its decisions. Members were still elected to the board, and in many years, elections nevertheless drew numerous candidates.
In April 2018, voters elected Yambeli Gomez, Dawn Haynes and Asia Norton in the first school board election since local control was returned.
From the Series: Top Newark Stories of the Decade
Previous: 5. Getting the Lead Out | Next: 3. Mayor Cory Booker runs for Senate, Then President