NEWARK - Newly appointed Newark School Superintendent Chris Cerf attended his first board of education meeting since assuming the position.
Cerf, the former New Jersey Department of Education commissioner, replaced controversial superintendent Cami Anderson.
This is the first Newark Board of Education meeting a superintendent has attended in nearly two years. Anderson stopped attending the meetings in January 2014. By February, parents, teachers and board members started using the public comment portion of the meeting to criticize Anderson and her "One Newark" reorganization plan.
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Superintendent Cerf came to the meeting early to speak with parents and other stakeholders in the audience.
"Mostly I'm here to begin and continue a conductive dialogue. I am on a journey to learn and don't pretend to have my arms around all the details in this billion-dollar enterprise," he said.
Overall, many of the meeting's attendees were eager to hear what Cerf had to say.
"We need to have a different approach," said board of education member Rashon Hasan. "We've done a lot of protesting in the past, and I think that's a good strategy but we have to compliment that with dialogue."
However, even with Cerf trying to change the way things are in the district, he was met with a silent protest from some students and parents. Cerf's opponents say that they do not want Newark schools to be run by the state, but by the city itself.
"I'm not overly optimistic because he was the person behind the 'One Newark' plan and he's responsible for a lot of the chaos going on in the community," said Thais Marques, a student who attended the meeting.
Cerf did take questions from the board for about an hour after making his opening statements. It did not appear that there were any major disruptions during the meeting.