School & District Management

N.J. State Board Reappoints Newark Schools Chief

By Rhea R. Borja — May 14, 2003 1 min read

In the final chapter of a yearlong debate, the New Jersey board of education last week reappointed Marion A. Bolden as the superintendent of the state-controlled Newark schools for a second three-year term.

The vote came after state Commissioner of Education William L. Librera recommended that the 13-member board keep Ms. Bolden at the helm of the 42,000-student district. Though her future has been fiercely debated in Newark, Ms. Bolden’s fate ultimately rested with the state board.

“I am pleased to recommend with enthusiasm Marion Bolden,” Mr. Librera said in a statement. “She is a very talented educator. We have also heard with great clarity from the community about the positive work she has accomplished to improve education.”

In making his recommendation, Mr. Librera abided by the decision of the Newark school board, which voted 7-2 on April 29 to keep Ms. Bolden. That decision, which followed the election of several new members, was a reversal of the local board’s two previous recommendations—each time by a 5-4 vote—to oust Ms. Bolden and hire David Snead, the superintendent of the 17,000-student Waterbury, Conn., schools. (“N.J. Board to Decide Newark Leader’s Fate,” March 5, 2003.)

Big Win

The votes by the earlier board outraged the many parents, students, and community members supporting Ms. Bolden, who they say is making academic progress in the low- achieving district.

The superintendent’s supporters came out in force for the April 15 school board election, voting in three pro-Bolden candidates and ushering out two anti-Bolden board members.

The “For Our Kids” ticket of incumbent board member Dana Rone and newcomers Anibal Ramos Jr. and Anthony Machado beat by a 3-1 ratio the “Home Team” ticket, led by board members James Parillo and Evelyn Williams. The new board has a six-member majority favoring Ms. Bolden.

Maryam Bey, an anti-Bolden member, said she was not surprised that Mr. Librera and the state board reappointed the superintendent.

“Her retention was based on politics,” Ms. Bey contended. "[Mr. Librera] said that he would give the recommendation of the [local] board, whether it was for or against the superintendent.

“The majority of the [previous local] board said they didn’t want Ms. Bolden. He changed because of political pressure.”

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