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Playgrounds Double As Teacher Parking Lots In Some Newark Schools

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Imagine cars parked in the middle of your child's playground.

As CBS 2's Christine Sloan reported, that is exactly what is happening at some schools in Newark.

At the Lafayette Street Elementary School in the Ironbound section of Newark, CBS 2 found students running around between parked cars – some of them even leaning against them during recess.

Believe it or not, the reason is that the children are sharing their playground with their teachers' cars.

The same crammed problem was seen at the Oliver School just blocks away.

"It's not fair for the kids, because they're supposed to play, well, 20 minutes; half an hour. They can't because they can't run around and play," said parent Paulina Furtado.

"No, this is not right," another parent said.

The cars are secure, but there have been questions about whether the children safe. CBS 2 did notice teachers keeping them away from the cars.

"I mean, if they park in there and they have the kids out there, they already know what they're set up for," said parent Xaymara Bernard.

The president of the Newark Teachers Union claimed most parents would rather have their kids share the playground with their teachers' cars than give up their own parking spots on the street – because parking is a problem in the neighborhood.

The union president also said there are no garages nearby.

But Newark Councilman Augusto Amador called the excuses ridiculous, saying that teachers just do not want to be inconvenienced.

"The playground was built primarily for kids, and only for kids," said Amador, who represents the East Ward.

Amador helped get an ordinance passed that forbids teachers from parking in some playgrounds. He is so mad now that he said he is amending it to apply to all schools.

The deal allows teachers to get residential permits and other privileges.

"I worked very hard to get an agreement from a local owner of a garage for them to park at a reduced cost," Amador said.

Many of the kids on the parking lot-cum-playground did not seem to care.

"Sometimes they say you can play outside, and it doesn't bother us – everyone to the cars," said Edwin Luna, 8.

Newark Superintendent of Schools Cami Anderson said she is working with the Newark City Council, and the teachers will have to move their cars from the Lafayette playground next month.

"October 6 is the day we are going to begin work on Lafayette playground to renovate it, bring it back, and give it back to the kids," Anderson said, "and we're excited about that."

After that, Anderson plans on moving to the Oliver School to give the playground there back to the kids.

When asked if the district could build parking lots for teachers as many suburban schools have, the superintendent said there is not enough space or money in the budget.

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