Watch CBS News

Newark Sit-In Protest Ends As Superintendent Agrees To Meeting With Students

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A 72-hour sit-in at the office of Newark schools Superintendent Cami Anderson came to an end on Friday, after demands for the superintendent to meet with students were met.

"I'm humbled to report that after 72 hours of occupation, we are winning," said protest organizer Roberto Cabañas.

Cabañas said the protesters were winning because Anderson actually met with him as they demanded her resignation.

"She never wants to meet with anyone who she's remotely accountable to," he said.

But protesters said Anderson did not promise much – certainly not her resignation or the local control that many are calling for.

A group of Newark had spent three nights camped out at school district offices in the protest against Anderson.

High school senior Kevin Sedano said Friday morning that the eight students and two adults planned to stay there until Anderson met with them and promised to attend a community meeting next week. They had camped out at the district headquarters since Tuesday night.

Newark Sit-In Protest Ends As Superintendent Agrees To Meeting With Students

"How great it is to see the sunlight," Kristin Towkaniuk, president of the Newark Student Union, said as she left the office.

The sit-in ended with mixed results.

"We asked her one simple question: Will you attend the school advisory board meeting on the 24th and finally face the community? All we received was Cami saying she will think about it. Think about it?" Hector Maldonado said.

Newark Sit-In Protest Ends As Superintendent Agrees To Meeting With Students

Members of the Newark Student Union say they were protesting Anderson's lack of accessibility with the community, along with the upcoming standardized PARCC test students around New Jersey are required to take. Thus, they say they want Anderson to resign.

"We're reclaiming territory that has been taken from us," Towkaniuk told 1010 WINS on Wednesday. "We're reclaiming this because the superintendent has taken so much away from us and this is our space."

On Thursday, Mayor Ras Baraka joined other politicians and religious leaders in support of the students' action and their call for Anderson to step down. Baraka said the state has renewed Anderson's contract.

"They're obviously frustrated about not being able to have a voice in what happens around their own education," Baraka said at a news conference outside of school district headquarters. "As the mayor of this state's largest city, I am also frustrated that I do not have a say in what is happening in the education of the children that exist and live in these communities."

New Jersey has run Newark schools since 1995, and Baraka has said he wants New Jersey to return the district to the city's control. Anderson's administration and One Newark plan involving the expansion of charter schools have met skepticism from city officials and Baraka.

When asked if he thought the students should return to class, Baraka told reporters: "This is school right here. What better way to learn history than to be a part of it?"

The district has said they have tried to meet with the group before and that "this is not the appropriate forum to engage in productive conversation.''

The group was live broadcasting parts of the sit-in on YouTube and have been active on social media, adopting the Twitter hashtag #OccupyNPS.

Students staged a similar sit-in last year.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.