Newark school board will be graded on its first year back in control of district

Welcome to Chalkbeat Newark's weekly newsletter! Today, news about the district’s forthcoming report card, a critical hiring audit, and more.

— Patrick Wall, senior reporter

The big story

It’s about to be report card day for Newark’s Board of Education.

In the coming days, the board will receive its first progress report since regaining conditional control of the district last February when the state ended its decades-long takeover of the city’s schools.

The report will help determine whether the board regains lasting control over the district, or whether the state extends the district’s transition back to local control, which is currently slated to end in January 2020.

The report, by independent evaluators at Rutgers University, will assess the board’s adherence to ethics rules and the district’s budgeting practices, among other considerations. It is due by the end of the month.

Earlier this month, the district’s state monitor assured the board that she expects it to receive a “glowing report.”

Read the full story here.

What to watch

What else is happening around Newark schools.

State audit faults Newark Public Schools for its hiring practices in 2016-17

  • What to know: Newark Public Schools failed to establish proper procedures for recruiting and hiring employees, according to a state audit of district practices during the 2016-17 school year.
  • The audit looked at a random sample of 10 employees out of about 1,100 who were hired from July 2016 to October 2017.
  • The auditors found that the district’s central office did not properly monitor the hiring process, which varied from school to school, and that required documentation was missing.
  • District officials summarized the audit at a school board meeting this month, but have not yet released the full audit. Chalkbeat has requested it.
  • The district must now create a “corrective action plan” to address the issues cited in the audit.
  • Superintendent Roger León noted at the board meeting that the audit covered practices before he started in July.
  • He said his administration is complying with all state hiring rules: “I’m confident that we’re in a good space.”
  • One big question: How will the district ensure that its hiring practices don’t get dinged again?

Newark news & events

Local education reporting and upcoming events.

“Trauma’s Tragedy”…

  • A five-part video series explores the long-lasting effects of childhood trauma and how various Newark groups, including some schools, are responding to it. NJTV

Tech training…

Real-world experience…

  • People’s Prep High School, a Newark charter school, is partnering with a growing number of organizations that host its students as interns. TAPinto Newark

Water treatment…

  • A new program will teach Newark students about water treatment — even as the city deals with a water-quality crisis. TAPinto Newark

MLK Day…

  • Students at Camden Street School honored Martin Luther King Jr. with a day of service, performance, and remembrance for classmate who was recently killed. Newark Public Schools

News from Trenton & beyond

Reporting on statewide education issues that matter for Newark.

Diploma confusion…

  • The state education department filed a motion in court this month asking for clarification about the requirements that this year’s seniors must meet in order to graduate from high school, following an appellate court ruling that invalidated the state’s exit exams. NJ Spotlight

Sensitivity training…

  • A state lawmaker is calling for mandatory sensitivity training for every high school coach and athletic director in New Jersey.

Studies say…

  • A new study suggests that concerns about the adverse consequences of more academically rigorous kindergarten classes may be overblown. Chalkbeat
  • Another study found that teachers are more enthusiastic about new district initiatives if they get to help design them. Chalkbeat

Extra credit

Want to showcase your school or an upcoming education event? Send me photos and details.

East Ward Councilman Augusto Amador recently announced a $313,000 grant to help East Side High School renovate and upgrade the school’s library/academic center.