Two Newark charter schools were put on probation. Can they avoid closure?

Welcome to Chalkbeat Newark's weekly newsletter! Today, read about two Newark charter schools facing state scrutiny, a new teachers contract, and much more.

— Patrick Wall, senior reporter

The big story

Two Newark charter schools got some bad news earlier this year: the state was putting them on probation.

University Heights Charter School “has failed to maintain a high-quality education and has declined in academic achievement,” said New Jersey’s education commissioner in a letter to that school. M.E.T.S. Charter School, which also runs a school in Jersey City, faces “continued issues with safety and security,” including violent incidents and drug-related offenses, he wrote.

The commissioner sent the probation letters in May, but the education department did not make a public announcement or publish the list of schools on probation. Chalkbeat obtained the letters Friday through a public records request.

Now, the schools must make major improvements if they want to stay open. 

Both schools are due for state reviews this year. Depending on the outcome, they will either be allowed to keep operating — or will have to shut down after this school year.

Leaders of both schools have told families that improvements are underway. But it remains to be seen whether those changes will be enough to convince the state to keep the schools open.

Read the full story.

What to watch

What else is happening around Newark schools.

Newark teachers union and district reach tentative deal on new contract


  • What to know: Negotiators for the Newark Teachers Union have reached a tentative agreement with the district on a new five-year contract, replacing one that expired in June.
  • The union announced the deal Friday afternoon, but has not yet released any details.
  • The contract will determine how much teachers and other school staffers are paid, along with a host of other working conditions.
  • It will replace a four-year contract that ended in June, which ties teachers’ pay and bonuses to their job performance.
  • Union members and the Newark school board will vote on the new contract later this month.
  • In the coming days, the union will share details of the contract with its members.
  • One big question: The biggest question for teachers — and the district budget — is how much will pay increase?

Newark news & events

Local education reporting and upcoming events.

Lead crisis…

  • Newark’s mayor announced Saturday that water filters used to reduce lead levels in tap water are not working in some homes., The New York Times
  • The EPA has called on the city to start distributing bottled water. Patch, PIX11
  • The state has stepped in to help, but it’s also urging the federal government to provide assistance., TAPinto Newark

Gun violence…

  • Two teenagers were shot Friday night outside West Side High School, which hosts an after-hours program during the summer., NBC New York, RLS Media

Ivy League….

  • Jordan Thomas, the first Rhodes scholar from Newark Public Schools, will be attending both Harvard Business School and Yale Law School.

White coat…

  • Newark graduate Antoine Saint-Victor is one of nearly 200 aspiring physicians who will be attending Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. TAPinto Newark

Involved parents…

  • During the NJ Parents Summit in Newark, local elected officials encouraged parent advocates to run for public office. TAPinto Newark

Summer learning…

News from Trenton & beyond

Reporting on education issues that matter for Newark. 

Sleeping in…

  • On Friday, Gov. Murphy signed a law that requires the state to experiment with start times at five New Jersey high schools.

Special education…

  • The state education department has issued new rules intended to resolve special education disputes more quickly. NJ Spotlight

‘Disturbing’ increase…

  • The number of bias incidents has increased for the third straight year in New Jersey — including in schools and public college campuses. NJ Spotlight

Teacher pay…

  • New data shows a wide range of median salaries for teachers in different districts and charter schools across New Jersey.

Cost of education…

  • The average cost to educate each public school student in New Jersey comes out to nearly $22,000 when the range of expenses are factored in. NJ Spotlight

Benefits of preschool…

  • A new study questions whether the federally funded Head Start preschool program continues to provide long-term benefits to students. Chalkbeat

Extra credit

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