Newark, NJ schools are undergoing a drastic change, called the “One Newark” plan. The reorganization plan will close several schools and convert others to charter schools, but some parents are calling foul. A parent led group says the closings and changes disproportionately affects black students.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it would investigate the reorganization.
“We can confirm that the Office for Civil Rights is investigating whether the Newark Public Schools’ enactment of the ‘One Newark’ plan at the end of the 2013-2014 school year discriminates against black students on the basis of race,” an Education Department spokesman said in a statement.
According to Reuters, the “One Newark” plan, announced at the end of last year by state-appointed Superintendent Cami Anderson, calls for the relocation and consolidation of one-quarter of all city schools.
The worst performing schools will be closed and charter schools will operate in 3 city owned facilities.
Charlotte Hitchcock, chief of staff and general counsel for Newark public schools, said the school system was cooperating with the investigation.
“We remain steadfast in our belief that the One Newark plan is not discriminatory and is, in fact, predicated on the goals of equity and excellent educational options for all of our students regardless of race, socioeconomic status or learning ability,” she said.
Parents who are against the plan says it’s just a way to privatize schools, and that instead of closing schools, they should be fixed. Parents Unified for Local School Education (PULSE) filed the complaint with both the departments of Education and Justice.