Newark’s New Schools Superintendent: Interview with a Change Agent

NJTV News | September 6, 2018 | Education
Just six days into the new school year, Roger León looks to the future with confidence and conviction

After 22 years, the city of Newark is now in control of its school district. And Roger León, the first superintendent selected by the Newark school board in just as many years, is six days into his job. And he’s wasted no time signaling that he plans to shake things up — as he discussed with NJTV Senior Correspondent David Cruz.

What follows are a few samples from the complete interview.

On working with the board: “It’s my responsibility as the new superintendent of schools to compel them to assist the district moving in the direction that I see it as appropriate. In fact, many of the actions that were needed to get us started at the start of the school year have in fact been approved unanimously by the board, and I’m appreciative of them for that.”

On getting his message across: “I think that one of the responsibilities that I actually do have is to explain to everyone that cares about our city, that it is a new day, that they are assuming full 100 percent local control of the school district, and that business as usual, as it relates to not only our hires, but vendors that are working with our school district and the expectations that we have in improving our school district are not necessarily different from what anyone thought in the past, but renewed in the sense that they will be held responsible for that.”

On preserving the Newark Enrolls program: “The whole conversation about enrollment in the school district is quite interesting. In particular, we’ve never had an enrollment system before. Each individual school created its own.

On moving ahead: “This is not a different page that we are moving the Newark Board of Education and our schools in. This is in fact a new book where we are taking all of the lessons that we’ve learned and say that is actually part of the past.”

Read the full interview on NJTV News Online, a content partner of NJ Spotlight.