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BOARD MEETING: Black Students, Parents Experience Incidents of Racism at New Newark Global Studies High School


By: Richard L. Smith 

"It's unacceptable today, in the past and tomorrow for you to be raising an issue that adults are supposed to fix." I promise you it will be fixed". - Newark School's Superintendent Roger Leon. 

Newark High School of Global Studies, one of Newark's newest four-year public magnet high schools designed to engage its diverse student body to become innovative thinkers and become leaders in solving problems in a school with no borders has now experienced its own borders as racism, insensitivity, and a pattern of administration's alleged designed to conceal information from the public the largest New Jersey school community has learned Monday night. 

Racism, used as a tool to enhance bullying, has reared its ugly head on several occasions inside the building, black students and their parents expressed at a Newark Public School Board meeting. 

Now, Superintendent Roger Leon, who addressed one of the concerns at the board meeting, promised to get to the bottom of the complaints. 

Speaking at the board meetings and representing the school's Black Student Union, Junior David Allen expressed frustration that nothing has been done about several complaints of racism reported to Principal Nelson Ruiz and his administration.

"I love America more than any other country in the world it is because of this insist on my right to criticize and perpetuate.... when any institution is met with criticism, it is often received negatively and is often taken as an attack"- Junior David Allen   

In his speech, Allen made it clear that he does not hate Global Studies High School but said since the magnet school's inception, the school's culture has been unwelcoming to a "specific group of people." This group of people, Allen confirmed, is the African American students and staff inside the high school, which makes up less than  20 percent of the building. 

"We are begging to be taken seriously, to finally be heard, and have real change be put into place at Global Studies High School," Allen said. 

He went on to say, "no child should have to walk into a space meant for education expecting to learn only to be met with ostracism, with threats of violence and being called an N-word, a monkey and a slave." This reportedly happened during an unspecified class session.

While it appeared that the situation has been brought to the attention of Mr. Ruiz and his administration, who Allen said attempted to resolve the problems "in-house," the Board of Education has created no action plan to make real change. 

Allen's speech received a direct response from Superintendent Leon, who appeared to criticize the school's handling of the complaints and questioned how the building's administration handled the matter.

Superintendent Leon said the following immediately after Allen's speech: 

"We don't usually do a back-and-forth with the public, but we don listen to everyone who comes up to the microphone. When I was a principal, if I had just you, I would have been an even better principal. I had other students to help me become better. I know that when we address the issue at hand, you (Allen) will be one of the students who will help us". 

Superintendent Leon continued to raise concerns about the little information he knew about the situation but urged Allen that he would get more factual points expeditiously. 

Parents across Newark have expressed concerns to media outlets that multiple school leaders have chosen the pattern of concealing pertinent public information and pushed against transparency from the community. 

They said this includes information concerning physical assaults, staff misconduct and even student-to-student sexual assault at one undisclosed Central Ward high school.  

A Global Studies High School parent Brenda Brown also addressed the board last night with her concerns. She made them aware that racial tensions inside the school have been escalating as far back -this year- as September, with her son being accused of an incident by several Hispanics. She said this proved to be unfounded. 

Brown said on October 14th, her son was called a derogatory racial slur by one of his Hispanic classmates, but the school's administration never notified her.  

"The administration refuses to admit that racial discrimination exists inside Newark School of Global Studies."  

The two-years-old global studies high school opened in September 2020 with just over 100 ninth-graders and is housed in the old Barringer 9th Grade Success Academy. 

Newark Board of Education officials will review claims made at the high school.