JERSEY CITY – The Jersey City chapter of the Statewide Education Organizing Committee (SEOC) plans to stage a rally outside the Board of Education office on Monday morning to protest a superintendent search process that has left a popular candidate out of the running.
The rally will take place Monday, June 4 at 9 a.m. at 346 Claremont Ave.
On Friday, the Board of Education officially announced the names of two candidates – Dr. Debra Braithwaite and Dr. Marcia Lyles – who have been selected as finalists to replace former School Superintendent Dr. Charles Epps. The short list of finalists, however, excludes Franklin Walker, the current acting superintendent of schools and a popular administrator with a long track record in the local school system.
Acting Superintendent Walker applied for the permanent position. How far he made it in the search process is not, however, publicly known.
Walker’s exclusion from the list of finalists has angered his backers, many of whom expressed support for his candidacy during a series of eight community meetings the Board of Education held on the superintendent search process.
At two of these meetings that were covered by the Reporter, several parents praised Walker’s leadership and said his candidacy for the permanent superintendent position should be given serious consideration. Parents also said they felt comfortable with Walker at the helm of the school system since he has already worked in the district, has experience with an urban school system, and is a Jersey City resident. Some parents said an out-of-state candidate would take more time to get up to speed and get adjusted to the Jersey City Public School District.
Braithwaite and Lyles were among several candidates who applied for the position, although a spokeswoman for the school board did not know how many candidates applied in total.
Braithwaite, according to her bio, previously served five years as deputy superintendent of the Dayton, Ohio, school district, a system that had about 16,000 students. She was an assistant superintendent in Cleveland for two years. She also worked in the New York City public school system for 26 years, where she taught at the sixth and seventh grade level and was an elementary school principal. While in New York, Braithwaite also worked as a deputy superintendent for curricular development.
Lyles, the second finalist, is already working as a school superintendent. Lyles, according to the bio supplied by the Board of Education, is currently in her third year as superintendent for the Christina School District in Delaware, which has about 17,000 students. Like Braithwaite, Lyles also has experience in the New York City school system, where she worked for 37 years. While in New York, Lyles worked as a deputy chancellor for teaching and learning, was a regional superintendent, and a community superintendent of a K-8 district. She was also a high school principal and taught English at the high school level for a decade. – E. Assata Wright