The newest members of the Newark Schools Advisory Board were sworn in Tuesday with one earning a top position on the nine-member board.
Marques-Aquil Lewis, DeNiqua Matias and Dr. Rashied McCreary took their oaths of office for the three-year terms amid a cheering audience at the reorganizational meeting at George Washington Carver Elementary School. McCreary, a history teacher at Rise Academy charter school, was voted in as vice chair, with current board member Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson getting the nod as chair. Baskerville-Richardson and McCreary replace Eliana Pintor Marin and Shanique Davis-Speight, respectively.
Newark's school district, the largest in the state, has been under state control for 16 years, with the advisory board having limited authority over school matters.
"The reform work which is needed in Newark and throughout our country should not be seen as a pathway to immediate gratification. The goal here is education, not publicity," said McCreary, who edged out Ariagna Perello by 74 votes last week to earn his first term in office.
Election results, including votes from District 25, which had , and , have been certified by the city clerk and were read aloud at Tuesday's meeting.
It was a last Tuesday, with the "Children First Team," comprised of Perello, Lewis and Matias, earning two seats and McCreary, who ran with Tara Williams and Maisel Valentin, securing one for the "Education Matters Team." Lewis, the only incumbent to seek reelection, was elected to his second consecutive term.
Both teams garnered political support from Newark powerhouses like Mayor Cory Booker, who backed "Education Matters," and South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka and former Mayor Sharpe James, who both endorsed "Children First."
Following two unsuccessful runs for school board in 2010 and 2011, Matias, who thanked Baraka Tuesday for his support, told Patch last week boosting community engagement and improving transparency are among her top priorities.
"If you make people more aware of what's going on, they can advocate better on their behalf," said Matias, the assistant director of Clinton Hill Community and Early Childhood Center.
In her statement as newly elected chair, Baskerville-Richardson said the board must work collectively, in spite of political alliances, because of its responsibility to Newark children.
"We in Newark are as capable as any other community of making decisions about the education of our children," she said to roaring applause. "Therefore, we will continue the push for local control."