- Associated Press - Thursday, February 19, 2015

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Several Newark students, camped out for a third day at school district offices in protest over school building assignments and other policy changes, gained support Thursday from the city’s mayor.

Mayor Ras Baraka joined other politicians and religious leaders in support of the students’ action and their call for Superintendent Cami Anderson to step down.

“They’re obviously frustrated about not being able to have a voice in what happens around their own education,” Baraka said at a news conference outside of school district headquarters. “As the mayor of this state’s largest city, I am also frustrated that I do not have a say-so in what is happening in the education of the children that exist and live in these communities.”

New Jersey has run Newark schools since 1995, and Baraka has said he wants New Jersey to return the district to the city’s control. Anderson’s administration and One Newark plan involving the expansion of charter schools have met skepticism from city officials and Baraka.

Spokespeople for the district and state Department of Education didn’t immediately return calls Thursday seeking comment.

Fewer than a dozen Newark Student Union members have been at the school district administrative office building, on the floor where Anderson’s office is located, since a Public Schools Advisory Board meeting Tuesday night. The students have broadcast their protest on YouTube. At least one organizer is a college student.

The district said it hand-delivered letters Wednesday to parents of six students to ask them to pick their children up. Assistant Superintendent Brad Haggerty said the district appreciates the students’ passion, but wants them to return to class.

“Despite our best efforts to work together, they have repeatedly ignored district requests to meet and engage in a constructive dialogue,” district spokeswoman Brittany Chord Parmley said in a statement Tuesday. “While we appreciate their passion, this is not the appropriate forum to engage in productive conversation.”

When asked if he thought the students should return to class, Baraka told reporters: “This is school right here. What better way to learn history than to be a part of it?”

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