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Long gone from Newark, Cami Anderson and Kitamba get contracts to assist Los Angeles schools

Former Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson.
Former Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson.
Governor's Office/Tim Larsen

Figures who made controversial changes to Newark’s schools are now involved with contentious reform efforts in Los Angeles.

Former Newark schools chief Cami Anderson and the Kitamba Group received nearly a third of some $3 million in consulting contracts to help design plans to reorganize the nation’s second largest school district, according to a report this week in the Los Angeles Times. The district has repeatedly fought requests to release the contracts, which use private funds to pay outside consultants to support L.A. Superintendent Austin Beutner’s policy plans.

From the story:

A $595,000 restructuring contract was also awarded to former Newark schools Supt. Cami Anderson to make services to students with disabilities cheaper and more effective.

Anderson’s tenure in Newark was marked by aggressive reforms that generated strong pushback from unions and some community groups. Kitamba was a key consultant in the Newark restructuring.

Kitamba, founded by a one-time colleague of former New Jersey schools chief Christopher Cerf, produced documents meant to ease Newark’s recent return to local control. Kitamba’s CEO, Rajeev Bajaj, was previously part of a different consultancy with Cerf that drafted plans to close several Newark schools and open charter schools.

The Los Angeles district hired Kitamba to overhaul the central bureaucracy and come up with a system for identifying and stepping in at low-performing schools, according to the story.

Anderson’s special education contract is a departure from where she has devoted her energy since leaving Newark under pressure in 2015. She launched a consultancy focused on helping schools and districts reduce suspensions and has been visiting districts to help them shift their discipline practices.

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