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Newark Public Schools renews consultancy contract with Malcolm X’s oldest daughter Attallah Shabazz

Malcolm X Shabazz High School is seen behind a house at the corner of Milford Avenue and W Bigelow Street in Newark, N.J.

The Newark Board of Education renewed a $200,000 contract with a consulting firm operated by Attallah Shabazz, the oldest daughter of slain civil rights leader Malcolm X.

José A. Alvarado Jr. for Chalkbeat

The Newark Board of Education renewed a $200,000 contract with a consulting firm to work with two city high schools, including one named after the slain civil rights leader Malcolm X. 

According to the renewal contract approved in March, the district rehired the firm Legacy Inc., “Everybody Has One,” founded and operated by Attallah Shabazz, the oldest daughter of Malcolm X, for a two-year period ending in August 2025. The initial contract, approved by board members in October 2021, also was for a two-year period and expires in October 2023.

The contract does not provide a detailed list of services offered by Shabazz and her company but says she will provide unspecified “global education enhancement consultancy.” The document points to the district’s need to hire a consultant with “an extensive global network” to provide services for the Newark School of Global Studies and Malcolm X Shabazz High Schools. 

“The overall goal for the consultant is to assist principals and [the] district with developing strategic partnerships that will enhance the content major studies in Arabic language and International Relations, and Chinese language, STEAM fields and International Business,” the contract reads.

Both high schools have attracted media attention in recent years for tensions among students and staff. This school year, racial tensions at Global Studies prompted some students to transfer out of the high school and several teachers to resign. The district launched a corrective action plan at the school earlier this year, but details about the plan have not been shared with the public. 

Last year, Shabazz High School grappled with violence, disorder, and low academic achievement. At that time, the district said reported incidents at Shabazz were investigated and addressed and steps to improve learning and safety at the school were taken. 

Nancy Deering, acting communications director for Newark Public Schools, said Shabazz’s services are “extraordinary and unspecifiable” and allow the district to make use of her organization’s “personal and professional experiences without a specific limiting definition” in the contract. Shabazz also serves as a provost for the programs at the high schools, Deering added. 

“Ambassador Shabazz supports our schools with establishing global programming,” Deering said. “She works with students and faculty to further establish relationships and exposure with international entities, and she brings individuals and opportunities that cannot be defined in a single consulting agreement.”

Shabazz did not respond to Chalkbeat Newark’s emailed questions about her work in the district.

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In the renewal resolution, which was approved during the regular board meeting in March, the district said it did not solicit bids for the consultancy services due to “extraordinary unspecifiable services,” a practice allowed under New Jersey State law.

According to the contract posted online, the board “does not have the expertise or experience for the requested global education enhancement services”. The contract also says Shabazz’s firm will “serve as a strategist and technician” to assess and direct the Newark Board of Education Strategic Plan.

In February 2020, Superintendent Roger León and Shabazz met to “strategize major new initiatives at Malcolm X Shabazz High School and the Newark School of Global Studies,” prior to Global Studies’ opening in September of that year, according to a press release on the district’s website. It is unclear what initiatives Shabazz worked on at both high schools. 

Shabazz’s company was established in the state on Sept. 8, 2020 and is based in Secaucus, according to a New Jersey Secretary of State business search. 

Legacy Inc., “Everybody Has One,” was first founded in 1999 in Charlotte, North Carolina, before being dissolved and inoperable in 2009 for failing to provide annual reports, according to company filing history provided to that state. 

The company was also registered in 2002 and 2009 in Nevada but its business license was permanently revoked after it failed to renew it causing the company to forfeit its right to do business there. According to the Nevada Secretary of State’s press office, a business enters a permanently revoked status if it fails to renew its business license after five years. 

Shabazz’s company was also registered in 2003 in Los Angeles, California, but has been inactive since 2005, according to a California Secretary of State business search.

According to Shabazz’s biography and cover letter, the former Prime Minister of Belize recognized her as a “key advisor on International Cultural Affairs & Project Development.” In 2002, he appointed her as “the Ambassador-at-Large representing the country of Belize internationally and in perpetuity.” 

Shabazz is a producer and writer with 38 years of providing keynote addresses while developing curriculums and programs for educational institutions, executive forums, diplomatic networks, penal systems, conferences, and human service organizations globally, according to her cover letter. 

She is the oldest of six daughters born to Dr. Betty Shabazz and Malcolm X Shabazz.

Jessie Gomez is a reporter for Chalkbeat Newark, covering public education in the city. Contact Jessie at jgomez@chalkbeat.org.

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