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Newark school trustees decline superintendent’s offer to rescind resignation

Lots going on in Newark on Friday afternoon/night. First, the Newark Unified school board interviewed at least one candidate in closed session after 100 people crowded a Silliman Center room, urging the trustees to keep Superintendent Dave Marken. After three hours in closed session, the board announced it had declined Marken’s offer to rescind his resignation and had selected a finalist (still unnamed) to replace him, pending official approval at an Aug. 19 meeting. Later, trustee Charlie Mensinger announced he will not seek re-election in November. Busy night.

NEWARK — With a November election now set to feature three challengers against one incumbent, the school board was enveloped Friday by the campaign’s biggest issue: whether to replace a popular superintendent.

Board members — including incumbent Nancy Thomas — had a vested interest in the question. After three hours in closed session, they declined Superintendent Dave Marken’s offer to rescind his resignation, and identified a finalist who could replace him.

Also, school board member Charlie Mensinger said after the meeting that he had withdrawn his candidacy papers Friday and will not seek re-election.

“I am withdrawing due to the negative climate surrounding the election,” Mensinger said. “I feel it is better to go away quietly than to participate in something that is tearing the district apart.”

Each announcement likely will affect the election prospects of Thomas and the board challengers — Elizabeth Brazil, Tom Huynh and Christopher Wecks.

Keeping Marken on the job would improve the education prospects of Newark’s children, said a dozen speakers among 100 people who crowded into a Silliman Center room Friday. A few waved signs with scrawled messages: “We love Marken” and “You asked. He said yes!”

The special meeting had been scheduled for trustees to interview at least one candidate to replace Marken, whom many credit with lifting Newark Unified to unprecedented heights after three years on the job.

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Chris DeBenedetti