As the State Legislature negotiates renewing the bill that gives mayors power over New York’s school system, a recent report by the office of City Comptroller Bill Thompson charges that the Department of Education blocks input from public school parents.
The report, “Powerless Parents,” focuses on Community Education Councils (CECs), as well as parent-teacher-student associations. The comptroller’s staff interviewed 24 of the city’s 32 district parent councils. The report found that the department rarely consults with the parent councils on recommendations for capital plans, or to make decisions about school openings and closings—the subject of a lawsuit filed against the Department of Education and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein by the Upper East Side’s District 2 council.
“CEC officers we spoke with believe their influence has steadily diminished ever since the first group was elected in 2004, and that CECs have essentially become irrelevant,” said Thompson in a statement. “This has all occurred as a direct result of DOE decision making.”
Thompson, Bloomberg’s chief rival for mayor, lists recommendations to increase parental control, including amending state law so that parent councils receive 45 days’ notice before major changes are made to schools, and that the department releases a “semi-annual” report on parent council performance.
David Cantor, a press secretary for the department, said in a statement that Thompson’s plans would take the public school system back to an “old era” where there was no accountability.
“We have also worked closely with CECs and other parent leaders across the city to rezone school districts, open new schools and develop policies that will help students and schools to thrive,” Cantor added.
Thompson’s full report can be found on comptroller.nyc.gov.
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