Guest blogger James Calantjis (
In Dec. 1996 (renewed in 2003), State law mandated that School Leadership Teams be formed in all schools to develop Comprehensive Educational Plans (CEP) and school budgets through a shared decision making process. Parents were to make up 50% of the Team by law, with the balance including teachers, administrators and others. The principal, Parent Association President and UFT Chapter Leader were to be core members.
The problem was that the NYCDOE shut out Teams from any decision making concerning the development of the school’s budget, violating State Education Law. My complaints to NYCDOE went nowhere. Their agenda was to empower principals and neutralize parent and teacher involvement.
I then turned to the NYS Office of School Improvement and Community Services (SICS-NYC) under Associate Commissioner Shelia Evans-Tranumn. This State agency regulates Commissioner’s Regulation 100.11 concerning shared decision making, which is incorporated into the SLT law. It also investigates Title 1 complaints through a formal procedure required by the Federal government.
Federal law requires “substantial parental involvement” with Title 1 programs and funds. In all Title 1 schools and districts, parents are suppose to be consulted by school leadership teams in the spending of Title 1 funds and the planning of programs, especially in the 1% of these funds that are suppose to be used for parent involvement activities. School Leadership Teams then incorporate the programs and spending into the Comprehensive Educational Plan.
The State continued to refer these complaints to NYCDOE without any resolution. Numerous e-mails were sent to Ms. Norfleet and Ms. Tranumn that were mostly ignored. Commissioner Mills was copied on all e-mails.
In frustration, I contacted the Federal Office that supervised the NYC area for Title 1 to try to force NYSED to respond and follow the formal complaint procedure required. While this action forced them to respond again, the complaint procedure was never followed.
During the last four years, I have received letters and e-mails from NYCDOE and NYSED thanking me for my concerns but void of substance, leaving the issues unresolved.
What have I learned? I learned that the deck is stacked against parents and others who make complaints to the State concerning the NYCDOE.
--- James Calantjis
See this earlier post about the complaint, Pollicino v. Klein, filed by Marie Pollicino, a Queens parent to the NY State Education Dept. about the Chancellor's unlawful attempt to eviscerate the authority of School Leadership Teams. This complaint was subsequently joined by the United Federation of Teachers. See the UFT's brief, as well as an affidavit from Amina Rachman, special assistant to the the UFT President, Randi Weingarten, that includes a letter from Randi to the Chancellor about the improper process used to revise the regs concerning SLTs, and the illegal result.