Thursday, April 11, 2019

Public school parents and advocates relieved that their family’s information will no longer be used to help charters market their schools

Though DOE told parents they had decided to stop this practice of giving charter schools access to student information to help them market and recruit students, the DOE spokesperson said this morning that this decision was "tabled".   For more on what the Chancellor said today about this issue at a CPAC meeting,  see our blog here.

For immediate release: April 11, 2019
For more information contact: Leonie Haimson, 917-435-9329;

Public school parents and advocates relieved that their family’s information will no longer be used to help charters market their schools

This morning, parents and advocates thanked the Mayor and Chancellor for finally reversing the long-standing practice of allowing charter schools to access their family’s information for mailings sent to their homes for marketing and recruiting purposes.

Said Johanna Garcia, public school parent and President of Community Education Council in District 6 in Upper Manhattan:  “It is unconscionable that this practice has gone on as long as it has.  For more than a decade, parents and advocates have complained about the privacy violations incurred by DOE allowing charters to access our children’s personal information without our consent; I filed a  FERPA complaint to the US Department of Education about this practice in November 2017.  Moreover, I am not aware of another school district in the country that voluntarily makes this information available to charter schools to help them boost their enrollment, diverting students and funding from our public schools.  “

Nequan McLean, co- chair of the Education Council Consortium and the President of Community Education Council in District 16 Brooklyn said: “The DOE never had our permission in the first place to allow charter schools to access this personal information. As a result,  I along with other parents. have been routinely inundated with two or three charter mailings a week, and our district has been overrun by charter schools.  These charter schools are allowed to flood black and brown communities with their promotional materials, often full of exaggerations and lies, that the public schools cannot afford.” 

Shino Tanikawa, the co-chair of the ECC and a member of NYC Kids PAC, said, “For years, DOE has ignored parents’ complaints about this practice, which started in 2006, when Joel Klein agreed to help Success Academy charter schools expand their “market share” as Eva Moskowitz put it in an email.  The result is that this year, more than two billion dollars has been diverted from our public schools, leaving our schools with less space and less funding for our neediest students.” 

Leonie Haimson, co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, pointed out: “In Chicago, after student information was disclosed to Noble charter schools without parent consent, resulting in parents receiving postcards urging them to enroll their children in their schools, this sparked a huge controversy and led to an investigation by the city’s Inspector General.  As a result, the Chicago staffer who released the information to Noble was fired and the district apologized to parents in mailings paid for by Noble.  And this occurred in a city where the Mayor controls the schools and is charter-friendly. Right now, Nashville school district is defying a state law requiring districts to make parent contact information available to charter schools, and last week appealed a court order to do so.  NY State has no such law, and in fact, the New York state student privacy law Education 2D bars the use of student data for marketing purposes.”

Naomi Pena, parent of four public school children and President of Community Education Council in District 1 in the Lower East Side, said: “For years, I along with other public school parents have been subjected to glossy flyers from charter schools, which have received millions of dollars from hedge fund billionaires to help them advertise in this way – though we never consented to our information being used for this purpose.  Charter schools are also able to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on social media buys, TV and radio ads, and to plaster their posters all over our subway, to boost their enrollment and waiting lists.  Meanwhile, our public schools don’t have the funding to promote themselves in this way.  This is an unfair advantage, and though I’m glad the Mayor and the Chancellor have finally decided to stop helping them market their schools to the detriment of our public schools, I only wish they had stopped this prior and not after this year’s deluge of charter mailings that I and so many other parents received.”   


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