Sunday, April 12, 2020

Letter from ECC chairs that School Leadership Team meetings should continue!

UPDATE: We just learned that on April 24, the DOE posted a memo saying that School Leadership Teams should continue to meet remotely "in accordance with state law" and that these meetings are still subject on Open Meetings Law:
"In general, SLTs should seek to ensure that all members of the SLT are able to attend the meeting and that notice of the date and time of any SLT meeting has been made public 10 days before the meeting...While a public comment period is not required, SLT meetings are an opportunity to hear from members of the school community."

According to law, School Leadership Teams, made up of half parents and half school staff, are required to meet monthly, to discuss issues critical to the running of every school and to develop the school's Comprehensive Education Plan.  Yet since the school closures due to Covid-19, many SLTs have not been meeting at all.  
In the below letter, Shino Tanikawa and NeQuan McLean, co-chairs of the Education Council Consortium, which represents the parent-led Citywide and Community District Councils, urges the Chancellor to send a message to principals that these meetings should continue to occur monthly, even if remotely, as they are more essential than ever to keep the lines of communication open between parents and school staff, and that they include a Public Comment Period to allow other members of the school community to ask questions and share concerns.  
They also emphasized the need to keep these meetings open to members of the public, as the NY State Appellate Court said was required, according to their unanimous decision in 2016.-- Leonie

Chancellor Richard A. Carranza
Department of Education
Tweed Courthouse
52 Chambers Street
New York, New York 10007

April 9, 2020

Dear Chancellor Carranza,

While Coronavirus continues to spread and our school communities are impacted on a daily and ever changing basis, maintaining open lines of communication between parents, teachers and school leaders has never been more essential.

School closures, and the myriad disruptions to life as we know it—the sudden move towards remote learning, the death of loved ones caused by the pandemic, the pressure of maintaining stability in the face of this all—have reshaped our feelings about what the term “School Climate” truly means. Principals are being forced to bear an unsustainable physical and emotional burden. Families, teachers, staff, and the administrations must be heard.

Our School Leadership Teams are the support system for our schools. We were encouraged to hear that you have mandated that SLTs continue to meet during the pandemic.

We would like you to take this a step farther and would urge you to ensure that School Leadership Teams continue to meet monthly throughout the course of the pandemic, and that you implement a Public Comment Period during SLT Meetings should it not exist in SLT ByLaws, so that school community voices can be heard.

It is vitally important that schools are able to discuss, as a community, what is succeeding and failing in the various arrangements that have been made during the remote learning instruction period, and what assessment and evaluation might look like.

SLT meetings, held online, would provide a critical mechanism for parent input so that views can be considered on many critical issues ranging from school grading policies, methods for taking attendance, scheduling, or any other newly adopted practice resulting from the emergency that we all are experiencing.

SLT meetings should continue to be aligned with the New York State Open Meetings Law, as the 2016 decision of the Appellate Court requires. Announcements of Meeting Dates and times should be shared widely so that school community members and members of the public can be informed as to when the meetings will be held, how they can observe the proceedings, and how to offer comments and feedback.

As our schools have now been closed for nearly four weeks, with no clear end in sight, we would appreciate your prompt reply.

Most Sincerely in Partnership and Service,

NeQuan & Shino
Education Council Consortium

The Honorable Mayor Bill de Blasio
Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams
First Deputy Chancellor Cheryl Watson-Harris
Acting Deputy Chancellor Adrienne Austin, Esq.


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