Thursday, December 29, 2022

How DOE & FACE screwed up the elections for new PEP members

An article about DOE's terrible administration of these elections is here.
Dec. 22, 2022

Ms. Kenita D. Lloyd
Deputy Chancellor for Family and Community Engagement and External Affairs 

Dear Deputy Chancellor Lloyd,

The Education Council Consortium (ECC) denounces the New York City Department of Education’s (DOE) 2022 Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) member election and calls for the reopening of voting. 

In June of 2022, the New York State Legislature amended the constitution of the PEP by adding 5 new members, to be elected by Presidents of Community Education Councils.  Despite the statutory timeline, DOE continuously delayed the process, resulting in confusion and chaos, ultimately leading to the disenfranchisement of eligible voters.  The DOE failed to provide sufficient notice of the election, providing less than 72 hours notice of the date of the election, and only sending notice via email.  The DOE held an unreasonably short voting period of less than 24-hours and did not provide an alternative method of voting for voters without access or needing digital accommodations.  These circumstances and more, served to disenfranchise CEC Presidents who were eligible and entitled to vote in the election of the borough PEP members.

The DOE did not provide sufficient notice of the election.  CEC Presidents were given less than 72-hours notice of the date of the election, and were only notified of the election via email.  As a result, eligible voters that didn’t check their email during that 72-hour period were not notified of the date of the election, and thus were not able to vote.  Additionally, the DOE’s decision to hold an election without providing at least one week’s advanced notice is a deviation from past practice.  For example, for the DOE’s bi-annual CEC member elections, notice is provided months in advance, and using multiple mediums (paid media advertisements, mail, social media, email, phone calls, text messages, etc.).  Even parent-run elections, like PTA board and Title 1 representative elections require at least 10 days of advanced notice.  In addition to the lack of timely notice, DOE should have supplemented the notification email with one other form of notice (e.g. call or mailing).  Voters should have had at least a 10-day notice period, similar to other parent elections, so that voters could schedule properly.

The DOE held an unreasonably short voting window considering the nature of the election.  The DOE provided voters with a less than 24-hour window to vote.  The notice regarding how to vote and the link for the ballot was sent to voters the night before the voting window began, and there were technical glitches in the system that had not been resolved at the time of the notice.  Again, requiring everyone to vote electronically without providing a reasonable period of time for voting is unacceptable.  The candidate forum, where candidates presented their campaign platforms, was held the night before the 24-hour voting window, and the DOE had not even made the recordings available for viewing.  Expecting voting to occur before DOE was even able to make all of the voting information available demonstrates the unreasonably short notice and voting window.

Similarly, new and arbitrary rules restricting voters’ ability to have a voting proxy disenfranchised voters who were unable to cast their ballot.  For example, a CEC 1’s President whose brother had recently passed away had appointed her Vice President to serve as her proxy, per the CEC’s bylaws.  The night before the voting window began, an arbitrary rule preventing proxy voting was issued via email.  CEC 1’s President did not receive the notice until after the election, and the CEC 1 Vice President was not allowed to vote.  The creation of new and arbitrary policies in the ninth hour had the effect of disenfranchising voters.

December is one of the busiest times of the year for many.  CEC Presidents juggle job responsibilities, and family and personal obligations, on top of their role as CEC Presidents.  Adequate notice for meetings and reasonable time windows for voting are required.  The DOE’s PEP member election should be held to the same requirements as those set for PTA, CPAC, and CEC elections.


In Partnership,

NeQuan C. McLean


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