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State DOE ruling supports parental involvement in city schools

Great news for those tired of seeing the city Department of Education reduce parents’ ability to be meaningfully involved in their children’s education. In a recent ruling by state Department of Education Commissioner Richard Mills, the city DOE was found to have improperly changed the rules governing parent participation in School Leadership Teams.

According to the ruling, City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein’s revision to the rules, which gave principals final decision−making authority on comprehensive education plans, violated the New York State Education Law. Mills has ordered the DOE to revise the language of Chancellor’s Regulation A−655, which governs the participation of parents, educators and administrators in School Leadership Teams.

The commissioner also ruled that the DOE does not have the authority to revise this regulation without consulting a committee representing parents of city school children for consultation and approval, the United Federation of Teachers, the city principals’ union and the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators. The commissioner rejected the chancellor’s argument that he has the power to change rules regarding School Leadership Teams in any manner he chooses.

The background of this ruling is Klein issued a revised version of the regulation on Dec. 3, 2007. Marie Pollicino, a member of Community District Education Council 26 and parent of a child enrolled in PS 98 in Douglaston, initiated an appeal challenging the revision on behalf of herself and all parents of city school children.

Thereafter, CDEC 26; Melvyn Meer, a parent of two children in PS 188 in Flushing and then a member of its School Leadership Team; and the UFT joined in Pollicino’s appeal. The parents and the union alleged that the DOE’s revision of the regulation gives principals final decision−making authority over both the school comprehensive education plan and the school−based budget violated state education law.

The commissioner sided with parents and the union on the CEP issue, but he sided with the DOE on the budget issue, agreeing that school principals should have final decision−making authority on this matter.

As president of CDEC 26, I am happy and proud of the work put in by our council’s members, Pollicino and appeals Attorney Eric DePaula on this matter. It was important that after five years of being ignored by the DOE, parents stood firm and said we are not going to take it anymore. SLTs serve an important role in ensuring meaningful dialogue among parents, teachers and principals on school matters.

The chancellor sought to reduce the input by parents and he has been stopped. I hope he comprehends the full implication of this decision and starts adhering to the law in all future attempts to change the education system.

Rob Caloras

President

Community District Education Council 26

Bayside

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