Advocates for Justice And Parents Win New Education Elections
Department of Education sets re-do of Advisory elections and pushes back later rounds of voting per NYC Parents Union demands; other issues to be resolved during the next few days
May 12, 2011, New York, NY — The fledgling New York City Parents Union and six other parent petitioners earned a victory today that benefits all New York City public school parents. Based on many problems with the implementation of elections for the 36 Education Councils in New York City, the parents started legal action to block the elections, and the City of New York and the New York City Department of Education today agreed to invalidate the current election process and implement a new one commencing on Wednesday, May 18th.
There will be a press conference on the steps of the Tweed Courthouse, where the New York City Department of Education has its offices, at 1:00 PM on Friday, May 13th.
Advocates for Justice, a public interest law firm, represents the New York City Parents Union and other parents in this matter. Arthur Z. Schwartz, Esq., President of Advocates for Justice, stated the following:
"The Department of Education agreed with us to re-run the Education Council elections and to make sure that all parents have an opportunity to vote — including those without internet access — to make sure that information about every eligible candidate is available prior to the commencement of voting, and to resolve all eligibility issues before the voting begins, rather than afterwards. Although there are still details to be worked out, some of which could result in subsequent litigation, we've put our legal action on hold. It is our hope that the Department will work with the NYC Parents Union, all of the parents and elected officials to resolve all disputes expeditiously over the next several days."
Ms. Muba Yarofulani, President of the President's Council District 18 in Brooklyn and a Vice President of the NYC Parents Union, stated "This day is a victorious day for the NYC Parents Union and the six petitioners who represented the previously unheard voices of all NYC public school parents. The flawed Community Education Council elections, which actually disenfranchised parents, will hopefully be done in a satisfactory and more compliant manner."
Ms. Mariama Sanoh, a Vice President of the NYC Parents Union, highlighted the arrival of a new force on the public education scene in New York. "This is the first victory for our newly formed New York City Parents Union. Parents have been ignored for too long and there is no independent citywide voice for us. But change has come for the New York City education system through this challenge and this positive outcome."
Ms. Mona Davids, President of the NYC Parents Union stated, "The New York City Parents Union is proud to stand up for the rights of all parents and we rejoice in this victory knowing that disenfranchised and disrespected parents will be empowered by what we have done."
Chris Owens, Executive Director of Advocates for Justice and a former Community School Board member, said, "The Department of Education's action today is an excellent first step of many that are needed. There remains room for improvement in the Education Council selection process and ideas have been put forward by many people. The Department of Education should make every effort to make these elections the best they can be and not just 'good enough.' In the long run, this may require changing the State's education law as well. Parents deserve to have their voices heard all of the time and not just during crises or through legal action."
Today's decision by the Department of Education means that parents will vote again for Education Council candidates running for one of the 36 Councils: the 32 Community Education Councils, Citywide Council on High Schools, Citywide Council on English Language Learners, Citywide Council on Special Education, or District 75 Council. Part 1 of the voting, where parents cast "advisory" votes regarding their preference of candidate, will now start on Wednesday, May 18th and proceed through May 25th. Part 2 of the voting, where designated "selectors" cast their binding ballots for candidates, will start on Friday, May 27th and continue through Friday, June 3rd. If there are any run-offs between candidates, they would take place on June 6th and June 7th.
# # #