May 22, 2013
By Stephanie West
New York, NY – On Tuesday, May 20, public school parents squared off against the New York City Department of Education ("NYCDOE") in a court hearing before Judge Schlomo S. Hagler arguing for a re-run of the Community and Citywide Education Council elections, as well as access to the names and contacts of all "parent selectors" who may vote. "Parent selectors" are the President, Secretary and Treasurer of each Parent Association.
The parent plaintiffs are represented by Arthur Z. Schwartz, Esq., Lead Attorney with the public interest organization, Advocates for Justice. The parents argued that the NYCDOE conducted a flawed election because it did not provide parent candidates with the names and contacts of parent selectors, allowing candidates to campaign.
Judge Hagler has enjoined the NYCDOE from releasing results of the elections and conducting any runoff elections until Thursday, May 30th, when he will hear testimony from parents and NYCDOE employees. At this hearing, the NYCDOE is required to present evidence that parent candidates were actually informed as to who the parent selectors were in their respective districts.
Attorney Schwartz said: "The Mayor and the Chancellor have endeavored for years to lessen the role of parents in the educational process. They don't listen to parents at public hearings, they don't listen to parents at PEP meetings, and now they want to eliminate even the semblance of debate in the selection of Community Education Council members. Our lawsuit is a first step in the direction of re-empowerment of the CECs. It is amazing how symbolic a request to send one email can be."