New York Principals Union leaders on Sunday called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to relinquish control of city schools to the state Department of Education for the remainder of the Covid-19 crisis after unanimously casting a no-confidence vote against him.
The vote took place just days before most city schools in the country’s largest school district reopen for personal tuition.
Last month, Mayor and School Chancellor Richard Carranza decided twice at the last minute to postpone the reopening of schools due to a teacher shortage.
On Friday, cities changed again at the 11th hour, allowing teachers who were taught remotely to work from home rather than from their schools. The Principals Union said it was not notified of the change in advance.
In its decision of no confidence, the board of directors of the Principals Union said the mayor and the chancellor had “grossly irresponsible personnel agreements that do not prioritize the needs of school children and their families”
The city’s Ministry of Education was missing around 12,000 teachers. In the past few days, city officials announced that they had won several thousand additional teachers. However, Mr de Blasio refused to say how many teachers are still needed.
Mark Cannizzaro, president of the council of school principals and administrators, which represents 6,400 school principals, said on Sunday that the city’s schools need a different governing body.
“The mayor and the chancellor may have made too many mistakes at the moment and we need them to reconsider them,” he said at a press conference. “There have been too many repetitive mistakes and we need to be able to do better for our people and our children.”
An official from the state education ministry said the agency is aware of the union’s request and is following the reopening of the city.
A spokeswoman for Mr Carranza said the city’s education department will continue to work with its work partners, including school principals, to achieve the full reopening.
“More children will be safely seated in New York classrooms this week than in any other major American city – a testament to the leadership of the city and the dedication of our educators to their students and the importance of personal education,” said spokeswoman Miranda Barbot .
A spokesman for Mr de Blasio postponed Mrs Barbot’s testimony.
A spokeswoman for the United Federation of Teachers said the city had known since the spring that additional staff was needed.
“The current arrangement aims to secure staffing of schools and the city is committed to recruiting and recruiting enough qualified educators to meet this challenge,” she said.
New York City is one of the few major boroughs trying to open up to face-to-face tuition. Los Angeles and San Diego, for example, said in July that their schools would only open remotely due to the fall pandemic.
The city has offered its one million students a choice of full distance learning or a mix of distance learning and in-person tuition. About 46% of students have opted for completely remote classes, up from 26% in August, according to the city’s Department of Education.
Preschoolers and students with special needs who receive services through a program called District 75 started face-to-face classes in the five districts last week. The schools that serve kindergarten through fifth grade and the K-8 schools will reopen on Tuesday. Upper and middle schools in grades 6 to 8 begin on Thursday.
Mr Cannizzaro said he was still concerned about a teacher shortage given the hybrid model with more classes.
In a radio interview on Friday, Mr de Blasio said he was monitoring the school’s staffing needs and checked with the union leadership.
Mr Cannizzaro also criticized the city’s response to positive cases of Covid-19 in schools on Sunday. He said school principals were still receiving inconsistent instructions from the city on reporting positive cases, preventing those responsible from communicating about changes.
“The frustration and the difficulty are immense. We still 100% support the attempt to open our schools as well as possible, ”said Cannizzaro.
Write to Katie Honan at [email protected]
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