2005-02-11 / Community

Deadline Nearing For New CEC Applicants

By Howard Schwach

The city’s Department of Education (DOE) has announced that there are presently four vacancies on the District 27 Community Education Council (CEC), an 11-member body made up of parents of public school children. The deadline for applications is February 19.

Those four vacancies represent nearly half of the nine parents on the board that was chosen just last year and began office in July.

At that time, only one Rockaway parent, Matthew Regan, a parent of a student at PS 114, was elected to the board. Another Rockaway man, David Hooks of Far Rockaway, was appointed by Helen Marshall to the board. It is unclear as to whether the two will remain on the board this coming year.

The CEC members are elected by the three top parent association members in each of the district’s schools in a special election to be held later in the year.

In January of 2004, when the councils were first announced, Chancellor Joel Klein said, “the new councils aim to empower parents at all levels of the school system.”

After a year, however, there is some skepticism on the part of those who sit on the councils. There is wide-spread dissatisfaction among both CEC members and those who remained in their parent associations rather than applying for parent councils. The belief is that the CEC’s were set up as a public relations vehicle to give the appearance of parental involvement while effectively cutting parents off from the decision-making process almost completely.

In fact, a number of the councils have joined together into an association and hired a lawyer because of the perception that they have no power whatsoever.

“We have been so marginalized by the Department of Education that the districts can ignore us and put us in the back of the room,” said one local CEC member who asked not to be identified.

In announcing the vacancies, the DOE listed the duties of CEC members. They include “promoting educational achievement; meeting with PA officers and school leadership teams; having a voice in establishing educational policy for the district and establishing relationships with parents to advocate for their concerns.”

Applications for those who are interested in running for one of the open seats can be obtained on line at www.nycnet.edu/councils or by calling (718) 642-5805.

Each council is made up of nine parent members, two members appointed by Borough President Helen Marshall and one non-voting student member.

Candidates may not be PA officers, DOE employees or elected or appointed officials. In addition, nobody with a conflict of interest because they do business with the DOE can serve as a CEC member.

Last year, the date for filing applications was extended because an insufficient number of candidates filed applications in a number of districts.

Calls from The Wave to the DOE to ascertain which of the nine CEC members have resigned their positions went unreturned.

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