2011-05-13 / Top Stories

DOE’s CEC Election Postponed

Parent Protests Force Delay
By Howard Schwach

New School Chancellor Dennis Walcott has postponed this week’s CEC election. New School Chancellor Dennis Walcott has postponed this week’s CEC election. In the wake of vitriolic parent protests about insufficient candidate information and a convoluted election process, Education Department officials announced this week they would delay the voting deadline for local school-council elections by at least a week.

The announcement came just a half an hour before a state Supreme Court judge was set to decide whether to issue a temporary restraining order after a group of parents filed a lawsuit aimed at preventing a second round of voting until the problems were fixed.

The two sides met on Tuesday to see if a compromise could be reached, but little came from the meeting, the attorney for the parents told reporters.

“After reviewing concerns raised by parents and public officials,” said schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, “I have concluded that the process could and should have been handled better.”

Parents had reported being excluded unfairly from the ballots and complained about difficulties finding out who was running.

The councils replaced the school boards after Mayor Bloomberg took control of the school system aftewr his election nine years ago.

Each of the district community education councils (CECs) has nine members elected by the parent association members in each of the district’s schools.

In addition, there are two community members,usually business people or community activists, appointed by the chancellor.

While the former district parent bodies, the community school boards, were elected in a special election, the CEC election is not a public election and only those with a DOE code can access the candidates and their resumés.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer called the election process “deeply flawed” and “undemocratic” and urged the cancellation of the election, which was set for Tuesday of this week.

Stringer and a coalition of Manhattan CEC members called for the election to be postponed “until it is conducted in a fair and democratic manner.”

Many parents, including some in District 27, which covers Rockaway and part of the mainland, say that they were unfairly excluded from the ballot and that, in a number of local cases, they could not even access the DOE site to find out whether or not they were even on the ballot after applying for a CEC slot.

And, although the election was postponed until Tuesday, May 17, some local insiders said that the election may well be put off for a longer period of time while all of the bugs are worked out.

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