Parents are skeptical that parent involvement will improve with the reorganized Division of Family and Community Engagement (FACE), headed by Bronx parent Jesse Mojica. It's the third time that the office has been reorganized since 2007.
At a packed City Council hearing Thursday morning, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and Mojica fielded complaints and suggestions to improve parent involvement from council members, union representatives and parents.
"What will you do to give parents real power?" Brooklyn Council Member Charles Barron asked Walcott and Mojica, getting to the heart of most concerns raised at the hearing.
Walcott said he wants to work with the council more, and echoed points he made in a speech in October, when he promised to improve parent engagement. When asked how much influence parent committees have in DOE decisions, like school closing, Walcott responded, "the Community Education Councils do have a powerful role shaping what takes place in their particular district."
Lynn Sanchez, a representative for Community Education Council 4 in East Harlem, disagreed, saying CEC meetings are one-sided. "It's just space to sit and talk and talk and hear the DOE give fabulous presentations that are meaningless. They present to us and we ask questions that get no response."
Other concerns included recent parent coordinator lay-offs, the planned Parent Academy, and questions about how the new structure will better support parent coordinators and engage parents.
Walcott left the meeting after council members finished asking questions, but Mojica stayed to listen to parents give their testimony. A parent told us she asked Walcott why he was leaving before parents’ had their turn at the mike. She said Walcott told her: "I have a $24 billion company to run."
We live-tweeted the first two hours of the hearing. Check out the feed on our twitter page @insideschools.