Parent Association officers are now eligible to serve on Citywide and Community District Education Councils. That change is among several described under newly issued Chancellor's Regulations which set out new rules for selection, nomination, and filling vacancies for parent councils: Community District Education Councils (CEC's), Citywide Council on High Schools, Citywide Council on Special Education, and Citywide Council on English Language Learners.
The new regulations have several features in common:
- All expand membership eligibility to include PTA/PA officers.
- All bar such officer candidates from exercising their vote in the selection process.
- Current members of the Panel for Educational Policy, School Leadership Teams, elected officials, and Department of Education employees remain ineligible to run for or serve on the councils.
- All councils must include parents of kids who have IEPs (specifying special needs) and English Language-Learner status.
- All councils must now conduct their meetings in accordance with the New York Open Meetings Law.
The regulations are detailed and complex. While new elections (other than those for the citywide ELL and special education councils) will not take place until next year, they will affect councils with vacancies, which is virtually all of the councils. Those councils must fill openings with parents of special education students and students learning English, if there are no such representatives currently on the councils.
In March we reported on NY1's series about the District 16 council which has only two members. It is the only parent council without a quorum but most others have vacancies, especially for parents of kids with special needs, or who are learning to speak English.
Council members are elected by parent representatives or appointed by the borough presidents. According to the DOE there are now nine vacancies in the 34 councils for borough president appointees; 65 vacancies for parents; seven vacancies for special needs parents, and 27 for ELL parents. Aside from District 16, the councils with the most openings are District 6 in Upper Harlem and Washington Heights, and District 32 in Bushwick, each with five openings; and District 11 in the Bronx with four.
According to a Department of Education spokesperson, "There will be no change this year for councils without vacancies. If a parent vacancy occurs, then the council will fill it with an ELL or Special Ed. parent.