The Department of Education today announced a do-over of this year's elections for community and citywide parent councils, and set a new voting schedule for both the advisory and the official "selector" vote. Chancellor Dennis Walcott acknowledged that this year's elections were mismanaged.
“We place tremendous value on parent involvement in our schools and recognize that we should have done a better job managing the Community and Citywide Education Councils Elections,” said Chancellor Walcott. “We believe that holding the advisory vote again and pushing back the Selector’s vote will ensure that the elections are fair to our parents and that we meet our responsibility to seat CEC Members by July 1st.”
Thursday's announcement, which coincided with an afternoon march and rally where politicians and parent activists were protesting budget cuts and teacher layoffs, caps off a few weeks in which council candidates have documented errors which marred the voting process. Some parents charged that their names were omitted from ballots, and that incomplete information was posted on the Power to the Parents website, the official election site, among other problems.
Earlier this week, the DOE announced a one week postponement in the second round of voting, but some parents and politicians,including Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, said that was not sufficient.
There are two rounds of voting for parent councils -- the first is merely a straw vote by parents, to advise the official "selectors" (PTA officers) who cast the actual votes in a later round. Now, the initial advisory vote (which took place from May 1 to May 7) has been invalidated. All parents may now vote from May 18-25. The selectors will vote from May 27 to June 3. By law, council members must take office on July 1.
Prior to today's announcement, education council members and other parents launched a petition drive, calling for new elections and a new support organization for parent involvement that is independent of the DOE.
The petitioners also ask that there be a new round offorums introducing the candidates; a DOE spokesperson said that would not happen.