NYC principals union declares unanimous vote of ‘no confidence’ in Mayor Bill de Blasio

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Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza are facing calls to abdicate control of the nation’s largest district after a union representing principals declared a unanimous vote of ‘no confidence’ in their handling of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The stunning vote from the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, which represents more than 6,400 education leaders in the Big Apple, came two days before schools are set to resume in-person learning for students in grades K through 8 on Tuesday.

The union ripped into de Blasio and Carranza’s ‘failure to lead New York City through a safe and successful reopening of schools’ and demanded that they hand over control of the district to state officials. 

‘CSA calls on Mayor de Blasio to cede mayoral control of the Department of Education for the remainder of this health crisis and for Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza to seek the immediate intervention of the New York State Education Department,’ the union said in a statement. 

NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza (pictured)

Mayor Bill de Blasio (left) and NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza (right) are facing calls to abdicate control of the nation’s largest district after a union representing principals declared a unanimous vote of ‘no confidence’ in their handling of the coronavirus pandemic

The stunning vote from the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, which represents more than 6,400 education leaders in the Big Apple, came two days before schools are set to resume in-person learning for students in grades K through 8 on Tuesday. Pictured: Children are greeted on their first day of pre-school in Queens on September 21

The stunning vote from the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, which represents more than 6,400 education leaders in the Big Apple, came two days before schools are set to resume in-person learning for students in grades K through 8 on Tuesday. Pictured: Children are greeted on their first day of pre-school in Queens on September 21

CSA President Mark Cannizzaro explained the action during a conference call with reporters on Sunday afternoon, noting that it marked the first time the union has called for such a drastic state intervention in city schools.  

‘All summer long, we’ve been running into roadblock after roadblock, with changing guidance, confusing guidance – often no guidance,’ Cannizzaro said.

‘During this health crisis, school leaders have lost trust and faith in Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza to support them in their immense efforts and provide them with the guidance and staffing they need.

‘Quite simply, we believe the City and DOE need help from the State Department, and we hope that the mayor soon realizes why this is necessary.’ 

CSA President Mark Cannizzaro (pictured) explained the action during a conference call with reporters on Sunday afternoon

CSA President Mark Cannizzaro (pictured) explained the action during a conference call with reporters on Sunday afternoon

Cannizzaro stopped short of threatening a strike for principals and administrators, citing the importance of their leadership during reopenings.  

‘We’re right now in the middle of a pandemic. Our kids need us,’ he said. ‘I feel it would be a disingenuous type of move [to strike]. 

‘It would be basically saying: “We’re not going to try to make this better for the kids.”‘

He continued: ‘School leaders want school buildings reopened and have been tirelessly planning to welcome back students since the end of last school year.

‘They must now look staff, parents, and children in the eye and say they have done all they can to provide a safe and quality educational experience, but given the limited resources provided them, this is becoming increasingly difficult.’ 

Cannizzaro said holding the confidence vote was one of the hardest decisions he’s made in his 35 years in education, but said that union members felt it was necessary to force action by the mayor’s office and the New York City Department of Education.

DOE Press Secretary Miranda Barbot released a statement shortly after Cannizzaro’s announcement, saying: ‘For the past six months, we’ve worked with our labor partners to navigate completely uncharted waters and accomplish our shared goal of serving students this fall.

‘We’ll continue this work to guarantee a safe, health and successful opening for all. This week, more kids will be safely sitting in New York City classrooms than in any other major American city – a testament to city leadership and our educators’ commitment to their students, and the importance of in-person education.’

'All summer long, we've been running into roadblock after roadblock, with changing guidance, confusing guidance - often no guidance,' Cannizzaro said. Pictured: A teacher at Ung Wing School PS 124 wears a coronavirus mask as she teaches remotely from her classroom

‘All summer long, we’ve been running into roadblock after roadblock, with changing guidance, confusing guidance – often no guidance,’ Cannizzaro said. Pictured: A teacher at Ung Wing School PS 124 wears a coronavirus mask as she teaches remotely from her classroom

New York City’s road to reopening schools has been plagued by controversy as de Blasio and the DOE have repeatedly backtracked on plans amid criticism from parents and educators who say the district is unprepared to bring students back into the classroom. 

All schools were set to resume in-person classes on September 10, before de Blasio pushed back the reopening timeline until September 21. 

Then four days before the new reopening date, de Blasio changed his mind again and switched to a phased reopening. Under that plan, preschools opened on September 21, followed by kindergarten through fifth grade schools on September 29 and then middle and high schools on October 1.   

De Blasio said he and the DOE chose to switch to a phased reopening because the city needed more time to prepare buildings, recruit more teachers and address other concerns raised by union leaders. 

The news was immediately met with backlash as parents and administrators accused  the mayor and Carranza of ignoring union leaders’ concerns until the last minute. 

On Sunday, Cannizzaro assured that principals will be ready on the dates their schools are expected to reopen. 

‘The frustration and the difficulty is immense, [but] we are still 100 percent supportive of trying to open our schools in the best possible way we can, our principals will be there on Tuesday,’ he said. 

‘Our teachers we know will be there on Tuesday, and we’re going to do everything we can to make the children’s experience the best it possibly can and then the same thing will happen again on Thursday when our high school folks come in with district 75 in Pre-K and 3-K teams have already been in the entire week last week, and they’ve done what they could to make the best possible experience for their children as well.’    

New York City's road to reopening schools has been plagued by controversy as de Blasio and the DOE have repeatedly backtracked on plans amid criticism from parents and educators who say the district is unprepared to bring students back into the classroom. Pictured: Protesters call for de Blasio to cancel in person classes outside a school in Queens on September 17

New York City’s road to reopening schools has been plagued by controversy as de Blasio and the DOE have repeatedly backtracked on plans amid criticism from parents and educators who say the district is unprepared to bring students back into the classroom. Pictured: Protesters call for de Blasio to cancel in person classes outside a school in Queens on September 17 

At least 150 employees in the NYC public school district have already tested positive for coronavirus in the three weeks since teachers arrived back on campus to prepare classrooms, according to the New York Post.

The city’s Department of Education has refused to disclose the total number of teachers and administrators who have been quarantined for 14 days since returning to school buildings on September 8, but the Post came up with its estimate based on reports from teachers themselves.  

At IS 51 Edwin Markham in Staten Island, about 70 staffers have been forced to quarantine until October 1, a source told the outlet.  

‘It was a s**t show,’ the source said. ‘No one is running the school.’

The DOE had previously admitted that 50 IS 51 staffers had been told to isolate, and blamed the outbreak on employees ‘disregarding social distancing protocol’.  

Principal Nicholas Mele condemned that assertion as ‘completely untrue’ in a statement on Friday.  

‘We followed all appropriate social distancing and meeting guidelines,’ Mele wrote. 

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