Next Wednesday, the Panel for Educational Policy will hold a special meeting to vote on new regulations regarding parental involvement in our schools -- including School and District Leadership Teams.
School leadership teams (SLTs) are composed of half parents and half staff, with the power to develop Comprehensive Education Plans (CEPs) at the school level and be consulted as to the school-based budget.
As you may remember, Class Size Matters was involved in helping Marie Pollicino, a Queens parent, file a complaint to the State Commissioner against the way in which the chancellor had rewritten the SLT regulations, to remove the SLT's authority over both the CEP and the school-based budget, to give that power to the principal alone.
In 2008, Marie's complaint was largely upheld by the commissioner , who agreed with us that the Chancellor's revisions clearly conflicted with state law. This decision also led to the rewriting of the new governance law, to clarify the central role of the SLT and ensure that the team as a whole would retain the final authority over the CEP, and would be fully consulted by the principal over the school-based budget.
Now the Chancellor has rewritten the regs once again, in a way that we believe is still problematic and shuts out the parent voice.
Though we have several concerns that are expressed in the letter below, the most important is how the regulations need to be strengthened to ensure that a real consultative process take place between the principal and the rest of the SLT regarding the school based budget, and that the principal should not have the final say over the CEP if there is no consensus, as is presently proposed, because this would seriously undermine any incentive on his or her part to reach consensus with the rest of the team.
Finally, it is crucial that the CEC President or his/her designee in each district be included as legally-required member of the District leadership team, as is President's council; this is where real collaboration and discussion regarding school siting and overall district plans is supposed to occur.
Please, sign your name to the end of Marie's letter, along with the other parent leaders below, and send it to the Chancellor and the members of the PEP today. Their email addresses are included at the top of the letter.
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To Chancellor Klein, Chair Chang and the members of the Panel for Educational Policy:
As the parent who issued the original complaint to the State Commissioner after the Chancellor's attempt to rewrite the regulations concerning School Leadership Teams in 2007-- a complaint the Commissioner largely upheld – I along with others whose signatures are below urge the Department of Education and the PEP to adopt the following changes to the A665 regulations, as now proposed:
1. In order to create more of a balance between all the members of the team, the principal should not be eligible to serve as the chair of the School Leadership Team.
2. At any time during the school year, when requested, the principal shall make available to any member of the team the Galaxy table of organization report, with confidential information redacted, rather than as currently proposed, only when requested by the team as a whole. Similarly, any member of the team upon request should be able to receive a copy of the Galaxy budget allocations and table of organization, as well as any other information requested on the amount and use of the school’s Contract for Excellence funding and/or other categorical funding provided by the city, state or federal government to provide specific programs, staffing or services.
3. To ensure full consultation on the development of the school-based budget, as the law provides, the first draft of the school-based budget should be reviewed by a budget committee of the team, to give advice and input to the principal. This committee should include both teachers and parents. The revised budget should then be presented to the full SLT for their further input before its final adoption by the principal.
4. If the SLT cannot reach agreement on the Comprehensive Educational Plan, it should seek assistance from the District Leadership Team (instead of superintendent as currently drafted). If after 30 days, no agreement can be reached following this assistance, then the superintendent should make the final determination, rather than the principal as currently proposed.
If principals are given the power to make the final decision as to the CEP, this weakens their incentive to form a consensus with the rest of the team, which in turn undermines the provision in the new law that the entire team should have the authority to develop the CEP.
6. A copy of the CEP should be posted in a prominent location in each school, placed on the school's website, and made available to any parent who requests it by December 31 of each year, along with a copy of the school-based budget, with any confidential information redacted.
7. The president of the district Community Education Council (or designee) should be a mandated part of the District Leadership Team. As currently written, the Community Education Council is left out of the membership of the DLT, which is a serious omission if there is to be productive collaboration among all the district’s stakeholders.
Marie Pollicino, recording secretary of the Community District Education Council 26, Queens
Leonie Haimson, Executive Director, Class Size Matters
Rob Caloras, President, Community District Education Council 26, Queens
James Calantjis, SLT Support Center, sltsupport.blogspot.com
Sue Dietrich, 1st VP of Chancellor's Parent Advisory Council*; Recording secretary of the Staten Island Federation*
Lisa Donlan, President of the Community District Education Council 1*, Manhattan
Monica Major, President of the Community District Education Council 11*, Bronx
Patricia Connelly, parent, MS 51, District 15; Member, Citywide Council on Special Education, 2007-2009; Member, SLT, PS 107, District 15, 2001 - 2003, Brooklyn
* affiliation for identification purposes only