If you’re the parent of a New York City public school student, keep reading, because the city wants your help.
The selection process is beginning for the Department of Education’s Community Education Councils — the parent-led bodies that play a role in shaping policies for the city’s public schools and advise officials on the community-level impact of DOE procedures and strategy.
“Serving on a Community Education Council is among the best ways for parents to have their voices heard by the Department of Education,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott. “This is the perfect time for parents who may have not been engaged before in the education process to become informed and active.”
The city has 36 CECs citywide responsible for public elementary and middle schools, seven of which are located in Queens. Each CEC has nine members, who are parents of students currently in grades K-8 in district schools. There are also four citywide CECs: the Citywide Council on High Schools, which is made up of two parents of high school students per borough; the Citywide Council on English Language Learners, made up of two parents per borough of ELL students; the Citywide Council on Special Education and the Citywide Council for District 75 students, for parents of childern in District 75 programs.
The selection process for this year has been altered somewhat in the wake of criticisms over 2011 selections, where some applicants were disqualified over rules they allege were not made clear at the beginning of the process.
To apply, a parent now has to have a child enrolled in a district school. When filling out applications, parents must list all the schools their children attend. If a parent has children attending schools in two different districts, they can run for a seat in both, but can only be elected to one.
Since CECs are to have one parent of a student with an Individualized Education Program and one parent with an English Language Learner student, parents should also list if they want to be considered to serve as the IEP or ELL members.
In the event two parents from the same school are elected to the CEC, the one with the lower number of votes will be bumped from contention. That rule was a factor in the chaotic 2011 elections, when candidates were unaware of the regulation. But if a bumped parent has indicated he or she would serve as an IEP or ELL member, that parent could serve on the CEC in that capacity.
Queens’ representative on the Panel for Educational Policy Dmytro Fedkowskyj, who was a member of District 24’s CEC, encouraged parents to consider joining.
“Parent elections are an integral part of the process and I encourage parents to become involved and active in their school district,” he said. “It’s a process that allows you to give back to your community. Back in 2004,this process gave me a chancetobecomea CEC member of District 24, which in returnallowed me the opportunity to safeguard the interest of public school education.”
Parents interested in running for a seat on a council should nominate themselves by completing an application online or by mail beginning Feb. 13 and ending March 13. The process will include forums for parents to meet candidates and ask questions of in April before final selections are made in May. CEC monthly meetings usually take place in schools within the district, while citywide CECs typically rotate their meeting places in different boroughs each month.
Those elected will serve a two-year term until new CECs are selected in 2015.