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Thursday, April 23, 2015

James Calantjis, Proponent of School Leadership Teams and Participatory Democracy, Welcomes Supreme Court Decision That SLTs are Open Meetings

From Jim Calantjis:

This is a great victory and strong decision in keeping SLTs open to the public rather than hid in secrecy. However, just as important, was the statements made by the judge on page 9 of the decision. The judge affirmed that:

     "If it is filling its statutory role, a school's SLT is not  a mere advisor to the principal."

     " The role of an SLT in formulating its school's CEP is one of decision maker."

      "In fulfilling this role, the SLT acts in conjunction with and not subordinate to, the school's principal."

We should be communicating these facts to our SLTs, to embolden them to take back control of the process from the principals.
Dear Ms. Jackson-Chase,
Chief Legal Advisor for DOE)
Courtenaye Jackson-Chase

 It was a great pleasure to see the DOE's efforts to further marginalize School Leadership Teams defeated in today's court decision, Thomas v. DOE. ( 

  It is shameful that parents and teachers had to take the DOE to court to make the NYS Open Meetings Law applicable to SLTs. The legal department of the DOE has consistently tried to limit the powers and responsibilities of SLT's throughout the years, by deliberately misinterpreting State law or not enforcing it. This benign neglect even applied to its Chancellor Regulations (A-655,B-801) concerning the Comprehensive Educational Plan (CEP) and budget responsibilities of SLTs. 

 Under the mission of "principal empowerment", lip service has been given to parental and teacher involvement in school governance, that is required through School Leadership Teams.

  It is important to note the following statements in the court decision, all on page 9:
"The role of an SLT in formulating its school's CEP is one of decision maker"
"In fulfilling this role, the SLT acts in conjunction with and not subordinate to, the school's principal"
"If it is fulfilling its statutory role, a school's SLT is not a mere advisor to the principal"
 School Leadership Teams are barely functioning with little or no training in CEP and budget matters, even though it is required by law. Principals have turned SLT's into  "informational Sessions" rather than shared decision making bodies concerning the development of CEPs as required.The DOE consistently refers to SLTs as advisory bodies.

Public Advocate Letitia James, who assisted Michael Thomas
 While the DOE was successful in taking away shared decision making in the development of the budget, SLTs still have budget responsibilities that are ignored. SLTs are to align the budget with the CEP in an active way as the law intends, not passively approve an alignment by the principal. They are also to advise the principal on all budget spending. This requires budget transparency and not secrecy,so that  SLTs can do their job.
 I realize that the legal department is working on behalf of the Chancellor and DOE leadership,who must accept primary responsibility for these many legal abuses that are intended to disempower SLT's. 

James Calantjis
From Editor/Reporter Betsy Combier:

Carmen Farina made up her own rules for the SLT at PS 6: the group was made of 4 people. Carmen did not like the thought that anyone could challenge her authority as Principal, certainly not when it came to money - use of, secrecy in giving, paying out, etc.
I, a new parent to public schools for my children, reported her in 2001 for this violation of SLT rules, and the DOE reprimanded her:

Then she came after me, but was removed as principal.

Betsy Combier