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Saturday, July 31, 2021

NY State Commissioner Betty Rosa Suggests Remote Schooling For Children and Their Relatives With Health Issues

Education Commissioner Betty Rosa wrote in a Thursday memo that districts
 “may work with students and families to offer remote options if it is deemed to be
 in the best educational interest of the student.”

Children with special needs have accommodations on their Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) which are funded by the state and federal governments. Having been a parent advocate for 22 years and a parent to four children all of whom graduated from the NYCDOE (one with an IEP), and after winning almost $1 million for parents to attend private schools or programs at Impartial Hearings, I can give an informed opinion on the Department's latest false statement that these students possibly will be staying home and doing remote schooling.

The fact is, the Department wants/needs/spends the federal and state funds, and must monitor these funds closely, for audits and accountability purposes.

I and many other advocates for parents of children with disabilities know very well the fraud going on in NYC public schools in the area of giving the proper services to the kids who need them. Take ICT classes, for instance. ICT classes are supposed to have two teachers in the core subjects: one certified in special education and the other certified to teach general education students. Many principals give the ICT classes only one teacher, or one teacher and a substitute/paraprofessional. It's cheaper to do this. Also, when a parent gets let's say OT (Occupational Therapy) on their child's IEP and their child is supposed to get 3X30 (three sessions/week for 30 minutes) I tell the parent to have the therapist jot down a note of how their child did after each session, or ask the child every day what happened in school. Parents can keep track of missing dates of therapy.

But most parents don't do this, so principals, always mindful of keeping the school budget in the black (not over-spending available funds), may take away one or two days/week of the therapy and give the child one OT session/week, while telling the therapist not let the parents know. This is a business model of special education where the child comes last.

Children don't matter.

We posted this in 2008: DOE Violates Special Ed Law

What happens if the parent finds out? The principal is "horrified", and disciplines the OT person with a letter-to-file, discontinuance, or 3020-a charges. Then it is up to the OT person to defend his/her work, his/her schedule, career, character and life.

There are many, many stories that are the same, with the common denominator being "how much can I get away with"?

In the NYC DOE you can get away with a lot, considering there is no accountability nor investigators to uncover the truth. I have written about this many times before:
NYC Public Advocate Letitia James Sues The NYC Department of Education for Denying Special Education Children Their Services and Accommodations

Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara Scolds the NYC Department of Education For Not Making Schools Accessible To Disabled Children

The only way this might work is to give each parent of a child with an IEP the money for remote schooling, so the parent can use it as they see fit, with proper monitoring.

NYC fights family of disabled Bronx student over pandemic school ‘age-out’ policy by Michael Elsen-Rooney, NY Daily News, July 31, 2021

Ivelisse Ramirez (left) and her daughter, Maria Torres. (Wes Parnell/for New York Daily News)

Betsy Combier
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials

DOE mulling remote schooling options for kids in special circumstances

Julia Marsh and Selim Algar, NY POST, July 31, 2021

City officials are considering a remote schooling option for kids with immunocompromised relatives, a source told The Post Friday.

The Department of Education previously said that students who themselves are vulnerable could learn from home — but the city may now extend that offer to kids with family members at elevated risk, the City Hall source said.

News of the proposal drew skepticism from some educators. A Bed-Stuy middle school teacher warned that expanding remote learning eligibility could complicate the resumption of classes in September.

“It’s going to be difficult to know where to draw the line,” she said. “I can see that becoming a headache for principals if it’s not handled properly or clearly.”

Meanwhile, state Education Commissioner Betty Rosa wrote in a Thursday memo that districts “may work with students and families to offer remote options if it is deemed to be in the best educational interest of the student.”

She also urged administrators to “consider the value of online capacity developed in response to the pandemic” in crafting their curriculums this year.

Rosa stressed, however, that state officials “will not require schools that are open for full-time, in-person instruction to provide online or remote instruction” to students.

Some families and teachers union factions have called for the retention of a remote learning option for the upcoming school year.

Asserting that screen learning is inferior to in-person instruction and isolates kids, others have demanded an unrestrained return to classrooms.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has been adamant in proclaiming the end of widespread remote classes — but the emergence of the Delta variant has induced fresh parental jitters about the upcoming year.

“While the nature and extent of COVID-19 and its variants are still dynamic, it is essential that schools receive whatever guidance the Governor and the DOH intend to offer about the 2021-2022 school year as soon as possible …,” Rosa wrote in her letter to superintendents.

Parents and staffers have also been at odds over City Hall’s requirement of masks inside DOE schools in the fall.

Citing ongoing coronavirus concerns, some have backed the mandate and argued that the pandemic remains a threat inside classrooms.

Others have resisted the push, countering that COVID-19 cases in city schools were minimal last year and that masks hinder learning and socialization.

The DOE insisted Friday that the remote format introduced last year was completely defunct.

“As we announced in May, we will welcome back all students in September and there will not be a remote option,” said spokesperson Katie O’Hanlon. “Our home instruction program, which benefits a small number of children who are medically unable to attend school, will continue as it did pre-pandemic and as always, we will work with families to tailor the instruction based on the medical needs of each child.”

Backers include City Council education chair Mark Treyger, who said the “DOE should offer a fall remote option for kids not of vaccination age” earlier this month.

Monday, July 19, 2021

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer Finds NYC Education Department Errors Cost City + State $180 Million


New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer (Luiz C. Ribeiro/for New York Daily News)

$180 million could have helped many children with special needs. Is there no one in New York City who knows accounting and wants to work for the NYC Department of Education? Please, find someone who knows what to do with $37 Billion before all of that goes missing as well.

Betsy Combier
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials

NYC Education Department officials cost city, state $180M by not seeking federal aid for special services: comptroller audit
By , NY DAILY NEWS, July 18, 2021

Poor management by city government deprived programs for New York schoolchildren hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid, an audit by city Comptroller Scott Stringer found.

The shortfall came because Department of Education officials didn’t submit all the paperwork to secure more than $155 million in reimbursement for some speech, occupational and physical therapy sessions, Stringer’s auditors found.

The Education Department missed out on at least another $25 million by never requesting reimbursement for other services, the auditors say.

Half of the roughly $180 million city Education Department officials left on the table would have gone to the state under federal rules, with the remaining $90 million flowing to the city coffers, auditors said.

“This is money that could be in our classrooms supporting our children when they need it most,” said Stringer in a statement. “This mismanagement is unacceptable, and the DOE must improve its process to capture every last dollar eligible for reimbursement.”

DOE officials vigorously disputed Stringer’s findings.

The officials say Stringer overstated the amount of federal money the city would have obtained by including the 50% that would have gone to state government. Department of Education Chief Administrative Officer Lauren Siciliano said Stringer is holding the department to a standard that is “neither fair nor reasonable.”

Stringer’s office argued that since DOE is responsible for submitting all the reimbursement claims, it was appropriate to note the total amount the agency missed out on recouping, even if half of it would have gone to the state.

To claim money for special education services from Medicaid — the federal insurance program that covers medical costs for low-income people — school districts must compile reams of paperwork, including doctor referrals, evidence that therapists are licensed, consent from families to apply for reimbursement, and notes documenting therapy sessions.

Auditors said the DOE conducted roughly 6.8 million individual therapy sessions during the 2018-19 school year for which it could’ve claimed reimbursement.

But the Education Department was missing at least one element of the necessary paperwork for about 1.6 million of those therapy sessions, depriving the agency of up to $155 million in potential reimbursements, auditors said.
The most common piece of missing documentation was a referral from a doctor, auditors found.

The DOE has a team of in-house doctors that writes referrals for occupational and physical therapy, and agency officials said they try to deploy those doctors based on need. Stringer’s auditors advised the DOE to hire more doctors.

Stringer’s auditors found other holes in the DOE’s procedures.

In roughly one-fourth of the cases the auditors analyzed, the DOE failed to submit evidence that the provider had an appropriate license to claim federal reimbursement. The comptroller’s office recommended a “comprehensive review” to determine which therapists need to obtain or update their credentials.

Scores of disabled students in private schools also receive DOE-funded therapy that is eligible for federal reimbursement — but the city does not always make sure the private schools provide the paperwork needed for the city to get federal reimbursement, the auditors found.

Stringer’s auditors said city education officials need to strictly enforce the expectation that private schools create their own referrals from doctors.
Another problem, Stringer’s auditors found, was a shortfall in the consent forms collected from students’ families.

A DOE spokeswoman countered that claim, saying the agency collects consent from 85% of families, “one of the best collection rates in the country on a form that is voluntary for families to complete and return.”

In one pointed back-and-forth, auditors dinged DOE officials for failing to take advantage of a Medicaid program that reimburses districts for psychological counseling.

The DOE frequently provides students therapy that meets the Medicaid definition for “psychological counseling” — but fails to classify the sessions as such on students’ Individual Education Plans, auditors said.

The department says many of those counseling sessions are not eligible for federal reimbursement, and that changing recommendations on students’ IEPs would amount to “focus[ing] on revenue rather than the student’s needs.”.

But Stringer’s report says that’s “patently untrue,” and that the oversight cost the city up to $2.4 million in federal money during the 2018-19 school year.

The DOE has long struggled with Medicaid reimbursement. Stringer’s office found in 2014 the DOE lost out on $356 million in unclaimed funds over the course of three years.

The agency ramped up its efforts in 2013, and Medicaid reimbursement revenues shot up from roughly $18 million in 2016 to $97 million in 2019, before falling some during the pandemic, the report found.

The Education Department now has an office dedicated to overseeing Medicaid reimbursement requests, though it employs only five people, according to the audit.

DOE officials argued that recouping every possible dollar of Medicaid reimbursement likely would require big spending outlays on new systems and staff.

“We reject this audit’s suggestions that prioritize bureaucratic procedures over New York City families,” said Education Department spokeswoman Katie O’Hanlon. “We have already implemented many of this report’s recommendations and will continue to work towards maximizing all reimbursements as appropriate, but not ahead of the needs of students.”

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Paula Lev, Principal of the High School for Law and Public Service, Tries To Divide Her School By Race


White spite: NYC principal ‘conspired to oust Caucasian teachers’

by Susan Edelman, NY POST, July 10, 2021

The faculty of a Washington Heights high school is rebelling against their principal, charging in a vote of no confidence that she has “flagrantly but unsuccessfully attempted to divide our school by race.”

Paula Lev, principal of the High School for Law and Public Service, is now under investigation by the city Department of Education for allegedly telling a faculty member she “was going to get rid of all these white teachers that aren’t doing anything for the kids of our community,” a complaint states.

Lev, a Dominican, also asked the faculty member to “conspire with her” to try to oust a white colleague, according to the complaint filed last week with the DOE’s Office of Equal Opportunity.

“She definitely has something against white people,” says the complaint, obtained by The Post.

On the last day of school, Lev gave the faculty member a notice that he was “placed in excess” — meaning no longer needed at the school — and should look for a job elsewhere in the DOE. 

“He blew the whistle on her and a week later he was excessed,” a colleague said. It’s unclear whether Lev knew about the complaint.

The complaint came amid simmering unrest at the school, which staffers blamed on what they said was Lev twisting the current concepts of equity and anti-racism, which the DOE promotes and teachers overwhelmingly support.

Dissatisfaction with Lev, 39, boiled up in February, when teacher Nick Bacon, the union chapter leader, filed a routine grievance about a scheduling issue that could have affected most of the faculty, staffers said.

In front of a half-dozen other staffers, Lev questioned Bacon’s motives.

“I wasn’t sure what your problem with me was, maybe it’s because I am a woman of color and you’re a white man?” Lev asked Bacon, according to a March 2 letter to District 6 Superintendent Manny Ramirez and signed by most of the school’s tenured members.

Staffers were outraged that Lev had seemingly accused Bacon, who was raising their labor concerns, of being racist. The school has a diverse staff — about half white, some Jewish and Greek. A mix of black, Hispanic and Asian make up the rest. 

The grievance raised by Bacon was resolved in the union’s favor. In an effort to quell the furor over Lev’s remark, Ramirez agreed in a meeting that what she said was “inappropriate,” but added that the comment expressed Lev’s feelings, and urged Bacon to work with her, staffers said.

In a later meeting with Bacon, Lev apologized for making the remark openly at a staff conference — but not for the substance of her comment, saying it reflected her true feelings and should have been expressed to him alone, said people informed of the discussion.

At the same time, they said, Lev suggested that Bacon read the 2018 book by Robin DiAngelo “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism,” which argues that whites get defensive when questioned about racial inequality. 

She said Bacon could join her and other staffers in studying the book and have “courageous conversations,” using a term coined by a consultant hired by the DOE to give implicit-bias workshops for employees.

Four months after the conflict involving Bacon, another faculty member filed the discrimination complaint alleging that Lev had pressured him to help her engineer the ouster of a colleague, an unidentified white female staffer.

Lev wanted the faculty member to get a state education certification, the complaint states, so he would not have the same title as the targeted colleague, clearing the way for Lev to “excess” the more senior staffer.

“Ms. Lev has asked me to conspire with her on a couple of occasions in getting rid of my colleague,” the faculty member alleges in the OEO filing.

“She also stated to me in Spanish that she was ‘going to get rid of all these white teachers that aren’t doing anything for the kids of our community,’” the complaint states.

It concludes, “I believe Ms. Lev is not suited for the position of principal because of the comments she has made to me about white people and the malicious ways in which she thinks and speaks. She is not fit to be a leader of a school.

“As a school staff, we have lost confidence, creditability, trust, and most importantly we have lost hope in Ms. Lev as a principal at the High School for Law & Public Service.” 

Frustrated staffers said Bacon reached out to Chancellor Meisha Porter in early July, begging her to intervene after Ramirez failed to resolve the conflict.

On June 24, most of the school’s nearly 50 faculty members met to consider four possible reasons to vote no confidence in Lev, including that she had 1) “flagrantly but unsuccessfully attempted to divide our school community by race,” and 2) “disrespected, slandered, and/or arbitrarily gone after respected educators, to the detriment of our entire school community.”

The ballot also gave as reasons that Lev “constantly violated our contract” and failed to collaborate with the staff on important school decisions.

“With almost the entire 40+ membership voting, including both tenured and untenured teachers, paraprofessionals, and related service professionals, 83.3% voted that they no longer have confidence in our principal to lead our school,” said an email to staffers.

Votes of no confidence against DOE school leaders are unusual. The faculty of Forest Hills High School in Queens voted no confidence in then-principal Ben Sherman in 2019 after complaints, among others, that he let marijuana smoking by students run rampant. The DOE eventually removed Sherman from the school, but gave him a bureaucratic post at the same salary.

Lev was named interim acting principal of Law and Public Service, one of five schools in the George Washington Educational campus, in February 2020, shortly before the COVID-19 shutdown. She was awarded the post late last year after filling in for beloved founding principal Nicholas Politis, who retired.

Previously, she served three years as an instructional specialist for the DOE’s special-ed data system. Before that, she was a special-ed assistant principal for three years, and a special-ed teacher for three years.

Lev, whose salary was $165,542 last year, is married to another DOE principal, Benjamin Lev.

She did not return messages. DOE spokesman Nathaniel Styer would not comment on the faculty’s vote of no confidence.  “The superintendent and executive superintendent are working closely with the principal, students and community to address concerns,” he said.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

NYC Unions Agree To Move Retirees To Privatized Health Insurance


Mayor Bill de Blasio

NYC Unions Confirm Decision To Shift Retirees Onto Privatized Health Insurance

By Caroline Lewis, Gothamist, July 14, 2021

The leaders of unions representing city workers voted Wednesday to shift retiree health benefits to a new plan under Medicare Advantage, a program in which public benefits are administered through private companies.

The vote, conducted by the Municipal Labor Committee, came out in favor of awarding a city contract for the custom Medicare Advantage plan to The Alliance, a collaboration between EmblemHealth and Anthem Blue Cross.

"The City’s commitment to our retirees is unwavering, and our new plan increases both quality and benefits for retirees while also lowering costs for the City and its taxpayers," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement after the vote.

The move will affect some 250,000 municipal retirees, hundreds of whom marched against the changes in Manhattan last week in the midst of a heat wave. Critics had expressed concerns that access to care would be diminished under the new plan, while some retirees lamented that there wasn’t enough transparency in the process of making the change.

“They should have involved us a year ago when the city was first putting together the request for proposals,” said Stuart Eber, president of the Council of Municipal Retiree Organizations.

His group launched a petition in March to preserve existing benefits and involve retiree organizations in the process of making any changes. It had notched nearly 25,000 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.

But in their statement on Wednesday, city officials sought to allay any fears. Any doctor who accepts traditional Medicare payments is required to accept payments from the NYC Medicare Advantage Plus Program, they said. That includes specialty hospitals such as Memorial Sloan-Kettering and the Hospital for Special Surgery, as well as most hospitals and doctors across the country.

Currently, municipal retirees have access to Medicare, the federal program that provides health insurance for people older than 65. The city pays retirees’ monthly premiums for Medicare Part B, which covers outpatient care. City funds also provide supplemental coverage for services not covered by traditional Medicare. Shifting retirees onto the new Medicare Advantage plan will cover the city’s contribution and save about $600 million annually, according to the mayor’s office.

The Municipal Labor Committee first agreed to work collaboratively with the mayor’s office to reduce ballooning health costs in 2014. The latest maneuver is part of a broader health care savings plan Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in June 2018.

Leading up to the Wednesday vote, the committee also sought to assure members that the plan under consideration would preserve existing benefits without raising individual costs.

“To ensure quality care and premium-free health coverage for our retirees, the MLC has developed our own group Medicare Advantage Plan—a plan unlike any other MA program in existence,” the labor committee said in materials sent to union leaders.

According to the documents, the savings would be generated through federal subsidies that are available exclusively to Medicare Advantage plans because they reduce the government’s administrative costs.

But some who will be affected by the change say they are wary of any plan under the “Medicare Advantage” label.

Across the country, Medicare Advantage enrollment has exploded in recent years, and many plans include benefits not covered by traditional Medicare. But a 2017 report from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that Medicare Advantage plans were not as widely accepted by doctors and hospitals. Another report from KFF released this year found that Medicare Advantage members are more likely to report cost-related problems than those enrolled in traditional Medicare with supplemental coverage.

Eber and other retirees who spoke to WNYC/Gothamist worried that any savings would stem from the Medicare Advantage plan delaying or denying coverage for necessary care.

Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers and executive vice-chairman of the Municipal Labor Committee, is among the prominent union leaders who support the switch. He has said that retirees’ comparisons of the city’s custom plan to other Medicare Advantage plans on the market are misguided.

Other union leaders raised concerns about the changes, however. James Davis, president of CUNY’s Professional Staff Congress, issued a statement Monday calling for the vote to be postponed because he didn’t have enough time to review information about the contract. (The request was denied.) He said he wasn’t provided a copy of the contract itself, but details of the new plan were provided to union leaders last Thursday.

“Our members are deeply troubled by the MLC’s rush to vote on this proposal,” Davis said in his statement Monday. He added, “This austerity measure opens the door to further cost-cutting and diminished benefits in future contracts.”

Leading up to the vote, WNYC/Gothamist was unable to get a comment on the protests over the proposed changes from Mulgrew or other leaders of the Municipal Labor Committee, including Harry Nespoli, president of the Local 831 Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association, and Henry Garrido, president of D.C. 37.

Following the vote, Nespoli issued a statement saying, “Maintaining our members’ access to premium-free health care is a key priority of the MLC, and today’s vote will help achieve that goal.”

The new plan will go into effect in January 2022.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Maspeth HS Principal Khurshid Abdul-Mutakabbir is Removed For Grade-Fixing and Other Charges of Academic Misconduct

Khurshid Abdul-Mutakabbir

Grade fixing is a city-wide problem. When principals have all the power over staff and employees in their school, and there is no accountability, then there is trouble.

What employees and staff in a school do not realize, is that their prosecution for any or no reason is part of the job for a principal. If a principal wants to get rid of someone, all he/she has to do is give an "Ineffective" rating on the observation report, create a meaningless Teacher Improvement Plan (TIP), and then either discontinue him/her or inform the lawyers at the District or at 52 Chambers Street that TAC memos must be created and the employee(s) charged with 3020-a, if the individual has tenure.

However, this takes a long time. If principals want to get the employee out faster, then all they have to do is have a child or staff member complain that they saw the unwanted educator verbally abusing a student or doing something to a child that they claim is abusive.

The educator will be removed from the school to a rubber room. This reassignment allows that person, if tenured, to remain on salary until a decision is made by an arbitrator at a disciplinary hearing called "3020-a", but as neither CSA nor NYSUT fully defend their members, termination is the usual result.

In order for principals to get away with whatever they want to make the school - of themselves - look good, they must instill fear in the people who work in their building. Fear is power. 

Except when whistleblowers care more about the kids than their careers.

SCI Report on Maspeth HS

Whistleblowers brought down Maspeth HS Principal Khurshid Abdul-Mutakabbir.

Even whistleblowing doesn't always work, as can be seen in the case of Pierre Orbe (pictured below), Tyree Chin, Richard Bost, David Fanning.

DeWitt Clinton Principal Charges Teachers With 3020-a If They Do Not Change 

Student Grades

Nothing happened to Orbe despite his continuous prosecution of teachers until he made a mistake that went outside of his authority and wrote something improper on his Facebook page:

After allegedly posting offensive content on Facebook, Bronx principal faces investigation

See also:

Holden: Grade fraud goes far beyond Maspeth

In sum, extorting grade changing and doing something abusive to a child (whether it is true or not)  is allowed inside the DOE until someone reports it to the police or an outside agency but NOT to the wholly-owned subsidiaries of the DOE, the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) or the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO). If a staff member reports to either of these agencies then the person who reported it is investigated.

Betsy Combier
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials

NYC DOE removes Maspeth HS principal for role in grade-fixing scandal

The Department of Education has removed a Queens principal for his role in a grade-fixing scandal first exposed by The Post in 2019, officials said Thursday.

The DOE said it will seek to terminate deposed Maspeth High School principal Khurshid Abdul-Mutakabbir after investigators substantiated a raft of academic misconduct charges against him.

A group of teachers told The Post in August 2019 that administrators pressured them to pass failing students and that staffers gave out Regents exam answers during the test.

Queens City Councilman Robert Holden led the charge against the misconduct at Maspeth and pressed officials to probe the school for several years.

“It’s good to finally see the principal removed, two years after I helped the Maspeth High School whistleblowers stand up to the corruption and intimidation and break the story,” Holden said. “They came to my office because they had nowhere else to turn. It has taken far too long, because neither the administration nor the DOE was in any hurry to investigate.”

The whistleblowers also reported that kids who did little to no work were graduated via phantom classes and credits.

The Queens Chronicle first reported Abdul-Mutakabbir’s removal Thursday.

“Following DOE’s investigation into Principal Abdul-Mutakabbir’s unacceptable behavior, DOE served him with disciplinary charges and removed him from payroll while we seek to terminate his employment pursuant to state law,” said DOE spokesperson Katie O’Hanlon.

Abdul-Mutakabbir has been removed from his post without pay and the DOE will now begin proceedings to terminate him outright.

“Our schools must have the highest standards of academic integrity, and we are working quickly to bring in new, qualified leadership to Maspeth High School.” O’Hanlon said.

Cynical students called their guaranteed graduations the “Maspeth Minimum,” and the school’s 99 percent graduation rate helped to land it a “Blue Ribbon Award.”

“Teachers are not allowed to fail students,” a staffer told the Post.

Staffers who refused to partake in the academic misconduct were targeted with trumped up disciplinary charges and other forms of retaliation, sources said.

Problematic students were allowed to skip class but still graduate because administrators wanted to maintain a strong passing rate, teachers said.

Holden cautioned that academic fraud is not limited to Maspeth.

“Grade fraud is a systemic problem throughout the city school system and we need state and federal agencies to investigate, including the U.S. Attorney, New York State and U.S. Departments of Education and the FBI. Our educators and our students deserve better,” he said.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

NYC Chancellor Meisha Porter's July 8, 2021 Letter To Parents


Meisha Porter, NYC Chancellor (on the left)

From the Editor:

Nice warm and fuzzy message that at this point is meaningless.

See other posts about Misha Porter, before she became Chancellor:

NYC Department of Education Execs Move Their Kids To "Whiter" Schools

Messages for Families

July 8, 2021: Letter to Families from Chancellor Porter

We made it! I hope you are all having a restful start to the summer. As you relax and reflect on the past year, we have been hard at work planning the year to come. The past year has presented us with unimaginable challenges, but also incredible opportunities for big change. 

I’ve been a DOE educator for more than 20 years, and I know that turning these opportunities into real change is the work of a whole community! So we talked to principals, teachers, central office staff, families, and students who shared their experiences over the last year—and their hopes for how we move forward.

Your voices were clear: We have a chance to make key changes to some very important parts of teaching and learning, in every grade. Right now, we can break down stubborn inequities and make sure that no matter what school your child enters, they are warmly welcomed, and met with the highest academic expectations—and that we are ready to help them achieve.

This year, healing will happen alongside rigorous academics. I want to share just a little bit about what will change this coming year, thanks to a $635 million investment in our academic comeback for our one million students. 

Before I do, I want to acknowledge that not every family feels the same way about returning to school in person. Many families are excited and ready for full-time reconnection for their children. Others feel anxious, or unsure about potential risks. I can promise you that your child’s health is our number one priority, now and always. We are opening full time for every student because we know we can protect their health and safety—and yours. And we know that being in school is critically important for your child’s growth and success. 

Our Academic Recovery Plan below explains some of how we are seizing this moment so your child can learn, heal, and thrive. More information will be posted on this summer. 

I am so excited for our homecoming on September 13 for every student—more excited than I’ve ever been in my two decades at the DOE. I am honored to share this journey with you and your child, and look forward to reconnecting as we approach the beginning of the school year. 

NYC Public Schools: What you will see in September

Your Child Will Feel Welcomed, and Helped to Heal from the Past Year 

Children in every community are carrying trauma caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A successful academic recovery can only happen when the emotional and mental health needs of students are also addressed. 

  • We will hire over 500 new social workers and other mental health support staff so that your child’s school has at least one social worker or school-based mental health clinic. 
  • We will begin adding over 130 new community schools to provide expanded social, emotional, academic, and extracurricular services in communities where they’re most needed. 

Your Child’s Literacy Skills Will Be a Priority 

Literacy and reading are absolutely fundamental to children’s ability to reach important milestones all along the educational journey. Our goal is to have every student reading on grade level by the end of 2nd grade. 

  • If you have a child in kindergarten through grade 2, their teachers will use a tool to identify strengths and challenges at the beginning of the year, and develop support plans tailored to their specific needs. 
  • Thousands of teachers in these grades will receive extra training to support literacy. 
  • 140 more teachers will be hired to reduce class sizes at 72 elementary schools with the specific goal of improving reading proficiency. 
  • We will bring the number of reading coaches in our successful Universal Literacy coaching program to 500 so every early childhood and K-2 classroom has one. 
  • In addition, we will give schools funding for targeted supports for students, such as, extended day and enrichment activities.

Your Child Will Grow Their Technological Skills 

This September, we will build on what we have learned about the benefits of technology. Students will develop digital skills to prepare them for the new economy. 

  • We will distribute an additional 175,000 devices so every K-12 student who needs one has access to one. 
  • We will launch an eighth-grade technology project for students to demonstrate their digital literacy skills. 
  • We will train 5,000 K-12 teachers to teach computer science coursework.
  • We will expand Computer Science for All, to support computational thinking, problem-solving, and digital skills for 400,000 students by 2024. 

More Special Education Support Will Be Available for Students with Disabilities 

The pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on our students with disabilities. The Academic Recovery Plan will make every resource available to better support students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), from our youngest learners to students preparing for graduation:

  • We will launch afterschool and Saturday programs for students with IEPs to receive additional instruction and related services. 
  • We will add 800 Special Education Pre-K seats and expand Committees on Preschool Special Education to review more IEP requests. 
  • We will provide eligible students ages 21+ with either continued instruction toward their diploma or other credential, or consultation about plans for college and career readiness. 
  • We will also continue to provide family workshops and information sessions through our Beyond Access Series, which supports families of students with disabilities by providing sessions on topics related to special education. 

More Language Support Will Be Available to Multilingual Learners 

Multilingual learners (MLs) and immigrant families are valued and supported at DOE. We will provide culturally responsive supports that give students and their families equitable access to resources and opportunities that help students succeed inside and outside the classroom. 

  • We will establish Immigrant Ambassador Programs across 30 high schools to match immigrant DOE students with college students for mentorship. 
  • Schools will be provided resources to purchase print and digital books in students’ home languages, and build home language libraries. 
  • We will provide teachers with training that is specific to the language needs of multilingual learners and immigrant students. 
  • We will conduct wellness checks and deliver social-emotional learning support to multilingual learners, particularly in transitioning to full time in-person learning. 
  • We will expand the Postsecondary Readiness for ELLs Program (PREP), to be facilitated by a select group of school counselors and educators. 

Your Child Will Get Ready for College and Career

Especially as our students heal from the pandemic, we need to make sure they are better prepared for the next step in life, whether it’s college or career. 

  • We will deliver free, personalized college counseling for every junior and senior after school so that every student has a post-graduation plan. This includes launching Student Success Centers for 34 high schools. 
  • We will offer Universal College Financial Aid Guidance in multiple languages, to help navigate the application process. 
  • We will add new Advanced Placement or College Now courses so tens of thousands more students have access to college-level coursework. 

Your Child Will Learn Challenging Material That Reflects Who They Are 

Children are more engaged in class when they can see themselves in their lessons and materials. We are committed to reflecting the city’s “beautiful mosaic” of cultures and histories in curriculum. 

  • In the fall, your child’s school will receive an infusion of books that reflect the variety of histories, languages, and experiences that make up the city. 
  • The DOE will begin work on universal, rigorous, and inclusive English Language Arts (ELA) and Math curricula that will be shared by New York City’s 1,600 schools and one million students. It will be built on investments in literacy and will challenge students to move beyond their academic comfort zones. 
  • The DOE will begin developing brand new support materials for ELA, Math, Arts and more, developed by New York City educators for New York City students.