Outgoing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is trying to leave behind him a rule that could potentially silence parents who criticize school board policies, according to two parents and board leaders.
In an op-ed published in The New York Post, Maud Maron and Danyela Souza Egorov said that a proposed regulation would allow the Department of Education (DOE) to “discipline and remove” parents elected to Community Education Councils (CEC)—New York City’s equivalent to a school board—if they “criticize the school district they are meant to hold accountable.” Maron is a former president of the CEC in District 2, and Danyela Souza Egorov is its vice president.
The proposed Chancellor’s Regulation D-210, which will be weighed by the DOE’s Panel for Educational Policy on Dec. 21, prohibits council members from engaging in conduct that “serves to harass, intimidate, or threaten.” Such conduct includes but is not limited to “frequent verbal abuse and unnecessary aggressive speech that serves to intimidate and causes others to have concern for their personal safety.”
The criteria used to determine what counts as a violation is vague, Maron and Egorov argued. The rule doesn’t explain how frequent is frequent or what kind of speech is unnecessary or aggressive. On top of that, an “Equity Compliance Officer” would be established to enforce the rule.
“This (no doubt expensive) bureaucrat would be charged with deciding who to target for removal for violating the newly expanded ‘code of conduct,'” they wrote, calling it “yet another administrative position to monitor parents.”
In addition, the regulation allows the chancellor to request a CEC member be removed if the member’s conduct is deemed “contrary to the best interest of the New York City school district.” The op-ed authors also noted that conduct happening outside of CEC meetings or public appearances could also serve as a basis for a complaint and removal, as long as the conduct “creates or would foreseeably create a risk of disruption within the district or school community.”
“Even worse, an Equity Council, a team of DOE-appointed apparatchiks, would be tasked with providing recommendations on the resolutions of complaints—in other words who to remove and silence,” they wrote. In the event of a disagreement between the Equity Compliance Officer and the Equity Council, the recommendation of the Equity Compliance Officer shall govern, according to the proposed regulation.
Maron and Egorov also pointed out that this set of new rules is rolled out just after parents “flipped” some councils by voting individuals who are “very vocal about holding their districts accountable.” They believe it is “clearly meant to shield the DOE from any and all criticism from duly elected council members.”
“Calling parents ‘domestic terrorists’ did not work to silence parents at school-board meetings,” they said, referencing a widely criticized letter characterizing concerned parents’ actions as domestic terrorism. “Trying to do an end-run around democratically elected parent leaders should not be allowed either.”
The Epoch Times has reached out to Egorov and the DOE for comments. Maron could not be immediately reached at press time.