The leaders of New York City’s principals’ union over the weekend unanimously passed a vote of no confidence in the way Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza has handled the reopening of schools, demanding them to relinquish the process to the state.
The Saturday vote came after the city’s education department reached a deal with teachers’ union to allow staff who aren’t responsible for teaching students in person to work from home rather than reporting to their school buildings—another last-minute change made without the consent of school administrators, who argued that doing so would make the effort to staff their schools even more difficult than it was already.
In a lengthy resolution, the Council of Schools Supervisors & Administrators (CSA) said all the last-minute switches in de Blasio’s school reopening plans over the past month have effectively caused a shortage of an estimated 20,000 teachers, yet the city’s education department is only pushing principals to lie about the mounting problem.
“CSA members have reported that district superintendents have verbally pressured them to falsely report that their staffing needs are already met after they requested additional staff due to safety concerns,” the CSA said, accusing de Blasio and his team of lacking transparency in their handling of a staffing crisis they created.
Mark Cannizzaro, president of the CSA, said on Sunday that de Blasio and Carranza should seek immediate intervention of the New York State Education Department.
“The mayor and the chancellor may have made too many mistakes right now and we need them to reconsider,” said Cannizzaro during a press conference. “Too many repeated errors occurred, and we need to be able to do better by our folks and do better by our children.”
According to Cannizzaro, the last-minute deal between the de Blasio administration and the teachers’ union has pushed the frustration of principals to breaking point. He said his organization, which represents 6,400 school leaders, was never consulted about it.
“We had no knowledge that MOU [memorandum of understanding] was signed and about to be released,” he said. “We were disappointed that the mayor and chancellor didn’t share the agreement with us before it was out there.”
The staffing crisis has forced New York City to delay reopening school buildings for the second time. De Blasio said on Sept. 17 that the return of in-person learning was not going to happen on Sept. 21 as planned. Under the current plan, preschool students and students with special needs will begin attending in-person classes on Sept. 21, with middle school and high school to open for in-person classes on Oct. 1.