NEW YORK (AP) — The union representing New York City’s school principals called Sunday for the state to take control of the school system from the mayor for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic as hundreds of thousands of children are set to report back to classrooms this week.
The Council of School Supervisors and Administrators declared a unanimous vote of “no confidence” in Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza over their handling of safely reopening the nation’s largest school district.
“All summer long, we’ve been running into roadblock after roadblock, with changing guidance, confusing guidance — often no guidance,” Council President Mark Cannizzaro said in a conference call with reporters.
Cannizzaro stopped short of saying a strike was on the table. “We’re right now in the middle of a pandemic. Our kids need us,” he said.
The mayor has twice delayed the start of in-person classes and most of the city’s 1.1 million students have started the school year remotely. Elementary school students are set to return to classrooms Tuesday, with middle and high school students returning on Thursday.
Earlier in the summer, the teachers union said schools weren’t ready to open because of safety issues such as outdated ventilation systems and lack of school nurses. But after most of its safety demands were met, the union now supports the city’s reopening plan.
The principals union has warned of a major staffing crisis created by a deal in August between the de Blasio administration and the United Federation of Teachers that mandated schools create three groups of teachers — one to handle all-remote students, another to teach hybrid students in the classroom and a third to teach hybrid students at home. On Friday, the city made another agreement, allowing more teachers to work from home if they’re teaching students learning at home.
In its no-confidence resolution, the principals union said the mayor and chancellor “have entered into grossly irresponsible staffing agreements that fail to prioritize the needs of school children and their families.”
De Blasio’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday. A spokeswoman for the state Education Department said the department is “aware of the situation” and is “monitoring New York City’s reopening.”