Thursday, December 1, 2016

Additional Guidance for Principals Concerning New SLT Meetings Policy

Additional Guidance For Principals Concerning New Policy for SLT Meetings Because of a recent appellate court decision, SLT meetings must now be open to the public and subject to the Open Meetings Law. This means that SLTs must allow members of the general public and the press to attend their meetings, in addition to members of the school community, and new procedures must be implemented. Below is a list of the new procedures and instructions on how to implement them. 1. Public Notice of Meetings: SLT meetings must be scheduled at least one week before the meeting takes place. In addition, notice of the time and place of SLT meetings must be given to the public and to the news media at least 72 hour prior to the meeting. A member of the SLT will be responsible for posting the meeting notice on the school’s website and also posting it in a conspicuous place in the school building. Family Leadership Coordinators (FLCs) and Family Support Coordinators (FSCs) will be responsible for sending notice of the SLTS meetings to the news media, which can be a local news station, such as NY1, and/or a local newspaper. The notice must state the date, time and location of the SLT meetings. 2. Minutes: SLTs must prepare minutes of topics discussed at each meeting, including any proposals made or items decided upon through consensus-based decision-making. Minutes must be made available to the public in accordance with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) within two weeks of the meeting. Minutes that are taken during “executive sessions” (see below) should include a record of any final decisions made and must be completed and made available within one week of the date of the meeting. If the SLT minutes have not been finalized or approved by the SLT by this time, the Open Meetings Law requires that the minutes be marked “Draft”, “Not Approved”, or “Not Final”, and made available in this format if requested under FOIL. For all minutes, material that is exempted from disclosure by law, such as student information/records protected under the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) or information that would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy under the Public Officers Law, will be redacted by the DOE’s Office of Legal Services prior to release of the minutes in response to FOIL requests. 3. Executive Session: If discussions at the SLT meeting concern the following topics, the SLT should go into “executive session,” meaning that the SLT members should remove themselves from the public meeting to a private room (out of view and earshot of the public and the press):  Matters that could imperil the public safety (such as School Safety Plans)  Matters that disclose the identity of a law enforcement agent or informer  Information relating to current or future investigations (such as SCI, OSI, OEO or School-Based Investigations)  Discussions regarding proposed or pending litigation (including cases pending in courts or administrative agencies, such as the State Division of Human Rights)  Matters involving the preparation, grading or administration of examinations. In order to go into executive session, someone on the SLT must make a motion to do so, by saying something like, “This is a matter that requires us to go into executive session because School Safety Plans, which involve the safety of our students and school community, will be discussed.” The SLT must then take a vote to on whether to go into executive session. If a majority agree that the SLT should do so, the SLT should leave the room and go to a private space to have a discussion about the topic. Once the discussion has been completed, the SLT should return to the regular public meeting and continue that meeting. 4. The Role of the General Public at SLT Meetings: There is no requirement that the general public be allowed to speak at SLT meetings; there is only the requirement that the public be allowed to attend and observe the meetings. The SLT may choose to allow members of the public to speak but, if it does so, it must treat everyone equally, letting anyone who wishes to speak to do so. The SLT can adopt rules to ensure fairness (e.g., allowing any member of the public to speak for a certain period of time). 5. Photographs and Recordings: The general public and the press may record the meeting (by photograph, audio, video, or digital means). The SLT may adopt rules concerning the use of recording devices so as to prevent disruption of the meeting. For example, rules may require that people who use cameras to take pictures must remain in the back of the room, and if recording equipment is used, it must be silent so as not to disrupt the meeting. If rules are created, they should be conspicuously posted during the meetings and written copies should be provided upon request to attendees. The SLT is not required to record or transmit its meetings by audio, video or webcast. As noted in previous editions of Principals’ Weekly, the New York State Appellate Division recently issued a decision ruling that School Leadership Team (SLT) meetings must be open to the general public and comply with the requirements of the Open Meetings Law. You should note the following change in procedure for giving public notice to the news media concerning the date, time, and location of SLT meetings: Change in Procedure for Giving Public Notice of SLT Meetings: Family Leadership Coordinators and Family Support Coordinators (changed from Field Support Centers in the previous announcement) will be responsible for sending notice of SLT meetings to the news media, which can be a local news station, such as NY1, or a local newspaper. To facilitate this procedure, you or your designee must send the schedule of SLT meetings to your Family Leadership Coordinator and Family Support Coordinator, so that they can send notice of the meetings to the news media. The information that you send must include the date, time and location of the SLT meetings. The coordinators will then provide notice to the news media at least 72 hours prior to each meeting, provided the meeting has been scheduled at least a week in advance. If the SLT meeting date, time or location changes, you should notify your Family Leadership Coordinator and Family Support Coordinator as soon as possible, so that they can notify the media of the change. You or a designee must post a notice of the SLT meeting on your school’s website and also post it in a conspicuous place in the school building. You should review additional guidance on the new policy for SLT meetings in this guidance document. For questions, contact your Senior Field Counsel. __._,_.___

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Public Notice for SLT Meetings

From Principals Weekly. Dates of meetings must be posted on school websites. Update to Guidance on New Policy for SLT Meetings: Change in Procedure for Giving Public Notice to the Media School Type: All schools Workflow Subcategory: Family/Community Engagement As noted in previous editions of Principals’ Weekly, the New York State Appellate Division recently issued a decision ruling that School Leadership Team (SLT) meetings must be open to the general public and comply with the requirements of the Open Meetings Law. You should note the following change in procedure for giving public notice to the news media concerning the date, time, and location of SLT meetings: Change in Procedure for Giving Public Notice of SLT Meetings: Family Leadership Coordinators and Family Support Coordinators (changed from Field Support Centers in the previous announcement) will be responsible for sending notice of SLT meetings to the news media, which can be a local news station, such as NY1, or a local newspaper. To facilitate this procedure, you or your designee must send the schedule of SLT meetings to your Family Leadership Coordinator and Family Support Coordinator, so that they can send notice of the meetings to the news media. The information that you send must include the date, time and location of the SLT meetings. The coordinators will then provide notice to the news media at least 72 hours prior to each meeting, provided the meeting has been scheduled at least a week in advance. If the SLT meeting date, time or location changes, you should notify your Family Leadership Coordinator and Family Support Coordinator as soon as possible, so that they can notify the media of the change. You or a designee must post a notice of the SLT meeting on your school’s website and also post it in a conspicuous place in the school building. You should review additional guidance on the new policy for SLT meetings in this guidance document. For questions, contact your Senior Field Counsel. -- Francesco A. Portelos

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Checking Up On Your SLT

Now that the Open Meetings Law has been confirmed for School Leadership Teams, parent and school leaders should be monitoring their teams to make sure they are focused on the development of the CEP and their budget responsibilities. They should drop in on teams unannounced and observe what is happening. Chances are you will find that teams are not engaged in their duties and unaware of their responsibilities due to lack of training. When you observe, remember to pick up the agenda for the meeting. You also have a right to receive the minutes of the meeting. By these means, we can pressure principals to develop functioning SLTs according to law. However, the question is,do parents and school leaders realize the importance of functioning SLTs in school governance? James Calantjis sltsupport.blogspot.com -----Original Message----- From: 'Leonie Haimson' leoniehaimson@gmail.com [nyceducationnews] To: Nyceducationnews@Yahoogroups.com Cc: changethestakes-open-forum ; cts-internal Sent: Mon, Nov 14, 2016 5:08 pm Subject: [nyceducationnews] What's the story on School Leadership Teams and their meetings? A fact sheet for parents and members of the public. https://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com/2016/11/whats-story-on-school-leadership-team.html Leonie Haimson Executive Director Class Size Matters 1 24 Waverly Pl. New York, NY 10011 phone: 212-529-3539/917-435-9329 leonie@classsizematters.org www.classsizematters.org

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

New SLT Open Meetings Policy

DOE Sets New School Leadership (SLT) Policy New Policy for SLT Meetings All schools Workflow Subcategory: Family/Community Engagement Recently, the New York State Appellate Division issued a decision ruling that School Leadership Team (SLT) meetings must be open to the general public and comply with the requirements of the Open Meetings Law. Effective immediately, SLTs must allow members of the general public and the press to be admitted to their meetings, in addition to members of the school community. If certain confidential topics are discussed, the SLT should go into “executive session,” meaning that the SLT should move to a private room (out of earshot of the public and the press). During the next few weeks, principals will receive training from their Senior Field Counsel on how to comply with the requirements of the Open Meetings Law. Training will include directions for complying with the following requirements: Public Notice of Meetings: Public notice of the time and place of SLT meetings must be provided at least one week prior to the meeting. Notice must also be given to the news media and posted in one or more public locations, including on the school’s website, at least 72 hours before the meeting. Disclosure of Minutes: The SLT should prepare minutes of topics discussed at SLT meetings, including any proposals or items decided upon through consensus. Upon request, minutes shall be made available to the public in accordance with the provisions of FOIL within two weeks from the date of the meeting. Minutes that are taken during executive sessions should include the date and consist of a record or summary of any determination or final action that is taken. Upon request, minutes from the executive session shall be made available to the public in accordance with the provisions of FOIL within one week from the date of the meeting. § Executive Session: SLTs should go into executive session and remove themselves from the public meeting to discuss certain confidential topics, such as School Safety Plans, preparation or administration of examinations, current or future investigations, or proposed or pending litigation. If you have questions about this policy and these procedures, please contact your Senior Field Counsel.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

NY Appellate Court Affirms School Leadership Team Meetings are Open to the Public

NY Appellate Court Affirms School Leadership Team Meetings are Open to the Public In a rebuke to the NYC Department of Education, which began closing School Leadership Team (SLT) meetings to the public in 2013, a New York appellate court has found that closing the meetings violates the state’s Open Meetings Law. In a decision released today, the New York Appellate Division, First Department found for the petitioner, Michael P. Thomas, and the intervenors, Public Advocate Letitia James and Class Size Matters, that SLT meetings must be open to the public. Contrary to the DOE’s claims, the Court held that SLTs are governmental bodies that have decision-making authority under state law. The SLT helps formulate "school-based educational policies" and ensure that "resources are aligned to implement those policies,” wrote the Court. Thus, SLT meetings must be subject to the Open Meetings Law. The Court rejected DOE’s contention that SLTs, composed half of school staff and half parents, have only advisory powers and thus their meetings could be closed. On March 17, 2014, retired teacher Michael P. Thomas asked the Chair of the SLT and the Principal Linda Hill of IS 49 on Staten Island to attend their meeting. The Chair invited him but later rescinded her invitation, and barred him from entering the meeting when he arrived at the school on April 1, 2014. On May 17, 2014, Mr. Thomas commenced an article 78 proceeding, and the Public Advocate and Class Size Matters subsequently intervened on behalf of parents and the public at large, represented pro bono by Advocates for Justice and New York Lawyers for Public Interest. On April 21, 2015, Supreme Court Judge Peter Moulton ruled that "SLT meetings entail a public body performing governmental functions," and thus are "subject to the Open Meetings Law." He concluded that “the proper functioning of public schools is a public concern, not a private concern limited to the families who attend a given public school." Chancellor Carmen Farina instructed principals to ignore this decision, and filed a Notice of Appeal on May 22, 2015. The Appellate Court heard arguments from both sides on January 21, 2016. Upon learning today that he had won the case, Michael P. Thomas said, "It was a long wait, but well worthwhile to read the court’s decision. Opening SLT meetings will allow the public to observe first-hand the effects of problems plaguing our schools, including underfunding, overcrowding, and poor budgetary priorities. The Court's affirming that SLTs are more than advisory in nature demonstrates that these bodies have real decision-making power. Unfortunately, in too many cases, principals have improperly usurped the power given to SLTs in state law. Hopefully, the Court's decision will be the first step in helping to resolve the many problems in our public schools." “Today’s ruling is a victory for parents, students, educators and all of us who believe in transparency and accountability at the Department of Education,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “After years of having their voices drowned out in the school system, parents are being heard again. Important decisions about our schools must be made in sunlight with input from parents and teachers.” “We are delighted that the First Department confirmed in a unanimous opinion the public’s right to attend these very important School Leadership Team meetings,” said Laura D. Barbieri, of counsel to Advocates for Justice Legal Foundation, representing the Public Advocate Letitia James, and Class Size Matters. “The Department of Education must comply with the Open Meetings Law and can no longer exclude the media or concerned citizens who have a right to know what is going on in their neighborhood public schools.” Said Rachel Spector, Director of the Environmental Justice Program at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, which represented Class Size Matters: “The court’s decision affirms that when public schools make decisions, they must be transparent: public schools cannot act in secret. We are pleased that members of the public can now attend School Leadership Team meetings without fear of being turned away at the door. This is an important step forward and serves as a reminder to the Department of Education that community participation is crucial to the success of New York City public schools." “The law is crystal clear that School Leadership Teams are public bodies, with an important governmental role to play. Parents and the public have a crucial stake in SLT decisions, when it comes to class size, the use of technology, or any other school-based policies. Both the Supreme Court and now the Appellate Court have ruled that these meetings must be open to the community at large. Any attempt by the DOE or principals to ignore this decision, subvert it or appeal to a higher court would be unwise, would further delay the public interest and would waste precious taxpayer funds that are far better used in improving our schools,” concluded Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters. The Appellate Court’s decision is posted here: http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2016/2016_06989.htm Additional background on School Leadership Teams, along with a timeline and links to legal briefs and news articles, is posted here: http://www.classsizematters.org/parent-empowerment/

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

There is no grass root support for reforming School Leadership Teams among parents, teachers, educators, politicians, etc. This has been a missed opportunity to really involve parents and teachers in the school governance process through shared decision making. The NYCDOE has been successful in undermining the authority of Teams under the law to develop the school's CEP and to be actively involved in the school budget process. If anyone would like to contact me, please do so at calantjis@aol.com. James Calantjis

Thursday, December 17, 2015

SLT Biennial Survey for Members of SLTs - Give honest feedback

Chancellor's Parent Advisory Council Biennial SLT Survey deadline extended until next Wednesday! The deadline for completing the Biennial SLT survey was extended until Wednesday, December 23rd. If you are a member of your School Leadership Team and didn't have a chance to complete the survey, please take a moment to fill it out -- and let other members of your team know about the extension as well!. We are also asking that all Presidents' Council presidents pass this email along to their memberships. As a reminder, the Biennial SLT Survey takes place every other year. Responses are completely confidential. Although the survey asks for your school, this is a check to ensure you have the correct district and is not required. The final report includes only district level results and is used by your District Leadership Teams to help them understand how SLTs are functioning in your districts and to help them better target their training. So please complete the survey honestly. If you are a member of your SLT and have not received a link -- either from FACE or from your school -- you should contact your school principal, your parent coordinator, or your district Parent Leadership Coordinator (formerly DFA). If you are a member of your high school SLT, please contact your principal, your parent coordinator, or your superintendent's Parent Leadership Coordinator. If you have any problems completing the survey, please let FACE know! Thanks for helping to improve our schools!