NEW YORK CITY — A New York City principals union is calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to relinquish control of public schools over what members say has been a failed start to the academic year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Executive Board of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, which represents over 6,400 New York City school leaders, unanimously declared a vote of “no confidence” on Sunday.
The CSA believes de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza have failed to lead the city through a safe and successful reopening process.
“School leaders want school buildings reopened and have been tirelessly planning to welcome back students since the end of last school year,” CSA President Mark Cannizzaro said in a statement. “They must now look staff, parents, and children in the eye and say that they have done all they can to provide a safe and quality educational experience, but given the limited resources provided them, this is becoming increasingly difficult.”
The union is calling on de Blasio and Carranza to seek assistance from the state Department of Education for the remainder of the coronavirus pandemic.
“During this health crisis, school leaders have lost trust and faith in Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza to support them in their immense efforts and provide them with the guidance and staffing they need,” Cannizzaro said. “Quite simply, we believe the city and DOE need help from the state Education Department, and we hope that the mayor soon realizes why this is necessary.”
City Department of Education Press Secretary Miranda Barbot responded to the no confidence vote Sunday afternoon.
“For the past six months, we’ve worked with our labor partners to navigate completely uncharted waters and accomplish our shared goal of serving students this fall,” Barbot said. “We’ll continue this work to guarantee a safe, health and successful opening for all. This week, more kids will be safely sitting in New York City classrooms than in any other major American city — a testament to city leadership and our educators’ commitment to their students, and the importance of in-person education.”
A request for comment from the mayor’s office was not returned Sunday.
The mayor and schools chancellor have faced harsh criticism from unions, parents and teachers over the reopening of school buildings, which has been delayed twice.
As the city continues to prepare for elementary school students to begin blended learning on Tuesday, with middle and high school students to follow on Oct. 1, the United Federation of Teachers union said on Friday that they are still short of some-2,000 educators needed to safely reopen.
Schools were shut down last March and students transitioned to remote for the remainder of the academic year to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Initially, de Blasio and Carranza said all schools would be ready to reopen for the new academic year with a weekly mix of in-person and remote learning, known as blended learning, by Sept. 10.
However, several days before the start of the school year, the date was pushed back to Sept. 21 amid growing concerns that teachers and buildings were not fully prepared.
The mayor and schools chancellor delayed reopening most school buildings again on Sept. 17. Instead, buildings are reopening on a phased schedule based on grade level.
In the meantime, students have been learning via remote instruction. Students who opted for the city’s all-remote program began the school year on Sept. 21.