The labor union representing New York City public school principals has passed a vote of no-confidence in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s stewardship in reopening the school system, and asked the state to take over "for the remainder of this health crisis."
In a unanimous vote Sunday by its executive board, the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators union, which represents more than 6,400 school leaders, criticized de Blasio and his schools chancellor, Richard Carranza, "due to their failure to lead New York City through the safe and successful reopening of schools," according to a union news release.
The school system, which de Blasio closed beginning in March as the coronavirus pandemic began to ramp up in the city, has struggled to fulfill his pledge to reopen and serve students for in-person learning during at least part of each week.
"CSA calls on Mayor de Blasio to cede mayoral control of the Department of Education for the remainder of this health crisis and for Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza to seek the immediate intervention of the New York State Education Department," the release said.
Representatives of de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo could not be reached.
The city’s schools reopening has been abruptly delayed twice, with buildings now set to open for the vast majority of the city’s 1.1 million public school students beginning on Sept. 29, with some students attending in person part of the week and online the remainder, and others’ families opting for online-only.
The union has argued that there aren’t enough teaching personnel to staff the schools, since classroom head counts of students must be a fraction of the usual size due to the need for social distance to limit the virus’ spread.
De Blasio also agreed that no teacher would teach both in person and online, thinning the available teacher ranks even further. Earlier this month, de Blasio agreed to hire 4,500 extra personnel — including graduate students and substitute teachers — but the CSA has maintained that even more personnel are needed.
In mid-September, CSA president Mark Cannizzaro said the additional staffing was sufficient — but only for the reopening of the younger classes. "The 4,500 number is to get through the 29th with the K-to-5 group," he said then, adding that there would be additional need for the middle and high schools.
United Federation of Teachers spokeswoman Alison Gendar said in a statement: "Since last spring, the UFT has pointed out the need for additional staff if schools were to re-open safely while observing social distancing. The current agreement is designed to staff the schools in a safe manner, and the city has committed to hiring and redeploying enough qualified educators to meet this challenge."