May 25, 2022 By Christian Murray
Disgruntled parents will be holding a “listening session” Thursday to discuss the four candidates vying to be the next Superintendent for District 30 schools in western Queens.
The meeting this Thursday has been organized by the District 30 Community Education Council in the wake of the Department of Education’s town hall Zoom meeting Friday, where parents got to hear from the four candidates looking to be the next superintendent. Many parents, however, argue that they were given little opportunity to ask the candidates questions or to provide feedback.
The townhall last Friday was part of the Chancellor David Bank’s new policy of making superintendents reapply for their positions as he looks to expand the role.
The DOE initially selected three finalists for the District 30 role, which did not include the existing Superintendent Dr, Philip Composto. However, after facing fierce criticism when Composto was initially rejected, the DOE made him the fourth finalist and decided to make all incumbent superintendents finalists in their respective school districts.
The candidates were introduced to the parents last Friday as part of the job process. However, many parents are calling for Composto to be reappointed, upset that the DOE is likely to oust him. The chancellor, however, will ultimately make the appointment and says the decision will factor in feedback from parents.
“When I make the final determination of who will serve all students in each district, that decision will combine the passionate feedback of parents and community members and each candidate’s ability to articulate a comprehensive vision for the future,” Banks said last week.
Deborah Alexander, a District 30 Community Education Council member, said that the DOE’s meeting on Friday was billed as a townhall, yet the CEC’s request for an open chat feature was rejected just prior to the event.
She said that the rejection undermined the DOE’s pledge saying it would listen to parents.
“The trust in the DOE is just eroding,” Alexander said. “The Chancellor says yes, we want to hear from parents, and we want to respect your wishes—yet does this to the chat.”
The closure prohibited community members from commenting and asking questions until the end of the meeting.
Alexander said that the meeting Friday was a big disappointment. She said that parents were not informed about the meeting until last Tuesday and that it was held on a Friday at 5 p.m.
She said that other school districts have two candidates in the running for superintendent giving parents a great ability to ask questions and assess the candidates. Meanwhile, with four candidates, there is less time to evaluate each one of them.
Alexander said that the CEC has therefore decided to hold a meeting Thursday in order for parents to discuss Friday’s forum.
“We have 40,000 families in district 30 and we want parents and educators to have time to tell us what they think and what they think of the candidates.”