BAYSIDE, NY — Northeast Queens elected officials announced today that they are calling on Chancellor Richard A. Carranza to hold a public meeting on school safety. This demand follows a January 16th Department of Education Town Hall meeting in District 26, in which the Chancellor failed to address questions and concerns about reported incidents of sexual assault and violence at MS 158Q Marie Curie.
In a letter to Chancellor Carranza dated January 20, 2020, the elected officials called it “inconceivable” that he did not address the serious questions about school safety at MS 158Q. The elected officials demanded that Chancellor Carranza schedule an evening public meeting as soon as possible to address the misconduct, and they referenced a prior letter sent earlier in the month outlining several open questions about the DOE’s protocols in handling sexual assault in schools.
“Our students, parents and teachers deserve answers from the Department of Education when it comes to school safety,” said State Senator John Liu, Chair of the NYS Senate Committee on NYC Education. “It was simply shocking that Chancellor Carranza could hold a town hall meeting without ever addressing serious questions and concerns about reported incidents of assault and sexual harassment. Chancellor Carranza must return to District 26 in short order and have a constructive dialogue with our community about these critical matters. It will be difficult for him to restore any trust without doing so.”
“I would never get up and abruptly walk out of a meeting like Chancellor Carranza did,” said Congresswoman Grace Meng. “Parents were not grandstanding. They were justifiably angry because they don’t believe their kids are safe in school. By leaving, the chancellor failed to adequately address their concerns. Chancellor Carranza must immediately schedule another meeting in District 26.”
“The recent reports of sexual assault and violence at MS 158 are alarming and require an in person response from the Chancellor,” said Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein. “At the CDEC 26 Town Hall Meeting on January 16th, Chancellor Carranza failed to address community concerns and instead displayed a shocking lack of empathy by dismissing the parents of assault victims as ‘grandstanding.’ I join with my colleagues in demanding that Chancellor Carranza return to CDEC 26 and directly answer questions from MS 158 families regarding these troubling incidents.”
“Families deserve peace of mind in knowing that their children’s education and well-being are of the utmost priority and that no effort is spared to ensure their safety in the classroom,” said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic. “The situation unfolding at M.S. 158 Marie Curie sends an alarming message of instability and the lack of direct communication from the DOE with parents is unacceptable. Chancellor Carranza failed to take the opportunity at last week’s town hall to provide clarity and we urge him to return immediately to address parents and students who deserve answers.”
“Every student and every family expects a safe and nurturing environment at school,” said Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik. “It is my hope that the chancellor will return to Northeast Queens in the near future to listen to our concerns and discuss how the education department will meet our expectations.”
“Parents and administrators are right to demand answers from the Department of Education regarding its handling of school safety issues, and as the steward of the DOE, Chancellor Carranza is obligated to address these concerns,” said Council Member Peter Koo. “I join my colleagues in calling on the Chancellor to return to clear the air regarding the very serious safety and accountability concerns brought to light at MS 158Q.”
“Hundreds of parents and teachers looking for answers about the recent disturbing incidents that have taken place at MS 158 showed up for the Chancellor’s Town Hall in District 26, but they were instead turned away feeling more frustrated and confused,” said Council Member Paul Vallone. “I join my fellow elected officials in demanding Chancellor Carranza promptly return to District 26 to a provide clear answers on DOE school safety and reporting protocols and an immediate action plan for the troubled MS 158. Protecting our City’s children must always be our highest priority.”
The text of the correspondence is below.
January 20, 2020
Chancellor Richard A. Carranza
New York City Department of Education
52 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007
Dear Chancellor Carranza:
We write to request that you hold an evening public meeting in Community School District 26 to address our community’s serious questions regarding school safety.
At the January 16, 2020 District 26 town hall, you left the event early when confronted with questions about school safety: specifically, the ongoing issues at MS 158. This lack of response has left our community frustrated and upset, and frankly, it is inconceivable that these important questions about safety were not addressed at all. Our students, parents, and teachers deserve to know how the Department of Education is handling this problem, and furthermore, the Department of Education should listen to and respond to feedback from the community affected by these serious issues.
We are ready to help organize and facilitate a public meeting. This meeting should happen in the evening, so that parents can attend; you, as the head of the New York City Department of Education, should be there to answer questions; and this meeting should occur as soon as possible. Further, for your reference, attached is the letter that northeast Queens elected officials sent to you last week. We ask that the questions we raised in this letter be addressed at this meeting.
We look forward to your prompt response.
John Liu, NYS Senator
Grace Meng, Member of Congress
Edward Braunstein, NYS Assembly Member
Nily Rozic, NYS Assembly Member
Barry S. Grodenchik, NYC Council Member
Peter Koo, NYC Council Member
Paul Vallone, NYC Council Member