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The NYSED Board of Regents met yesterday in Albany for its monthly P-12 committee meeting to vote on two charter mergers, discuss strategy for the 2019-20 school year, and vote on revisions to multiple sections of the Regulations of The Commissioner of Education.

Charter School Mergers
The Board voted in favor of two proposed charter mergers:

  • The “KIPP New York City Public Charter Schools II” education corporation was merged into the “KIPP New York City Public Charter Schools” education corporation. The merged KIPP New York City Public Charter Schools now holds charters for 7 existing schools.
  • The “Democracy Prep Endurance Charter School” education corporation was merged into the “Democracy Prep New York Charter Schools” education corporation. The merged Democracy Prep New York Charter Schools now holds charters for 5 existing schools.

Regent Johnson sought clarification on the merger and inquired about accountability standards. In response, it was noted that the new authorizer (SUNY) would hold each charter school individually accountable as required by law. Regents Collins and Mitler abstained from voting.

Amendments to Regulations
Following Regent Young’s initial remarks on 2019-2020 priorities, the Board voted on the following amendments to regulations:

  • The Board voted in favor of a proposed amendment to Section 155.17 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education Relating to School Safety Plans, which would require schools to define the roles and responsibility of their school safety officers.
  • The Board voted in favor of a proposed addition to Section 175.5 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education. This provision would allow a district to request a waiver of instructional time requirements and receive a four year period to phase in requirements. This provision comes as a response to information received from districts having difficulty implementing the instructional time regulations as they are currently stated. Specifically, the waiver opportunity will benefit certain school districts that cannot meet the minimum instructional hours because of safety and/or scheduling issues.
  • The Board voted in favor of a proposed amendment to Section 104.3 of the Commissioner’s Regulations relating to assessments and official student transcripts. In 2014 the state legislature enacted a statute prohibiting schools from placing or including state assessment scores on official transcripts for students in Grade 3-8. These provisions were set to expire on December 31, 2019, yet this year’s enacted budget permanently extends these provisions. The Board voted to extend the April emergency adoption until it can be adopted as a permanent rule effective July 31, 2019.

Discussion: Board Priorities for 2019-20
At the start of the meeting, Regent Young highlighted the importance of setting Board priorities, particularly among the P-12 Committee, going into the 2019-2020 school year. Regent Young spoke critically of the Board and cited their lack of policy development and follow through, and urged them to adopt a more proactive approach as a whole. Regent Collins echoed these sentiments as she championed Regent Young’s suggestions and called for all sub-committees to produce a similar list of priorities.

Additional Discussion Items
An update of Part 121 to the Regulations of the Commissioner Relating to Strengthening Data Privacy and Security in NY State Educational Agencies to Protect Personally Identifiable Information (PII) was presented to the Board of Regents. It was noted that the provision was published to the public to receive comments and feedback, which was then analyzed by the State Education Department (SED). Many comments focused on charter schools, software product use in classrooms, and regulation exemptions. Specifically, questions were raised about the applicability of the regulation to charter schools. It was noted that the Charter Schools Act stipulates that most laws do not apply to charters unless specifically stated or if the law relates to health, safety, civil rights, and assessments. It is the position of SED however that the provision applies to charters as PII is considered an issue of health and safety. NECSN submitted formal comments back in February on this issue, arguing that it shouldn’t apply to charter schools— view that full response from our CEO Anna Hall online here.

Finally, the Board heard an update on financial transparency as stipulated by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Regent Cashin voiced concern about funds being appropriately spent and further inquired about safeguard policies in place. In response, it was noted that the financial transparency report was an aggregate of many items already regulated by state and federal government oversight.

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