A state judge declined a request by a group of parents to halt the city's ongoing parent council elections, but the group plans to return to court later this month in order to petition for a whole new election.
Elections for seats on the city's councils began on May 1. There are 32 Community Education Councils, or CEC's, based on geographic regions; there are eight more citywide councils for parents of high school students, special education students, and students learning English. Each panel has nine members, but they can only be elected by parent association officers who are known as selectors.
On Tuesday, a group of eight candidates went to court seeking a temporary injunction, on the grounds that they were prevented from fully campaigning. They claimed their main opportunity to address voters was limited to community forums at which these selectors weren't always present. They wanted the email addresses of the selectors so they could contact them directly. But the city argued that this would be a violation of privacy. The city also argued that the candidates were allowed to present information about themselves online.
State judge Shlomo Hagler did not grant the petitioners an injunction. Nor did he order the Department of Education to turn over the email addresses. But, according to the petitioners, he did tell the D.O.E. that it cannot announce the results of the CEC elections before the next court hearing on May 20. Voting runs through mid-May.
The suit was brought by seven candidates seeking seats on Staten Island's Community Education Council 31 plus Jim Devor, a candidate from Brooklyn seeking a seat on the panel for high school parents.
One of the Staten Island parents, Sam Pirozzolo, said he was disappointed the judge didn't stop the election but he said there is still the possibility of a do-over if he and his fellow candidates prevail later this month.
"If the end result is that the judge will call for a [do-over] I'll be happy," he stated. "I'm really seeking the ability to reach out to selectors."
Pirozzolo said candidates need more opportunities to get out their messages. He claimed he knows of one candidate who is not fluent in English and wanted to address the selectors in person, but they did not attend the sole forum for candidates on Staten Island.
"She doesn't speak English and didn't get to speak to anyone," he said. "It's really atrocious."