NYC Parents Rail Against Changing School Start, Dismissal Times

Due to new requirements in teacher contracts, New York City schools may be starting as much as an hour earlier for some students. The new requirements include 80 minutes of time set aside for teachers to engage in professional development at the end of the day on Mondays and 75 minutes that are to be devoted to parent engagement on Tuesdays.

The contract also stipulates that school must end by 4 p.m, report Ben Chapman and Stephen Rex Brown for the New York Daily News.

Parents are frustrated that they were not given an opportunity to voice their opinion on this matter since it will significantly affect their schedules and lives beginning barely a month from now.

The new contract was made in June after months of negotiation that excluded parents.

Mona Davids, president of the New York City Parents Union and frequent critic of the Education Department, said parents were left in the dark on the decision.

“We have no idea what’s going on. This is going to cause a lot of hardship for parents,” said Davids.

So far, 450 city schools have changed their start times to comply with the new rules. However, a spokeswoman for the teachers union said that principals have complete control over setting the start time, reports Craig Treadway for Pix 11.

“The instructional day for students and the total work time for teachers remains the same,” agency spokeswoman Devora Kaye said. “We encourage principals to work closely with their entire school community, including teachers, parents and administrators, to establish the parameters for how to best structure the school day to provide high-quality learning for all students.”

The new $9 billion contract that Mayor Bill de Blasio made with the teachers union also means some schools will get out much earlier, 2:40 p.m. as opposed to 3 p.m., which is also problematic for working parents, reports Gary Buiso for the New York Post.

Parents are not only worried about having to figure out scheduling logistics, but also how the new schedule might compromise their children’s health and quality of education. One father points out that the teachers’ new requirements should not be the burdens of young kids who will potentially be losing sleep at a critical developmental stage.

Dzianis Kapylou, a father to a student who attends the Talented & Gifted School for Young Scholars in East Harlem has started a petition on change.org in order to try to get the start time moved from 8:05 a.m. back to its original time of 8:50 a.m.

He points out that the change is especially difficult for the parents at a citywide school.  Many parents like himself make a 30-40 minute commute in the morning to get their kids to school and some have to go even farther.