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Manhattan Borough President Wants Parent Council Elections Postponed

By DNAinfo Staff on May 7, 2011 9:46am  | Updated on May 7, 2011 10:53am

Manhattan Borough Pres. Scott Stringer, seen here at a press conference questioning D.O.E. capacity stats.
Manhattan Borough Pres. Scott Stringer, seen here at a press conference questioning D.O.E. capacity stats.
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DNAinfo/Jordan Heller

By Jill Colvin

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

CITY HALL — Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer is calling on the Department of Education to delay its parent council elections, following escalating complaints from parents about the integrity of the process.

According to Stringer and council parents, this year's proceedings have been a "chaotic and confusing" mess, with names omitted from voter guides, crippling delays and eligible moms and dads told they're not entitled to run.

"This voting system is simply outrageous," said Stringer, who wrote a letter to Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott this week urging him to delay the elections, which are set to close Saturday.

"Imagine if the Board of Elections didn't put half the City Council on the ballot. What would the reaction be?" he asked. "We've reached the boiling point."

Lisa Donlan, the president of Community Education Council 1, who lives in the East Village, said that, from beginning to end, the elections have been a mess.

She said the process started too late, with little outreach. When she arrived at a candidates' forum, she was told that she had been "inadvertently" added to the ballot, even though she'd always intended to run.

She said voter guides distributed to parents contained numerous errors, with some who were ineligible included and other eligible names left out.

Her own was listed as "Lisa Donlan B. Donlan," she said.

"It hasn’t felt like a good faith effort from beginning to end," she said.

Ellen McHugh, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s appointee to the Citywide Council on Special Education, also faced problems. After seven years on the council, she said she was told she could no longer serve because of term limits — even though they don't apply.

She said the high level of disorganization has led many to believe the DOE is actively trying to undermine the process to keep strong-minded parents away.

"It's clear that they’re disinterested. It feels like they don’t want us," she said.

Walcott, meanwhile, defended the department and said the elections will go on as planned.

"I cannot stress enough the importance of parent involvement in our schools and the Office for Family Information and Action will take all necessary steps to ensure that all of our parents have an opportunity to cast a vote in the CEC elections by May 7th," he said in a statement.

The department previously extended the application deadline for parents interested in running after receiving fewer applications than they'd hoped.

Parents still interested in voting can cast their ballots here.