By Jordan Davidson
Special to DNAinfo.com New York
UPPER MANHATTAN — The main advocate for a controversial plan to scrap elementary school zones in Upper Manhattan has stepped down from one of his leadership positions amid an investigation into his conduct, DNAinfo.com New York has learned.
Bryan Davis, vice president of the District 6 Community Education Council who began the public push for the de-zoning plan in October, left his post as chairman of the CEC's zoning committee earlier this month.
His resignation came after the DOE began investigating whether he had gone too far in championing the plan.
"We are reviewing allegations. At this time, we have not found any conflict of interest violations," DOE spokeswoman Connie Pankratz said in an email.
Davis confirmed he is the target of an investigation and said he had received calls from the DOE’s conflict of interest office.
“I’m not going to respond to allegations,” Davis said by phone. “The DOE has not spanked me yet.”
Davis remains vice president of the CEC.
The DOE dropped its plan to implement an elementary school choice system in the fall of 2013, which would have allowed kids in Washington Heights, Inwood and northern Harlem's District 6 to attend any school anywhere in the district, rather than being assigned a seat in their zoned school, after parents pushed back on the plan.
City officials now say they want to spend more time working out the details with the community before making any changes to the current system.
Davis attributed the allegations to a small group of affluent parents who are trying to protect the demographics of their schools and do not represent the voices of the district.
“This is a coordinated attack from a posse of insane parents,” he said. “It’s astounding that a [Community Education] Council member is working on zoning with other council members and they’re coming after me.”
Some of the questionable conduct raised by District 6 parents included calls to parents with Hispanic last names from unidentified people asking them to drum up support for the school-choice proposals.
According to sources, the phone calls came from a 917 cell phone number, which could not be traced back to a source. Sources also said women handing out fliers and collecting signatures in support of the zoning committee’s proposals at the 175th Street Greenmarket in late October admitted to working for a marketing firm, but would not give its name.
Davis denied any involvement.
“I don’t know anything about that,” Davis said. “We don’t have a list of phone numbers for Hispanic parents. We don’t have a list of any parents.”
Emails from the DOE's Division of Family and Community Engagement and the Chancellor's Strategic Response Group sought to distance the DOE from the Community Education Council, specifying that materials distributed to parents did not come from the DOE.
“It is important to note that these videos and fliers have been produced by the CEC 6 zoning committee, without the authorization, involvement or participation of the DOE,” the emails read.
"Further, any hotlines or e-mail addresses referenced in the videos and fliers which do not correspond to the official contact information for CEC 6 are not affiliated with or authorized by the DOE.”