My letter to Bloomberg re parents' right to know performance evaluations of top Tweed officials


The Legislature passed the Governor’s bill on disclosure of teacher evaluations yesterday.  No matter that the evaluations, based primarily on test scores, are unfair, unreliable, erratic and have up to a 85 point error rate.   
No matter that the legislation will allow parents to call or email to find out the rating of their child’s teacher.  No matter that the ratings of all teachers at public schools will be published, by school, grade and subject, making it all-too-easy for parents to gossip and trade information about which teacher got which (totally unreliable) score.   
 No matter that for some reason, in our electeds’ continuing , and unaccountable deference to charter schools, they will remain free of any damaging and morale-busting disclosures.  
Still Bloomberg went ballistic because not every teacher’s name will be published in the newspaper, and says he will have every school call every single parent with children in grades 4-8 and offer them this information, because parents have a “right to know.”  UPDATE and correction:  According to this piece in GothamSchools, Bloomberg said that all parents will be called -- up to a million -- to offer them this information. The ratings will also posted on each child's ARIS page-- which may be in violation of the intent of the law, since parents are encouraged to log into ARIS for lots of other reasons.
Hah!  Bloomberg has no respect for parent rights.  When we protest school co-locations or closings, he says we“don’t understand the value of a good education.”  When wepush for more schools to be built to alleviate overcrowding, he says we have no right to be involved in this issue either.  
And the parent’s right to know?  I have submitted FOILs (Freedom of Information Law requests) for information that I have been waiting three years for, without a substantive response.  And this is far from unusual.  The DOE and other city agencies constantly flout the law and stonewall when it comes to the public’s right to know.
In February, I asked for the performance evaluations of the Chancellor’s Leadership team, and I am still waiting.  So today I thought I would email Bloomberg and Walcott.  I have also put a clock on my website in order to mark the time I have waited for these performance evaluations, which by law, are the right of every citizen to obtain.

From: Leonie Haimson [mailto:leonieh@parentsacrossamerica.org]
Sent: Friday, June 22, 2012 7:49 PM
To: mbloomberg@cityhall.nyc.gov
Cc: dmwalcott@schools.nyc.gov, leonie@att.net
Subject: FOIL request ignored for performance evaluations of top DOE officials
Dear Mayor Bloomberg:
I have heard that you invoke a parent’s right to know when it comes to the teacher evaluation reports, so much so that you are willing to have school employees spend hours and hours of their precious time, calling up parents personally to ask them if they want the information.  Yet more than four months ago, on February 28, I submitted a FOIL request to the Department of Education for the performance evaluations of the top officials at Tweed.  So far, I have gotten nothing but letters of delay in response.  Here the latest response from DOE:
 If parents have a right to see the ratings of their children’s teachers, which according to most experts are statistically unreliable, don’t they also have the right to see the evaluations of top employees at Tweed who are making six-figure salaries?  Or are teachers the only ones who, in your view, should be subject to potentially demoralizing disclosures?
 Yours, 

Leonie Haimson
Class Size Matters
Leonie@att.net
Filer of FOIL #F8144
See below.
From: Leonie Haimson <leonie@att.net>
To: FOIL <FOIL@schools.nyc.gov>
Cc: leonie <leonie@att.net>
Sent: Tue, Feb 28, 2012 9:34 pm
Subject: FOIL request
February 28, 2012
Records Access Officer
NYC Department of Education
52 Chambers Street, Room 308
New York, NY 10007

Dear Records Access Officer:

Under the provisions of the New York Freedom of Information Law, Article 6 of the Public Officers Law, I hereby request a copy of the following records or portions thereof:
The final performance evaluations of all of the members of the Chancellor’s leadership team for 2009, 2010 and 2011, in the NYC Department of Education, including but not limited to every Deputy Chancellor, as well as the performance evaluation of t he Chancellor himself.
According to Robert Freeman of the NYS Open Govt. Committee, the performance evaluations of all public employees in NY State are available to the public through FOILs, except for police and correction officers and firefighters.
These requested records are not exempt from disclosure under FOIL. To the extent that information contained in the requested records is protected please redact such information and provide us with the remaining information. In the event that all or part of this request is denied, please cite each specific applicable FOIL exemption and notify us of appeal procedures available under the law. 

To the extent that these records are readily available in an electronic format, we request that they be provided in that format. Please provide responsive records as they are ident ified, rather than waiting to gather all records.

I request to be notified of any fees associated with this request of over $100.00.

The Freedom of Information Law requires agencies to respond within five (5) business days of a records request.   Please contact me by phone at the below number or by email at leonie@att.net  with any questions. Thank you in advance for your timely consideration of this request.

Sincerely, 
Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters
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