Share this @internewscast.com
Administrators of New York City’s “Summer Rising” program for school kids were left in the dark about key components of the initiative until less than 48 hours before it got off to a rocky start Tuesday, The Post has learned.
The Department of Education sent out a three-page memo on Sunday night, over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, with new information about basics such as dismissal and the digital curriculum for Tuesday morning.
Principals at Summer Rising sites were “infuriated” about the last-minute correspondence and “poor planning,” according to a separate email sent by the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators to its members.
“The DOE is clearly attempting to pass the buck as they demand the impossible, asking you to staff positions you will be unable to fill on the first day and to figure out transportation for new families you have never engaged with before,” read the memo.
Over the weekend, officials still did not have in place a way to figure out how kids were planning to get home from the various sites, according to the emails obtained by The Post.
Principals on Sunday were asked to determine which students would be using bus service, which has a 3 p.m. dismissal. Kids not eligible for bus service can stay at the program until 6 p.m. Busing is not available at the end of the day, which the DOE attributed in since-deleted language on its website to “operational constraints.”
Officials also told administrators over the holiday that they would need to program students into a computer application — which can take up to two business days to sync — in order to access the DOE’s digital curriculum.
The eleventh-hour memo also told principals to coordinate with local partner organizations that oversee the afternoon activities to ensure kids with disabilities have the support they need.
In the email, the DOE outlined what to do if paraprofessionals, who were supposed to be staffed ahead of time, were not available for the more “camp-like” afternoon sessions — including asking the morning staffers to stay or posting a substitute job the morning of.
After a messy rollout last summer, the supervisors’ union told members they made “every attempt” to work with city officials and iron out the kinks of the program since last October.
They described opportunities to discuss the program as “rare” and said that most questions were not answered.
“It is a shame that they weren’t able to provide the resources you needed and a long enough runway for you to implement their plans successfully,” it read.
The DOE on Wednesday said the weekend email was intended to clarify existing protocols that were discussed with principals in the lead up to Tuesday’s first day of the program.
“Summer Rising is off to a successful start due to the months of planning, partnership and ongoing communication between principals, CBOs (community based organizations), the DOE, and DYCD (the Department of Youth and Community Development),” said Nathaniel Styer, a spokesperson for the department.
“110,000 students have the opportunity for safe, fun, and engaging summer programming because of this work,” he added, “and we are proud that the promise of Summer Rising is a promise kept.”