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NYC DOE team aiding homeless students has ‘leadership vacuum’

The particular metropolis faculties group that oversees homeless college students is going through a “management vacuum” and on the worst doable time — as 1000’s of migrant kids with out housing flood the Massive Apple. 

With households persevering with to be introduced by the busload right here from the border, New York Metropolis’s homeless-shelter system is at its breaking level, together with with children who must be educated.

In the meantime, at the least eight high positions on the metropolis Division of Schooling’s Workplace of College students in Short-term Housing are vacant or about to be — together with that of its government director, who gave his two-weeks discover Monday after eight years with the DOE.

“With an increasing number of kids being in shelters, it’s just a little alarming there’s nobody in that workplace proper now,” stated Lilah Mejia, an schooling advocate for asylum seekers.

“That is one other slap within the face for them — who’s there to help them?” stated Mejia, additionally the president of the parent-led Neighborhood Schooling Council 1 and a mother of six.

The workplace’s outgoing government director, Michael Hickey, took on the function in the course of the 2018-19 college 12 months, in response to his LinkedIn web page.

His and different departures on the workplace have left a “management vacuum,” an advocate instructed The Submit.

Lilah Mejia
Lilah Mejia known as the absence of high aides a “slap within the face” for migrant kids.
Steve Sanchez/Pacific Press/LightRocket by way of Getty Photographs

The workers exits come as greater than 2,000 newly transplanted younger asylum seekers with out everlasting housing have entered the town’s public-school system. That’s to not point out 100,000 of the town’s kids who have been already in momentary housing earlier than the buses started to reach.


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“It’s crucial for the DOE to have sturdy management, significantly at a time when there may be an inflow of latest migrant college students coming into shelters,” stated Randi Levine, coverage director at Advocates for Kids, whose focus contains college students in momentary housing and foster care.

Near two-thirds of metropolis college students residing in shelters have been already chronically lacking class earlier than this college 12 months or absent at the least one in each 10 college days, information present.

An MTA bus transport migrant children.
An MTA bus transports migrant kids.

Migrant bus from El Paso
A migrant bus from El Paso arrives at Port Authority on September 15.

Students and their parents enter Anderson School on their first day back.
College students and their dad and mom enter Anderson College on their first day again.

Advocates for Kids advised that the cash is there to assist them — greater than $30 million in time-limited federal stimulus {dollars} earmarked for homeless kids — however that sufficient isn’t being performed with the funds.

For instance, whereas the division has dedicated to hiring 100 of the shelter-based college staffers to work year-round, it has not introduced them on board to date, the advocates stated. At the moment, a lot of the staffers work on 10-months schedules excluding the summer season, which can have hindered the town’s capacity to arrange for back-to-school because the frequency of migrant buses sped up final month.

The DOE instructed The Submit on Friday that it’s hiring 75 of these coordinators and expects to start out bringing them on within the subsequent month.

However Mejia, who’s on the entrance traces of greeting newly arriving migrants, stated she’s “by no means seen” reps from the Workplace of College students in Short-term Housing round.

“It’s one other burden on our faculties, on our dad or mum coordinators,” Mejia stated of the inflow of homeless children with out extra DOE assist. “After we hear households are in want, one other dad or mum will say they want this, and it’s the group who helps these households.”

The Adams administration has touted its interagency plan to transition asylum seekers to the town’s college system. Rolled out in mid-August, Undertaking Open Arms supplies assets and companies to the brand new arrivals by way of a partnership between the DOE, the Mayor’s Workplace of Immigrant Affairs and the town’s Division of Social Companies.

Mayor Eric Adams tours the asylum seeker resource navigation center.
Mayor Eric Adams excursions the asylum seeker useful resource navigation middle.
Robert Miller

DOE rep Suzan Sumer known as the temporary-housing government director’s departure “a traditional workers transition.

“This essential work continues whereas we instantly start the method of hiring a brand new chief,” Sumer stated.

She added that the workplace “leads important work” — “none of which will likely be disrupted whereas management navigates a interval of regular transition” — and that the DOE is “actively looking for candidates” for all of its vacant positions.

There are 350 workers all through the Schooling Division who assist college students and households in momentary housing, in response to the DOE, plus greater than 100 social employees who have been just lately moved to district places of work.

“We proceed to make important progress in the direction of eradicating any limitations to success within the lives of our most susceptible college students, offering them with nurturing, supportive college environments the place they will join with each other, talk with a caring grownup, and entry the assets they should develop and study,” Sumer stated.

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