More than a third of the New York City Council is demanding that Schools Chancellor David Banks provide answers about the apparent ousting of hundreds of early childhood staffers following a Post report.
A letter signed by at least 18 council members called on Banks and the Department of Education to clarify the status of the nearly 400 social workers and instructional coordinators who received notices of their ouster in early September.
Last week, some of the workers accused Deputy Chancellor of Early Childhood Education Kara Ahmed of providing “deliberately misleading” testimony when she claimed at an oversight hearing that the employees “are still in their role.”
The next morning, however, their status in the DOE personnel system changed to “excessed” — meaning let go from their current positions and free to apply for other jobs in the agency while remaining on the city payroll, the staffers told The Post.
“Ahmed testified that these staff would be ‘continuing in their role, in their work,’ and that the DOE is ‘not shifting resources away from kids,’” read the letter, led by Brooklyn Councilwoman Rita Joseph, who heads the education committee, along with Queens Councilman Shekar Krishnan.
“However, the next morning, according to public reporting and frantic messages from our own constituents, these same staff received notice that they had been ‘excessed,’ or removed from their current assignments and required to look for new positions,” it continued.
“Have early childhood social workers and instructional coordinators been excessed? If so, why was this not brought up at the hearing?”
Staffers told The Post they were in limbo during a broader reorganization of the DOE’s early childhood division.
“The first several weeks, we didn’t do anything,” explained one excessed staffer, “because we were told we’re not allowed to communicate with programs.”
The early childhood worker — a former instructional coordinator who worked with the littlest learners’ teachers — said she found out from a news release that her job would be eliminated.
After pushback from 3-K and pre-K sites across the city, social workers and instructional coordinators were told to continue doing their work, and blocked from applying for other vacant positions within the DOE.
That changed shortly after the council’s oversight hearing, when excessed staffers shared photos with The Post of their updated job portals, which now formally recognized them as free to look for new gigs.
“It’s a constant state of anxiety because we never know what’s going to happen,” the staffer said. “We go out to sites and say, hey, I’m going to support you. But we don’t know if we’re coming back.”
Council members on Monday also asked the chancellor who made the decision to excess staff and what the plan is to restructure the early childhood division.
“We look forward to your assurances that our social workers and instructional coordinators will remain in their classrooms, where our children need them,” they wrote.
The DOE did not return a request for comment Monday.
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