August 5, 2019
Dear Parents, Faculty, Staff, and Alumni,
As of this morning, 11,334 letters have been sent by parents, faculty, staff, grandparents, alumni, and students in NYSAIS independent schools in response to the public comment period regarding the proposed substantial equivalence regulations in New York State. All letters endorsed the importance of keeping independent schools free from excessive government interference.
A July 24 Wall Street Journal article reported that a total of 24,000 comments had been submitted from non-public schools in the state, of which there are about 2,000. There are approximately 200 NYSAIS schools in New York State. The other non-public schools are largely Catholic schools with a lot at stake, too, in this new interpretation of educational law.
On July 15, Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, who had introduced and championed the new regulations, resigned her position effective August 15.
Seventy letters have been submitted by Buckley parents, alumni, faculty, staff, and grandparents. THANK YOU for your support. We cannot afford to be asleep at the wheel, even during the summer. Please know how grateful I am for the time you took to submit letters to the Board of Regents to express your opposition to the NYSED proposed regulations. The public comment period is open until September 2. I encourage you to consider submitting your comments before then if you would like to do so.
Below are a few bullet points to clarify why this issue is so important to us:
- As it stands, NYS education law does not give the NY State Education Department or local school boards the authority to regulate all nonpublic schools.
- The new regulations subordinate the authority of Buckley’s independent Board of Trustees to an elected body in a school district, Herricks, where very few Buckley families (about 10%) have any say.
- Giving a local school district the authority to determine what the scope and sequence of our curriculum should be and align it with generic state standards goes against the very choice parents make when they decide to enroll their children in an independent school. The proposed regulations, for instance, require independent schools to report to, and get an approval from, the local public school leadership, on an ongoing basis, for all changes in curriculum and any other changes that are requested by local public school officials.
- Buckley and other similar independent schools are already accredited by NYSAIS. NYSAIS is an educational corporation, chartered by the Board of Regents, and governed by an independent Board of Trustees.
- Current NYS education laws clearly give the Regents and NYSED the authority and responsibility to address any school in which a credible complaint has been submitted regarding its compliance with NY education law. The position of NYSAIS and its member schools is that it continues to support investigations of schools in which a credible complaint has been lodged.
Thank you again for the support the Buckley community has demonstrated since the start of the public comment period.
I will keep you updated regarding further developments.