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City charter office to schools: start parent groups by October

For the first time, the Department of Education’s charter school office is forcing all New York City charters to start parent associations.

The change is a direct result of the new charter cap legislation that Albany passed in May. In addition to doubling the number of charters allowed to open, the legislature amended state education law to say that charter schools located in New York City must establish parent or parent-teacher associations.

What remained unclear over the summer was whether the new provision would be enforced by the city, or by each school’s individual authorizer.

Today, the acting director of the city’s charter school office, Aaron Listhaus, sent a memo to leaders of all of the city’s charter schools — regardless of who authorized them or when — instructing them to start forming parent organizations if they have not done so already.

Listhaus gave the schools an October 1 deadline to check in with his office on their progress starting a parent group. Charter school authorizers have never before had to track whether their schools have parent groups. Hard numbers about how many schools will be affected by the change were not available today. But Listhaus and a spokeswoman from the New York City Charter School Center estimated that a majority of city charter schools currently do have parent organizations.

The full memo from Listhaus to charter school leaders is below: