Letter from Chancellor Banks

After six months as your New York City Schools Chancellor, I feel enormous gratitude as we approach the end of the school year. In that short period of time, you helped me begin to realize my vision of empowering our families to be genuine partners in the decisions we make together for our students. Your input is shaping everything we are doing in our schools, and we can all see the difference!

Think back to when I first started on January 3, at the height of the Omicron variant surge, when our attendance rate was only 65 percent. We implemented a variety of measures to improve safety called Stay Safe, Stay Open. That included increased testing and offering highly successful vaccinations on-site for our students.

By the end of January and continuing since then, our attendance returned to nearly 90 percent. After more than two years of upheaval and trauma caused by the pandemic, our families, students, and staff deserve so much credit for persevering and enabling us to end this school year on such a high note!

All of the initiatives that we announced in recent months are the result of input from our families and will be developed in partnership with them. Those include our improved literacy instruction and dyslexia interventions, violence interruption programming to improve safety, expanded access to gifted and talented programs, and a variety of new efforts to enable our high school students to gain skills valued in the workforce.

We are relying on our families because I have learned throughout my lifelong career as a New York City educator that the best ideas and most successful initiatives arise from conversations with families. You know the needs of your children and the strengths and weaknesses of your schools better than anyone. I have been preaching to everyone throughout our school system that they need to seriously engage with families and respond effectively to their concerns. No more imposing big changes without first seeking meaningful feedback from our families.

For those reasons, we are streamlining our school system and opening up clearer channels of communication with our leaders. That includes empowering our local district superintendents and school principals so that families can more directly and easily communicate with those in charge. In recent weeks, families across the city have had opportunities to meet at town halls with finalists for the 45 New York City public school superintendent positions to ensure that the most qualified and effective individuals fill those vital roles. Thanks to your feedback, I am confident that you will be excited about the leader of your district starting July 1; you can learn more at District Leadership .

I hope you’ll agree that we’re listening, we hear you, and together we’re building a new future for New York City schools! As you enjoy the summer, I hope that you and your children will take advantage of all the amazing cultural and recreational opportunities the city has to offer.

Have a safe and fun summer. The best is yet to come as we advance toward the 2022-23 school year!

Message from the Chancellor

Dear Families,

Today we find ourselves in the heartbreaking position of having to process, once again, the senseless and devastating murder of students and teachers. We have endured so much these last few years and our school communities have shown incredible resilience in the face of unprecedented challenges. What they should not have to worry about is the threat of gun violence in their own classrooms. No parent should have to worry about the safety of their child when they drop them off for school every morning. No teacher or principal should feel fear when the door of a classroom or school building opens throughout the day. No child should have to a light candle for lost friends and classmates.

In these times, it is important that we all pull together and do what our city does best: support one another. School staff members are willing and able to provide support and assistance. Remind your child that their school is a safe place and encourage them to discuss their feelings. Please do not hesitate to share your child’s concerns with school staff members so we can provide appropriate supports.

I want to reassure all members of our school community that we are focused on safety every day. The NYC Department of Education will continue to work closely with the New York Police Department and partner city agencies to provide support and information during major incidents that impact our school communities. All New York City public schools follow strict safety protocols designed to keep your children safe at all times, especially in the event of an emergency. You can find information about the protocols we follow to keep children safe on our website at schools.nyc.gov/school-life/safe-schools/emergency-readiness.

Please make sure your school has current emergency contact information for your family. In addition, you can register for Notify NYC (a858-nycnotify.nyc.gov) and create an NYC Schools Account (schoolsaccount.nyc) to ensure you receive up-to-date information on emergency events.

The health and safety of our students continues to be our highest priority and we are here to help you during this challenging time.

Soaring high,

David C. Banks

Translated versions of this letter can be found on schools.nyc.gov/messagesforfamilies when available.

Social Media Threats- letter from the Chancellor

Dear Families,
It has come to our attention that there is a social media challenge proposed on TikTok and other social media platforms encouraging students to “call in bomb threats, school shooting threats, etc.” at schools across the United States. This social media challenge is not specific to only New York City, and many of the posts are general and not specific to one school.

The safety of everyone who enters our school buildings is always our highest priority and responsibility. Every threat to a school community is taken extremely seriously and we work closely with the NYPD to investigate threats made to any school community. If your school is named in a specific threat, please call 911 immediately and 1-888-NYC-SAFE. Additional supports will be deployed to the school as needed.
Safety and security are a community responsibility, and we are encouraging you to have conversations with your child about responsible social media use and the consequences of making threats. Schools and families can find information about digital citizenship on the DOE webpage: https://www.schools.nyc.gov/school-life/school-environment/digital-citizenship.

Any social media posts or challenges involving threats or actions of violence against school communities will not be tolerated. Threats of violence have very real consequences regardless of the reason the threat was made, and we do not want our young people to jeopardize their bright futures over social media challenges such as these.
If you or your child witness any suspicious activities on social media, please call 911 or notify a trusted adult if at a school. We are committed to continuing to closely monitor this matter.
Thank you as always for everything you do to keep our school communities safe, and please do not hesitate to reach out to your principal.
In partnership,
Meisha Porter
New York City Schools Chancellor