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New York City Council Members Demand Student Attendance Records From Education Officials; 'This Is Not A Game'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There were many questions, few answers and a whole lot of frustration at a New York City Council hearing as officials from the Department of Education were unable to say just how many students are actually going to the city's 1,800 schools.

Council members say Mayor Bill de Blasio's optimism last month about a hybrid-learning approach - a mix of in-person and remote classes - was way overblown, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported Friday.

Education Chair Mark Treyger likened the reopening to, "A broken down car on the highway."

"I lay fault, really, with the mayor because he has been in denial about how severe this crisis is," Treyger said.

The hearing was nominally about the impact of the school reopening on students with disabilities.

Council members tried - with little success - to find out about a number of issues, including a teacher shortage caused by the blended learning approach and just how many kids are actually going to school.

MORE: Bronx School Shifts To Remote Learning After Confirmed COVID Cases, While NYC Education Officials Say 100 Schools Ready To Reopen Monday

Treyger said he had talked to a number of principals who reported really low attendance.

According to Treyger:

  • 200 of 3,500 students show up at a high school in Brooklyn.
  • 30 of 500 students show up at a school in the Bronx.

"I look at this as an indication that this hybrid plan is really not working," Treyger said at the hearing. "We still don't even have attendance data. Does anyone have that with them today, since we had to subpoena it back in the spring?"

A small army of Department of Education officials were at the hearing.

"I can share the spring data with you, and our colleagues are working on making sure you and council members get current attendance information," said Chief Academic Officer Dr. Linda Chen.

Schools: The New Normal

"We need the current attendance information. This is not a game. This is not a political tit for tat. I'm compiling my own information and it is painful," said Treyger.

Council officials feel attendance records may point to a need to rethink the city's blended approach of remote and in-person learning, but it seems the information is being closely guarded by the mayor and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza.

MORE: City Council Holds Virtual Hearing On School Health, Safety; Data Show Lower Attendance, Engagement Among Black And Hispanic Students

When asked for the records, the teachers union referred CBS2 to the Department of Education.

Craig DiFolco, a spokesman for the principals union said in a statement, "We unfortunately don't really have that data and information. I know everyone's looking for it."

A spokesperson for Carranza did not respond to CBS2's request for the information.

Mayor de Blasio's press secretary said the city hopes to gather the attendance information by early next week.


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