New York

Eva bids adieu to longtime co-founder

Jenny Sedlis is leaving Success Academy, but she’s sticking around through the summer, CEO Eva Moskowitz told board members in an email on Thursday to officially inform them of Sedlis’ departure from the network.

Sedlis will takeover as executive director of StudentsFirstNY, though her last day at Success isn’t until Sept. 18, more than a week after the primary election for mayor and other elected offices. 

“While Jenny has very large shoes to fill, I’m confident that Success can manage this transition,” Moskowitz writes. 

Sedlis began working as an intern with Moskowitz when she was a City Council member, then helped found Harlem Success Academy I in 2006. Since then, Sedlis has been a constant public presence alongside Moskowitz as the network grew to 14 schools, with six more schools scheduled to open next year. As director of external affairs, Sedlis was usually the person who handled the barrage of criticism and press inquiries about lawsuits that often came with the school’s rapid expansion. 

“She has been a key force behind our growth and success,” Moskowitz writes. “She has fought off more threat to our existence than any of us can keep track of.” 

Last year, 97 percent of Success students scored proficient in math and 88 percent scored proficient in English, among the highest performing on state tests in New York City. 

The full letter is below: 

Subject: Jenny Sedlis

Board Members,

As you know, Jenny Sedlis co-founded Success Academies, and has worked closely with me for the last ten years. She has been a key force behind our growth and success. She has fought off more threats to our existence than any of us can keep track of.

After nearly 8 years with the Success Academies, Jenny will now be the Executive Director of StudentsFirst NY. I am so proud of Jenny’s accomplishment and New York’s children are getting the toughest (yet loveliest) advocate that I know. We will continue to work closely with Jenny in her new role. Under her leadership, StudentsFirst NY will be a powerhouse advocacy group on many of the issues we care about. Success will need to continue our own advocacy efforts on behalf of our schools —as we continue to grow and post high performance, the attacks too will continue.

Jenny will remain with Success through September 18th and won’t be very far after that. While Jenny has very large shoes to fill, I’m confident that Success can manage this transition. I hope you’ll join me on congratulating Jenny on this incredibly exciting new endeavor that will push forward the work we all care so deeply about.

Warmly, Eva

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

More in What's Your Education Story?

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.