State Senator Ken LaValle said on Friday that a public forum scheduled with New York Department of Education commissioner John King will not be held at Riverhead High School, as previously reported.
Mr. LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) told The News-Review in an interview Friday the decision was made due to space concerns. He said a new location is needed in order to accommodate a larger crowd, however it remains unclear where the meeting will be held instead.
The state’s website said as of Friday afternoon that Riverhead would host the Nov. 26 meeting. State education department spokesman, Tom Dunn, said on Friday that “We are working with the senator to pick a location.”
Mr. LaValle is expected to announced the new venue sometime next week. He said the originally scheduled Nov. 26 date remains the same.
The state Department of Education first announced details on Wednesday about four upcoming Long Island meetings with Mr. King. Since then, the date for the first meeting at Ward Melville High School in E. Setauket has been changed to Nov. 12.
“I want to make sure that we have a location that will accommodate as many parents and educators as possible for them to spend sometime with the commissioner,” Mr. LaValle said. “I’ve invited him to come because the people I represent want to hear him and, more importantly, they would like to speak to him.”
While the details about the meeting are still being ironed out, Mr. LaValle said he’s working with the nearly 30 school districts within his legislative jurisdiction to have them arrange tickets for the event. He said he would like the audience make up to consist of at least 60 percent of parents from each district.
“I want to make sure we that we’re allowing as many parents to come,” he said. “They will get their tickets through their school districts … We need to know who’s coming beforehand because we want to make sure people will have a seat.”
As for scheduling the meeting two days before Thanksgiving, Mr. LaValle acknowledged the difficulty in planning such an event that would please most people. He said his biggest requirement was making sure the meeting was held at night so that the most amount of people could attend after work.
Mr. LaValle, a former educator, said he has concerns about how Common Core is being implemented, especially with excessive testing for elementary school students and students with disabilities.
He said he reached out to Mr. King and Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch to set up the meeting because more and more people have expressed frustration over the new and rigorous curriculum.
“We’ve had a really good line of communication open,” he said. “I think that the hearing Sentator Flanagan had in Brentwood was really great. From that point forward, I believe the [education] department and specifically the commissioner and members of the Board of Regents have been listening.”