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Parents of NYC students can now remove addresses from charter school recruitment mailing lists


Public school parents will now have the option to remove their addresses from mailing lists available to charter schools for recruitment purposes, the Daily News has learned.

The city’s Education Department, which in the past turned over access to the complete lists to charters, made the move after complaints from parents and advocates about receiving charter mailers without giving permission.

“This new policy respects our families’ privacy without limiting their access to information,” Education Department spokesman Will Mantell said.

The city allows publicly-funded but privately-run charters to purchase a directory of potential recruits through a city vendor. Charters don’t have direct access to the information, but can compile mailing lists based on desired demographics.

Charters, which enroll about 123,000 students across the city, require parents to apply, and say they rely on mailings to spread the word. But public school advocates, concerned the expansion of the charter sector is draining resources from the public system, say the arrangement encourages unfettered charter growth.

Johanna Garcia, a public school parent, filed a federal complaint about the practice in 2017, alleging the city was violating privacy laws by turning over parent information to private parties. Parents had no option to remove their names from the list.

Under the new opt-out policy, the Education Department will notify parents at the start of the school year that they can remove their information from the mailing lists. Parents can reply to the letter within 30 days, or opt out any time through the Education Department website. Schools officials will update the list four times a year.

James Merriman, the head of the New York City Charter Center, said the opt-out policy is a “good solution to a non-issue.”

Leonie Haimson, an advocate and president of the group Class Size Matters, said the new policy didn’t go far enough, adding that no other district in the country gives its charter sector such extensive family information.