Community Education Council 24 — representing 55 schools in central and parts of western Queens — voted on Thursday, Feb. 24, to form a special committee to investigate the potential removal of the council’s president, Ferdielynn Lee.
Vice President Henry Choi initially called for the vote to consider removal last week, telling QNS he thinks “a change in presidential leadership would best reflect the wishes of the parents in the district.”
Lee’s term ends in June but the council is looking to remove her effective immediately. In the event that this happens, Lee would lose her executive standing in the council but would not necessarily lose membership in CEC 24.
“I don’t want to speak for the CEC,” Choi said, “but there is a large percentage of the council that wants to remove her before her term ends.”
Four members voted last week to explore the potential removal of the CEC president: Choi, Treasurer Michael Conigliaro, IEP Connie Altamirano and Matthew Crescio.
Though the council is moving quickly to remove Lee from her position, no one in the community knows why. Per the request of many parents, members voted to add a public comment portion to the agenda last night, though Lee voted against this motion, arguing it was not “operationally required.”
Other members felt that the community should have their voices heard.
“We represent the parents and the children of this district, and parents should have a right to ask questions,” said CEC member and community activist Connie Altamirano.
During public comment, Matilda Fratto, a concerned parent and community member, fervently expressed disapproval that the board has not told the public why they are looking to remove the president.
“I have no idea why Ferdie Lee is being removed because I’m not in the executive session. As parents and also parents who voted the members in, I think that should have been public,” Fratto said. “To not be privy to any of the information that was discussed is really a detriment to the whole process. In all fairness, everyone on that board was either voted or appointed by the community. To have an accusation made to remove a president and not have any information forthcoming to the public and to the people who elected them — there’s no transparency there.”
The investigative committee, consisting of five members, is expected to present their findings and call for a vote to remove Lee from her position next week. However, Fratto and other parents in the community are still angry that they are being kept in the dark during this process.
“The people are voted in by the parents in the school districts, this affects the kids, the parents, the community at large,” Fratto said. “I don’t understand where the lack of transparency comes in. If there’s nothing to hide, make it public.”