NEW YORK — The city’s teachers union is calling on Mayor Eric Adams to ditch new shelter limits for migrant families, saying they are expected to be a major disruption to children’s education and to school operations.
But there are no guarantees that new shelter placements will be anywhere near the schools children are already attending, potentially forcing a choice between children moving to new schools or traveling long distances each day.
“Our asylum seekers have endured great trauma getting here,” United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said in a statement. “The city public schools have welcomed them. Educators have built trust with their new students, and have made schools a secure, consistent force in the children’s lives.”
“The mayor’s eviction policy will disrupt that trust,” the union president said.
A recent tally of 2,700 families have been notified of imminent eviction from their current housing, according to the UFT. The union started a petition Monday that as of the late afternoon had 120 signatures criticizing the move to break up relationships and lesson plans.
“To uproot these families from their current housing during the coldest months of the year and interrupt these students’ educational progress … is reprehensible,” read the petition. “With this action, you will traumatize not only these families but entire school communities.
“Our schools are working through enough challenges as it is, without this callous disregard for the humanity of an already vulnerable population.”
The policy came under fire at a hearing of the City Council Education and Immigration committees last Wednesday and has been the subject of multiple parent-led education council resolutions.
In Manhattan’s District 2, which spans many of the large-scale emergency shelters that are affected by the change, including the Row on Eighth Ave., the local board last month asked the administration for a waiver for migrant families enrolled in city public schools.
The public schools do not have a data sharing agreement with NYC Health + Hospitals, which operates the emergency sites. That means schools may struggle to track families moving in and out of shelters until an agreement is made final, which is expected by the new year.
While homeless students have the federal right to stay in their current schools, logistics from delayed transportation arrangements to impractical, long commutes across boroughs could block families from having a real choice in the matter.
City Education Department chief of staff Melissa Aviles-Ramos said at the Council hearing that the public schools were “made aware” of the 60-day policy before it was announced, but would not say if they pushed back against City Hall on its implementation.
“Like with any productive partnership, we talk about the challenges, especially the ones that we know very well from our purview,” said Aviles-Ramos. “And we make sure that whatever the situation is, we do our best to make sure that there is minimal disruption to children’s education.”
City Hall did not return a request for comment.