A member of School District 18’s Community Education Council (CEC) is trying to unseat the group’s founding president.
James Dandridge has served as president of the council, which is a volunteer parents’ group advocating for schools in Canarsie and East Flatbush, since it was established in 2004.
But at the CEC’s monthly meeting last week, Carlton Richardson nominated himself for the president’s seat.
“I think we need something fresh and new,” Richardson said.
Dandridge said, “I feel I’m the best person to ensure that the council, as a whole, continues the vision of serving all the children in the district.”
At the CEC’s recent meeting, an election was held and the vote was four for Dandridge, one for Richardson and one abstention.
Since six votes are necessary for any official action, including the election of officers, the vote was invalid.
Now, Dandridge and Richardson are preparing their speeches for another vote at the CEC’s September meeting, which will hopefully be attended by all of the council’s 11 members.
Richardson says he was inspired to run for president because of a months-long battle to stop a transfer high school from opening this fall in the new school building at 965 East 107th Street, which will also hold a middle school.
While noting, “Mr. Dandridge did speak up against it,” Richardson said, “I feel that we need a fresh look and somebody that’s a little more aggressive and someone who’s going to stand up for the parents and the community to say enough is enough.”
But Dandridge believes that the CEC president should not focus solely on a single issue affecting one school, but advocate for all District 18 schools.
“I feel that the president should be one that could relate to the issues of the district at large,” Dandridge said. “As president, you have to have a wider vision as to what the whole picture is, rather than having a narrow interest as to what your personal agenda is.”
Dandridge also believes that his five years as CEC president has provided him with the necessary experience to successfully work with the District 18 community superintendent and city Department of Education (DOE) officials. Especially since the CEC has “a 50 percent turnover [in members] from year to year.”
The CEC’s next meeting will be held on September 14 at the District 18 office, 1106 East 95th Street. For more details, contact the council at 718-566-6037 or e-mail cec18@scho