Parent coordinators are increasingly unavailable by phone, according to a report released recently by the Public Advocate's office, where staffers called 100 parent coordinators after school hours, only to leave messages for the vast majority of them. Many of those messages — 71 percent of those left by staff members posing as prospective parents, according to the Post — were never answered. When the Public Advocate's office conducted a similar study in 2005, 50 percent of parent coordinators responded to calls.
Parent coordinators are supposed to be available around the clock, and the DOE is supposed to provide them with a cell phone that should remain on all evening and on weekends. But over time, parent coordinators have lost their phones, their phones have broken, and departing parent coordinators have failed to hand their phones over to their replacements. I've had little trouble reaching parent coordinators during school hours by calling schools' main numbers and asking for them. But reaching them after school or by cell phone exclusively (if indeed that's what the Public Advocate's office tried to do) sounds like a different beast.
Of course, the real issue is that which a District 4 parent advocate notes in the Post: "You talk to a lot of answering machines when you deal with the DOE. ... No return calls, no-pick-up calls - it's true."