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October 27, 2020
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JP O'Hare

(518) 474-1201



State Education Department Announces Series of Regional Meetings to Gather Stakeholder Input on Substantially Equivalent Instruction for Nonpublic School Students

The New York State Education Department announced today that it will hold a series of regional meetings to engage and gather input from stakeholders in the religious and independent school community, as well as their counterparts in public schools, to inform policy decisions related to the substantial equivalence of instruction in nonpublic schools as required by Education Law Section 3204(2).  The Department will conduct five regional meetings that will take place virtually, in addition to other forms of outreach to communities that may not utilize the internet. A sixth virtual meeting will engage current nonpublic students, parents, and alumni from across the state.

“Given the volume of comments on the July 2019 proposed regulations, the Board recognized the need to re-engage with stakeholders to devise an approach that would be collaborative in nature,” said Vice Chancellor T. Andrew Brown. “The Board and I are committed to leading an educational system where all learning environments, whether public or private, respect and affirm students’ racial, linguistic, cultural and religious identities, and we look forward to hearing the thoughtful input from educational leaders across the state throughout this endeavor.”

“All children, regardless of their race or religious beliefs, deserve access to a high-quality education that will allow them to meet their full potential,” said Interim Commissioner Betty A. Rosa. “As we begin the process of engaging our partners in the field, we anticipate constructive and thoughtful discussions to develop an inclusive framework for determining substantial equivalence for the students of New York State.”

Regional Meetings

For each region, a virtual meeting will be held to include public and nonpublic school stakeholders, members of the Board of Regents, and Department staff. Dates of the webinar for each of the five regions and the sixth meeting for current students, parents, and alumni are listed below. 

Regional Meetings
Date/Time Region Regents

11/17 2:00-5:00 PM

Rest of State  

Vice Chancellor Brown, Regents Tilles, Ouderkirk, Mead, Hakanson, Reyes, Mittler and Wills

12/1 10:00AM – 1:00PM 

Manhattan, Staten Island & Bronx

Regents Tilles, Cea, Cottrell, Mead, Reyes and Wills

12/2 10:00AM – 1:00PM

Long Island & Queens  

Regents Tilles, Chin, Mead, Reyes and Wills

12/7 10:00AM – 1:00PM

Hudson Valley 

Regents Tilles, Finn, Mead, Reyes and Wills

12/8 2:00-5:00 PM

Parent, Student, Alumni  

Vice Chancellor Brown, Regents Tilles, Young, Cea, Cashin, Cottrell, Ouderkirk, Collins, Mead, Hakanson, Reyes, and Wills

12/9 10:00AM – 1:00PM


Regents Tilles, Young, Cashin, Mead, Reyes and Wills

Participation in Meetings

Due to technical limitations, the Department may not be able to accommodate all interested participants in the meetings.  Since it is important that the regional conversations represent the perspectives of school leaders in that region as widely and fairly as possible, the Department is seeking nominations of interested individuals who reflect the diversity of the state to participate in the virtual regional meetings.  Nominees should have professional experience in elementary or secondary instruction.

NYSED invites representatives from both religious and independent schools and public school leaders to join regional, virtual meetings. If you are interested in joining, please fill out a nomination form by Wednesday, November 4 for the first meeting and Thursday, November 12 for the remaining meetings.

Religious and Independent School Survey

Because participation in the regional meetings may be limited, the Department has developed a survey that will offer religious and independent school leaders an opportunity to share the ways that they monitor their students’ progress as the children advance through their school programs.  The survey will provide NYSED with a list of specific mechanisms that are used in religious and independent schools across the state. 

Survey responses received prior to the regional meetings will inform those stakeholder discussions. Responses submitted by December 4, 2020 will be reported to the Board of Regents for its deliberations.

Next Steps

The outcomes of the stakeholder engagement sessions and the survey of religious and independent schools will be considered by the Board of Regents as it considers next steps in the process to develop regulations for substantially equivalent instruction for nonpublic school students. With meaningful collaboration with stakeholders, the Department intends to propose regulations that both respect the diversity of schools in New York State and ensure that all students have the opportunity to receive an education that enables them to fulfill their potential.