Educators rally at City Hall to protest late payments by the DOE

Nearly 100 people gathered on the steps of City Hall on Wednesday ahead of a hearing to protest not getting paid on time by the Department of Education. 
“I had to make choices,” says Celeste, who says she didn’t get paid for eight weeks this summer. “The only thing I could pay was my mortgage so that I could keep my house.” 
In 2019, management of EarlyLearn, the city’s contracted early care and education program, was turned over to the Department of Education. This made the DOE responsible for paying hundreds of independent vendors and contractors. 
This summer nearly 200 childcare centers were owed payments, according to claims by the Public Employee Union District Council 37.
In an education hearing on Wednesday, Dr. Kara Ahmed, Deputy Chancellor of Early Childhood Education, said the department is facing “enormous structural challenge” because of this large number of independent contractors. 
As a result of the late payments, providers aren’t able to pay their own vendors or staff, according to a representative from the Public Employee Union District Council 37, who conducted a survey of providers in July. They found out more than 41 percent missed payments to vendors and staff. 
The department’s goal is to eliminate “burdensome” monthly invoice processes, says Ahmed.