Posts tagged "wild wild west"
December 23, 2008
Another notable nugget from the mayoral control forum Friday came from Udi Ofer, the advocacy director at the New York Civil Liberties Union. NYCLU hasn’t taken a position on the most basic question of mayoral control (should the mayor have control or should there be a school board), but the organization seems very likely to push for adding checks and balances to the Department of Education’s authority.
Echoing concerns that I wrote about last week, Ofer said a central problem lies in the Department of Education’s peculiar position between being a state agency subject to state oversight and a city agency subject to city oversight. He gave two examples of how the dilemma plays out. The first is that the DOE, by his account, refuses to follow both the state and city versions of a law called the Administrative Procedures Act, which forces government agencies to, among other things, allow some finite public comment period before enacting new regulations.
Here’s his explanation (and below it I’ll put his second example, the mayor’s refusal to enact the City Council’s Dignity in all Schools Act):
December 19, 2008
The state assembly’s decision to study whether the Fund for Public Schools should be exempt from a state law that asks nonprofits for detailed financial disclosure reports is something to watch. That’s because the charity group’s exemption stems from a claim that has enabled the city Department of Education to opt out of a list of other laws and protocols: the notion that the Department of Education is not legally a city agency, and therefore doesn’t have to follow city law.
The claim doesn’t come from nowhere; the city school system has been a state-authorized entity since it was created in the 1840s, and only briefly became a fully city-run entity, thanks to a power play by Boss Tweed circa 1873. But the claim is important because it’s the reason the DOE has given for exempting itself from a laundry list of other city laws and protocols over the years. So if the assembly forces the Fund to disclose its finances, that could produce a ripple effect.
Here’s a partial list of laws and protocols the DOE has avoided via this claim, compiled largely from a list Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters put together in testimony (Word doc) to a mayoral control panel recently: (more…)