As borough presidents prepared to gather at Gracie Mansion to convene a new-old Board of Education last night, city principals received a newsletter in which the biggest news had to do with kindergarten waiting lists. No mention whatsoever of mayoral control's expiration. Here's the weekly newsletter:
It's all happening: The newly recreated Board of Education is meeting today at noon, inside Tweed Courthouse, the headquarters of the city schools administration. As we reported last night, convening the board is the first step to getting the new, post-mayoral control governance system up and running. The media advisory I received underscores the confusion that is sure to rule today: The event is billed as an emergency meeting of the Board of Education, but the logo in the e-mail is the multi-colored one used by the Department of Education. We know three of the seven people who will be sitting on the board when it meets: We reported yesterday that Dolores Fernandez, a former college president and critic of the mayor's policies, is Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr's pick. Scott Stringer of Manhattan is appointing his counsel, Jimmy Yan, on an interim basis and Brooklyn's Marty Markowitz picked his chief of staff, Carlo Scissura, according to the New York Times. Queens Borough President Helen Marshall is announcing her pick right now and Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro will name his nominee at noon. Mayor Bloomberg hasn't yet said who he'll choose to fill the two seats he controls. Update: The DOE just sent out the full line up and there are some interesting choices. First Deputy Mayor Patricia E. Harris (Mayoral appointee) Deputy Mayor for Operations Edward Skyler (Mayoral appointee) Dr. Dolores Fernandez (Bronx appointee) Carlo Scissura (Brooklyn appointee) Jimmy Yan (Manhattan appointee) Deputy Borough President Edward Burke (Staten Island appointee) Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development Dennis M. Walcott (Queens appointee) Here's the announcement that just came from the communications office at "NYC DOE":
It looks like Governor Paterson's 7 p.m. extraordinary session failed to renew mayoral control. Mayor Bloomberg has already put out a statement (read it in full below) condemning lawmakers for "being held hostage to partisan politics." We've published a guide to the uncharted territory of a post-mayoral control world. Here's a summary: 1. The borough presidents and the mayor convene a new city Board of Education. 2. The Board of Education members elect a president among themselves and begin receiving salaries. 3. The Board of Education selects a chancellor. 4. The Board figures out how to make money flow. 5. Community school boards form. 6. District superintendents are appointed. Please note this all ideally occurs before the start of summer school tomorrow morning. The mayor's full statement:
The City Council passed a resolution today calling on Mayor Bloomberg to add two Muslim holidays to the school year, a proposal the mayor has repeatedly opposed. For over a year, a coalition of Muslim New Yorkers has lobbied the Department of Education to change its policy. The mayor has said he does not favor including the two holidays because it would shorten the school year and could lead other religious groups to demand that their holidays be included as well. Amy Sugimori, a spokeswoman for the coalition, said the group would continue to lobby the mayor "to come up with a solution that works for everybody," she said, adding that she didn't expect the policy to change in the upcoming school year. Councilman Robert Jackson, who chairs the Education Committee, is Muslim and supports the change in policy. "Having to choose whether to send your children to school on your highest, holiest holidays where there may be an exam or stuff like that, it's a clash situation and it should not have to happen," Jackson told Politicker. He said the mayor was "not being open-minded, he's not being flexible, he's not being inclusive."
Talks are underway between City Hall and the city's borough presidents to craft a plan for what to do if mayoral control expires tonight — but it's not yet clear that Mayor Bloomberg will cooperate with plans to reconvene a Board of Education tomorrow. Asked if Bloomberg has indicated whether he would appoint the two board members the law allows him, the Manhattan borough president, Scott Stringer, said he didn't know. "They are having discussions at City Hall," Stringer said. One possibility being batted around is for the mayor to go to court to ask for a preliminary injunction, sources said. A preliminary injunction would freeze the process of reverting from the current centralized governance system to the pre-2002 system. It would stymie the creation of a Board of Education. Asked about the prospect of a legal injunction, Stringer said he opposed it. "If you let the courts run the school system, you're basically putting the school system into receivership," he said. "I don't think that's something we should deal with." In his public appearances, the mayor has not committed to cooperating with the borough presidents in reconstituting the Board of Education.
As Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg warn of "total chaos" and ominous "uncharted territory" if mayoral control expires tonight, another, less-frenzied possibility is emerging. The possibility hinges on the success of efforts underway right now to produce a compromise mayoral control bill in the Senate, according to a spokesman for the Campaign for Better Schools, which is pushing a compromise. A compromise would find a middle ground between the bill introduced by state Senator Frank Padavan, with the support of Mayor Bloomberg, and the one introduced by Senator John Sampson, the Democratic leader in the state Senate, who favors adding checks to the mayor's power. But it would still mean the June 30 deadline would pass without a new school governance law to replace it. That's because in order to become law, both houses of the legislature have to vote for the same bill. But a compromise bill would be different from the one the Assembly passed two weeks ago. "Our point is that schools will open up as usual tomorrow, even if mayoral control expires," said the spokesman, Shomwa Shamapande. "Let’s get the legislation right and make sure parents have a voice." Shamapande would not disclose details of the talks he said are underway, saying he does not want to jeopardize the effort. I asked him if he is confident the talks will produce a compromise. "We’re hopeful. I’m not going to go with confident," he said.
<em>Courtesy of the Bronx borough president's office</em> No one can accuse Bronx borough president Ruben Diaz Jr. of being unprepared for the possibility that mayoral control will expire tonight. Diaz just named his potential appointee to the theoretical Board of Education. That person is Dr. Dolores Fernandez, a professor of urban education at CUNY's Graduate Center who retired as president of Hostos Community College in 2008. Fernandez's appointment will become effective at midnight tonight if the 2002 mayoral control law expires and the Senate does not pass a law to replace it. Diaz said in a statement today that he is "a supporter of some form of mayoral control." Asked if Diaz would recommend that his appointee to the board vote to retain Joel Klein as chancellor, John DeSio, a spokesman for the borough president, would not comment yesterday. "He has mixed opinions on the chancellor," DeSio said. Fernandez could not immediately be reached for comment. In a release put out by Diaz's office, she said: "For me, it is an honor to be thought of by Borough President Diaz to represent The Bronx on the Board of Education. I look forward to serving our borough, and its children, in an admirable and professional way." Between 1988 and 1990, Fernandez was deputy chancellor for instruction and development for the Board of Education. She served under chancellor Richard Green, the system's first black chancellor, who died suddenly a year into his tenure of an asthma attack, leaving the school system in disarray. Fernandez has a Master's in Education and a professional diploma in Educational Administration. The full press release follows.
The NYCLU and Sikh community members demanded protection against discrimination at a press conference this morning. They said their push could be helped if mayoral control is revised. Mayor Bloomberg refused to take questions on mayoral control at a press conference this morning, and two school-related groups staged protests outside City Hall and Tweed Courthouse without addressing the 2002 law directly. That's despite the fact that mayoral control is set to expire in 12 hours if the state Senate doesn't pass legislation today. With the Senate still locked in a court battle, chances of a resolution look dimmer by the minute — and a reconstituted Board of Education looks more and more likely. Bloomberg said he will address the small matter of the deadlocked legislature at 12:30 today, at a press conference where he will virtually appear next to Governor Paterson, who is in Albany. Meanwhile, a group including the New York Civil Liberties Union and Sikh community members demanded more protection from discrimination this morning, in a protest outside the Department of Education's Tweed Courthouse headquarters. The group accused the DOE of not enforcing a regulation that is supposed to protect children from discriminating against each other in school. Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU, said the issue relates directly to mayoral control. The NYCLU has argued the current mayoral control law wrongly insulates the school system from following city law. "The refusal of the DOE to protect kids has to be looked at in the context of mayoral control," Lieberman told our Anna Phillips, who is at City Hall this morning. (The Assembly's version of a revised mayoral control law does not clarify whether the Department of Education must follow city law, as NYCLU advocated.)