When members of a parent council requested to become a community school board last week, they knew it was an unlikely proposition. A Department of Education lawyer has confirmed their suspicions.

The DOE’s general counsel, Michael Best, denied the Community Education Council for District 1’s request in an e-mail, writing that under the pre-2002 law there is “no provision for the Chancellor to appoint the CEC to act as a community school board.”

CEC president Lisa Donlan said she was “really disappointed” but not surprised by the DOE’s decision. “My guess is if they wanted to make us act like school boards and follow the law, they could.”

Donlan and other council members held a meeting on July 1 to tackle the central problem facing CEC members: Under the current law, their group no longer legally exists. Wishing to become a legally recognized body, they voted to request that Chancellor Joel Klein appoint them to a community school board. These boards existed before mayoral control and had significantly more power than the CECs do.

Instead, the Department of Education is planning to continue the Community Education Councils. Best’s e-mail urges the CEC to keep meeting over the summer.

Best’s e-mail (below) also, amusingly, refers to the provisions of “the old law.” As of July 1, it’s current law.

From: Best Michael (Legal Services)
Sent: Thursday, July 02, 2009 5:19 PM
To: Andrew Reicher
Subject: email to Chancellor Klein
Mr. Reicher,

Chancellor Klein asked me to respond to the email you sent him regarding the resolutions passed by CEC1 asking the Chancellor to appoint the CEC as a community school board and to appoint the community superintendent under the provisions of the old law.

As you know, the Chancellor has urged the Community Education Councils to continue meeting, at least until September when we hope to have more clarity. During this time, the DOE will continue to support the Councils’ administrative assistants.  There is, however, no provision in the law for the Chancellor to appoint the CEC to act as a community school board.

In regard to the Superintendent, the Community Superintendents will continue as Community Superintendents, so no new appointment is necessary.

Thank you for writing the Chancellor and for your service to the District.  Have a happy Fourth of July.

Regards,

Michael Best

General Counsel