mayoral control

Senate’s mayoral control legislation would raise charter cap by 100 schools

PHOTO: Geoff Decker
De Blasio testifying in Albany in support of renewing mayoral control in February.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan introduced legislation late Wednesday to raise the statewide charter school cap by 100 schools and rein in mayoral control of the city school system.

The bill would extend mayoral control by just one year and includes significant checks on the mayor’s power over the city’s schools. The city would also be required to provide new data on its school funding and receive approval from the state legislature before passing its education budget.

The proposal raises the state’s charter-school cap from 460 to 560 schools and eliminates the limit on the number of schools that could open in New York City, which has seen the fastest charter school growth of any part of the state. The Senate bill also takes out language that set a specific number of charters that each of the state’s two authorizers could approve. Under current law, the Board of Regents and the State University of New York had control over an equal number of available charters, and only a set number of schools could open in New York City and Buffalo.

Under the current cap, the city has up to 25 charters that could still be approved. All but one of those is assigned to the Board of Regents, which this month rejected all of its charter applications in an unusual move. The change offers SUNY potential control of some charters the Regents have been charged with distributing.

The bill puts no cap on how many charters each authorizer can give out, and includes no geographic constraints or restrictions on how many can be given out each year.

The changes would offer charter applicants more freedom to decide which authorizer they want to apply for a charter from, which could set up a fiercer competition between the Board of Regents and SUNY. The 17 members of the Board of Regents are appointed through a joint legislative process that is controlled by the Democrat majority in the Assembly, while SUNY’s three-person charter school subcommittee is appointed predominantly by the governor.

The legislation would also give an admissions preference to children whose parents work at charter schools, and would loosen teacher certification requirements for charter schools. Here’s an outline of the changes:

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:

Section 1 and 2: Extends mayoral control in New York City and other current sections of Article 52-A of the Education Law for one year to June 30, 2015.

Section 3: Increases the statewide cap on charter schools from 460 to 560, removes regional caps placed on charters granted, and returns charters that were previously granted but not currently being used to the pool of available charters.

Section 4: Requires the New York City Department of Education to report on the distribution of specific types of funding by individual school and per pupil.

Section 5: Makes budget and expenditure reports of New York City Department of Education schools more readily available by placing them on the department’s website.

Section 6: Requires the Department of Education to maintain certain information to be made available to members and officers of the Executive and Legislature.

Section 7: Requires the mayor of New York City to submit an education budget plan to the Director of the budget, the temporary president of the Senate, and the speaker of the Assembly for approval.

Section 8: Provides for an enrollment preference for children of charter school employees accounting for up twenty percent of newly admitted students.

Section 9: Allows charter schools to employ individuals, up to the greater of thirty percent of total teaching staff or five, that meet certain exceptional statutory criteria, but lack teaching certification.

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

More in What's Your Education Story?

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.


For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.


Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.