dear de blasio

Flanagan blasts de Blasio on ‘transparency’ as mayoral control fight heats up

PHOTO: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan.

New York City’s now-annual fight over who should control the nation’s largest school system is officially underway.

On the same day the state Assembly passed a two-year extension of mayoral control, the Senate Majority Leader threw down the gauntlet. In a letter sent to Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday, John Flanagan wrote that the way New York City released its school budget information “does not satisfy the law” and does not allow a “meaningful analysis” of an extension of mayoral control.

“A fundamental shortcoming of this administration has been a lack of transparency and response to requests for information,” the letter reads. “The lack of detail on how New York City spends the almost $9 billion provided to it by the state has been one of the key determining factors in a short-term extension of mayoral control.”

City officials said the information Flanagan requested would be available online by the end of the week. Freddi Goldstein, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office, addressed Flanagan’s letter directly. “Senator Flanagan received the information required by law and more,” she wrote in a statement. “It’s time for the Senate Republicans to stop playing games and let the city get on with the work of educating our 1.1 million kids.”

Flanagan and his fellow Senate Republicans have been the main opponents of New York City’s mayor in his quest to secure a long-term extension of mayoral control. For the past two years, de Blasio has been granted only one-year extensions, even though he asked in 2015 for mayoral control to be made permanent, and in 2017 for a “multi-year” renewal.

This year, it briefly appeared that a one-year extension might be slipped quietly into the budget deal, but that did not come to pass. Now, the issue will likely be resolved this summer, leaving plenty of time for another back-and-forth between Senate Republicans and de Blasio.

State lawmakers have capitalized on that opportunity in the past. After de Blasio’s hearing last year, Flanagan said de Blasio displayed a “disturbing lack of personal knowledge about city schools.” De Blasio then skipped the next hearing, which allowed lawmakers another round of critiques.

You can read the full letter here.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a statement from the mayor’s office.

meet the candidates

These candidates are running for Detroit school board. Watch them introduce themselves.

Nine candidates are vying for two seats on Detroit's school board in November. Seven submitted photos.

One candidate tells of a childhood in a house without heat.

Another describes the two-hour commute he made to high school every day to build a future that would one day enable him to give back to Detroit.

A third says her work as a student activist inspired her to run for school board as a recent high school grad.

These candidates are among nine people vying for two seats up for grabs on Detroit’s seven-member school board on Nov. 6. That includes one incumbent and many graduates of the district.

Chalkbeat is partnering with Citizen Detroit to present a school board candidate forum Thursday, Sept. 20 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at IBEW Local 58, 1358 Abbott St., Detroit.

Participants will have the opportunity to meet each candidate and ask questions in a speed-dating format.

In anticipation of that event, Citizen Detroit invited each of the candidates to make a short video introducing themselves to voters. Seven candidates made videos.

Watch them here:

School safety

Report lists litany of failings over police in Chicago schools

PHOTO: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Police officers stand alongside Lake Shore Drive in August as protesters decry violence and lack of investment in African-American neighborhoods and schools

The Chicago Police Department doesn’t adequately screen and train the officers it assigns to Chicago Public Schools, and their roles in schools are poorly defined, according to a sharply critical report released today by the Office of Inspector General Joseph Ferguson.

The report lists a litany of failings, including basic administration: There is no current agreement between the police department and the district governing the deployment of school resource officers, or SROs, and neither the schools nor the police even have a current list of the officers working in schools this year.

The inspector general’s report also mentions several sets of SRO resources and best practices created and endorsed by the federal government, then notes that Chicago hasn’t adopted any of them. “CPD’s current lack of guidance and structure for SROs amplifies community concerns and underscores the high probability that students are unnecessarily becoming involved in the criminal justice system, despite the availability of alternate solutions,” says the report.

Chalkbeat reported in August about incidents in which SROs used batons and tasers on students while intervening in routine disciplinary matters.

Scrutiny of SROs is nothing new, and is part of the broader CPD consent decree brokered this week between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. That agreement calls for better training and vetting of SROs, as well as a clearer delineation of their roles on campuses—including a prohibition against participating in routine school discipline — beginning with the 2019-20 school year.

Read more: How the police consent decree could impact Chicago schools

But the report from Ferguson’s office says that the consent decree doesn’t go far enough. It chastises police for not pledging to include the community in the creation of its agreement with the school district, nor in the establishment of hiring guidelines; and for not creating a plan for evaluating SROs’ performance, among other recommendations. In addition, the report criticizes the police department for delaying the reforms until the 2019-20 school year. A draft of the inspector general’s report was given to the police department in early August in hopes that some of the issues could be resolved in time for the school year that began last week. The police department asked for an extension for its reply.