For Immediate Release: March 4, 2019
Contact: Peter Giunta, 347.621.8031
Assemblymember Michael Reilly (R-South Shore) announced today he has introduced legislation to reform the Panel for Educational Policy – the little known governing body of the New York City Department of Education – in an effort to increase the transparency of the panel’s actions which often have a direct impact on the quality of our public schools. These proposed reforms come in response to scrutiny attracted by some of the panel’s decisions, in relation to general policy and monetary spending, primarily because of how much influence the mayor has over the panel.
The panel has 13 members, with a majority of eight being appointed by the Mayor and the remaining five appointed by each Borough President. Under this proposal, the Mayor would lose one appointment and the Public Advocate would gain an appointment on the panel.
Aside from internal criteria that may be used to consider individuals seeking appointment to the panel, there are few requirements set by law to ensure these appointees are actually qualified. Reilly has proposed that four of the seven appointments (instead of just two, as it was previously) made by the Mayor be parents of children attending a city public school. Further, the remaining three must have expertise in an area that will assist the panel in achieving it’s purpose.
While the Mayor would still maintain his majority, this proposal adds a provision to prevent members from being removed without just cause, protecting them from political backlash if they vote against the wish of their appointing authority. Removal of an appointee must be voted on by a majority of the panel, as members no longer serve “at the pleasure” of their appointing authority. This proposal sets a two year term limit for panel members, with no limit on the number of terms they can serve, so long as they meet the qualifying criteria.
Reilly’s proposal also sets mayoral control to a term of five years. Near the end of the term, an advisory study group chaired by the Public Advocate and one appointment from each Borough President (six members) would assemble to report on the effectiveness of the panel and propose future changes. The state legislature would then vote whether to grant a new five year term of mayoral control to the city.
“Education has been a focus of mine for the last decade. I have worked tirelessly advocating for increased transparency and accountability of our school system,” said Reilly.
Reilly continued, “Regardless of who is Mayor, mayoral control does provide accountability and oversight of the New York City public school system. It holds the Mayor’s Office accountable for the budget and academic movement of our schools via the Chancellor. During the 2009 renewal process of mayoral control, we learned there needed to be changes and the state legislature acted by including those changes in the revision to the law.
This time around there are additional changes that should be considered. Mayoral control should not be permanent, but continue to have a sunset date. An ideal sunset is 3 to 5 years, which will allow a periodic mandatory review of the law.”
Prior to his election to the State Assembly in 2018, Reilly had served as President of Community Education Council 31 since 2014.