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At City Hall, mayoral control is the ticking elephant in the room

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.)

Another group stood outside City Hall this morning to urge City Council members to make two Muslim holy days into public school holidays. The council’s education committee voted to make that change last week.

UPDATE: Mayor Bloomberg signaled he opposes making the holidays into school holidays, Azi reports at Politicker:

“One of the problems you have with a diverse city is if you close the schools for every single holiday, there won’t be any school,” Bloomberg said. “And so we have to understand that we’re going to close for those holidays where there is a very large number of kids who practice the particular religion that has the holiday and we’ll try to make accommodations” for others.

Bloomberg went on to say, “We just cannot continue to give days off from school for every single holiday. Educating our kids requires time in the classroom and that’s the most important thing to us, more than anything else.”

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