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To serve on new Board of Ed, deputy mayors needed waivers

The newly reconstituted Board of Education is stacked with three deputy mayors — but before the officials could serve on the board, they had to get waivers from Mayor Bloomberg.

That’s because of a statute in the city charter that prevents people from holding two city jobs without receiving a waiver from the mayor. Bloomberg wrote letters (read them here) authorizing Patricia Harris, his first deputy mayor; Dennis Walcott, his deputy mayor for education; and Ed Skyler, his deputy for operations to serve on the Board of Education on the same day that it met for the first time in seven years.

A deputy mayor sat on the school board as recently as the Giuliani administration, when Giuliani appointed a board member, Ninfa Segarra, as his deputy mayor. But it’s not clear to me whether three deputy mayors have ever served on the board simultaneously. (Knowledgeable readers?)

In each letter, Bloomberg explains he is waiving the prohibition because the deputy mayors won’t be compensated for their service on the board. (State law outlines $15,000 salaries for board members and $20,000 salaries for the board president, but all board members right now are waiving the salaries.) Bloomberg appointed two of the deputies to the board, Harris and Skyler. The Queens borough president, Helen Marshall, appointed Walcott, who is now president of the board.

In other new-world-order developments, Chancellor Joel Klein is declining to transform a second parent council into a community school board. The parent councils, known as community education councils, ceased to exist legally when mayoral control expired. But Klein has said he is not capable of transforming them into the community school boards that the law requires.

“There is no provision in the law for the chancellor to appoint the CEC to act as a community school board,” a spokesman, Andrew Jacob, said. “We’re urging CECs to continue meeting and are continuing to support their administrative assistants.”

Members of the CEC in District 15, which includes Park Slope, Brooklyn, and surrounding neighborhoods, asked Klein to name them as “trustees” of a community school board in a resolution passed last night (read it here). CEC members in District 1 in Manhattan also requested to transform into a community school board last week but were declined.

People familiar with the pre-mayoral control education law have told us repeatedly that it is possible for the chancellor to appoint school boards, despite Klein’s claim. They have said that chancellors before mayoral control routinely appointed “trustees” to fill under-enrolled or dysfunctional community school boards.

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