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Back from the recent past, citywide panel gets first member

Renewed mayoral control is only a few hours old, but Manhattan’s borough president has already announced his pick for the soon-to-be revived citywide school board.

Borough President Scott Stringer said he would reappoint Patrick Sullivan to the Panel for Educational Policy. The PEP was eliminated on July 1 when the city’s school governance law expired and will soon be resurrected now that the law is back in place.

Stringer first appointed Sullivan, who is a a senior vice president at Chartis International — an insurance corporation — and a public school parent, to the panel two years ago. He quickly became the board’s most vocal critic of Chancellor Joel Klein’s educational policies. Stringer explained the decision today via phone while sitting in a noisy lower Manhattan diner.

“I thought it was important today to make it clear that we’re going to have an appointee who has a reputation for being the most vigilant and the most independent member of the PEP,” he shouted. “He calls it the way he sees it.”

In July, when borough presidents and the mayor rushed to create a Board of Education, Stringer appointed his legal council Jimmy Yan. “I needed someone who could grasp the legal issues that would be involved,” he said. “It very well could have been Patrick. He didn’t necessarily want to do it.”

Stringer said he did not know when the PEP would be reconstituted, or whether the other borough presidents — who appoint five of the 13 board members — would rename their previous appointees. The DOE did not return calls for comment.

The new mayoral control law would bring few changes to the panel, Sullivan said. “The mayor has the super majority and he’s shown that he’ll replace anyone who disagrees with him,” he said. “There’ll be more votes on contracts and on changes in school configurations, but I don’t expect him to lose any votes.”

Sullivan said he was undecided about how he would vote on the mayor’s plan to end social promotion for fourth and sixth graders, which the mayor has said would be the panel’s first order of business.

“I would like them to release the RAND studies,” he said. “I don’t see why they would ask for the vote without releasing the years of research.”

The borough president said he had concerns about ending social promotion. “We have to make sure that if we’re going to leave kids back, that there’s a real mechanism to support them. It’s something that our office has been very critical about.”

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