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Bloomberg’s resurrected panel is a mix of old and new

The citywide board that became a hotly-debated issue in the fight over mayoral control is back with a mixture of old and new faces.

Mayor Bloomberg announced his eight appointees to the Panel for Educational Policy on WOR Radio’s The John Gambling Show this morning. Of the people he named to the board, four will return to their previous positions, while the other four will join the panel for the first time.

Bloomberg said that the new panel will complete the process of restoring mayoral control. “It is the last step in re-establishing the school governance that has led to all of these improvements over the past seven years,” he told Gambling.

The newly-formed panel will not be an exact replica of the previous one, but the changes are more modest than some had hoped. Going into this summer’s school governance fight, critics who charged that the PEP was little more than a rubber stamp for the mayor’s policies had hoped to give members fixed terms and to prevent the mayor from appointing the majority of its members. Though neither of those changes happened, the new panel will have some increased oversight of things like contracts and school utilization.

The mayor’s appointees have close ties to his administration. One new PEP member, Gitte Peng, spent five years as a senior education policy adviser to Deputy Mayor for Education Dennis Walcott. Peng helped craft the original school governance legislation that consolidated the mayor’s control of the schools.

Walcott briefly served as president of the Board of Education this summer before mayoral control was reauthorized. Bloomberg said today that Peng’s appointment would permit Walcott’s presence “live on” at the board.

Obligated by the new law to appoint two public school parents, the mayor named Linda Lausell Bryant and Joe Chan. Bryant heads Inwood House, a family support center that has contracted with the city’s Department of Education to work with pregnant students.

Chan was formerly a policy advisor to Deputy Mayor Daniel L. Doctoroff and more recently was appointed by the administration to head a council on the redevelopment of downtown Brooklyn.
Rounding out the new additions is Tomas Morales, president of the College of Staten Island. Morales “looks forward to working with his fellow appointees, each of whom are respected leaders in their fields,” a spokesperson for the college wrote in a statement.

Though the mayor’s office did not offer reasons for previous board members’ decisions not to return, at least two seats were vacated by former appointees who are barred from the panel by the new law. One is Joel Klein who, as chancellor of the city’s schools, can only be an ex-officio, non-voting participant.

PEP members can no longer be employed by a board or agency where the mayor has the majority of appointees, a rule that may have excluded former panel member Alan Aviles, who is president and CEO of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation.

Bloomberg also replaced panel members Dr. Edison Jackson and Marita Regan. Jackson announced his resignation in June, just before the last meeting of the panel before mayoral control lapsed.

Spokesmen for Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall both said that they will reappoint Anna Santos and Dmytro Fedkowski, respectively, to the panel.

They will join Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s appointee, Patrick Sullivan, who was re-named to the panel earlier this week.

A spokesmen for Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz said the president is still interviewing candidates for the position and hoped to announce a decision before the school year begins.

A DOE official said he did not know when the panel would officially reconvene.

The mayor’s new appointtees did not return calls for comment today.