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Look, but don't speak, State Ed tells reporters about Black panel

Update 5:20 PM: The panel has voted to deny Cathie Black a waiver. Two members voted in favor, but four voted against it and two voted “not at this time.”

The final decision rests with Education Commissioner David Steiner, who has not made a call yet.

In just a few minutes, the panel selected to advise Education Commissioner David Steiner on Cathie Black’s suitability as chancellor will convene for the first time.

But its eight members won’t be pausing to field questions about their stances on Black’s appointment or on their possible conflicts of interest.

The State Education Department made that much clear in an email it just sent to reporters. Reporters are invited to an “opportunity to photograph” the panel before the meeting, which is taking place at the department’s New York City office at 475 Park Avenue South. But “neither the Panelists nor the Commissioner will be available to answer questions,” the press advisory reads.

The admonishment signals that the panel does not plan to break the tone of secrecy that has prevailed since Chancellor Joel Klein surprised the city with his resignation two weeks ago.

Unlike many meetings held by state bodies, panel meetings are not required to be public because members are charged only with advising Steiner, not with actually making a decision about Black’s eligibility. Panel members are also not required to be free from conflicts of interest. Three members of the panel have worked in the Bloomberg administration, and others head groups with significant financial ties to the city.

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