One provision has gone unnoticed in the widely discussed school governance bill that sailed through the Assembly last week.
Though much has been made of language dictating independent oversight and new power for the district superintendents, scant attention has been paid to a sentence that may end up kicking a member of the citywide school board out of office.
The bill states:
No appointed member of the city board shall also be a member, officer, or employee of any public corporation, authority, or commission where the mayor of the city of New York has a majority of the appointments.
Currently, members of the school board, known as the Panel for Educational Policy, cannot be “employed in any capacity by the city of New York,” but Mayor Bloomberg has evaded the law by naming people he appointed to city agencies.
This includes Alan Aviles, president and CEO of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, who serves at the pleasure of the mayor.
Aviles refused to comment for this story, but a spokesman for the HHC emailed, saying, “Mr. Aviles very much enjoys being part of this panel and is personally committed to the city’s public schools system.”
Patrick Sullivan, who was appointed to the PEP by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, said Aviles rarely speaks at meetings and always votes in favor of the mayor’s proposals. “He hasn’t really made his presence felt,” Sullivan said, noting that Aviles has an attendance rate of 74 percent. The panel’s critics call the PEP a rubber stamp for the mayor’s policies, citing its failure to reject any of the proposals that have come before it.
Appointed by Bloomberg in 2004, Aviles was brought in to replace one of the two board members the mayor fired after they said they would oppose a policy he supported. The Staten Island borough president also dismissed his appointee, who disagreed with the policy. Critics of the mayor call the event the Monday Night Massacre.
Tino Hernandez, another replacement appointed by the mayor, was head of the New York City Housing Authority when he was named to the board. He left NYCHA to run a substance abuse treatment provider last year and will not be affected by the new language in the bill.
One member of the PEP, Philip Berry, serves on the board of CUNY, but it’s unlikely that the bill’s language would affect him.
Another board member’s departure is more imminent. Dr. Edison Jackson, a mayoral appointee and president of Medgar Evers College, has announced that his last PEP meeting will be tonight. He has not offered an explanation for his resignation and did not return calls for comment. His attendance rate is 44 percent.