Response From The Commissioner Of Education
Dear Mr. Lovino:I thank the Governor and Ms. Lallier for their prompt response. Of course, it would have been nice if:
Governor Pataki has asked the Educatin Department to respond to your recent message, in which you request that the Commissioner remove member(s) of the Roslyn Union Free School District Board of Education.
Section 310 of the Education Law provides for the Commissioner of Education to entertain allegations of wrongful actions by school district board members or administrators when an aggrieved party seeks redress through a formal appeal process. In addition, Sections 306 and 1706 of the Education Law provide for the removal of board members or administrators if they willfully violate law or neglect their duty under the law. An application for review under Section 306, 310 or 1706 of Education Law must be initiated within 30 days of the decision or action complained of, and must contain evidence of willful, intentional wrongdoing
Whether seeking redress or removal, the appeal process protects the constitutional rights of both parties and enables both sides to present evidence supporting their allegations or defenses. The individual (resident of the school district) bringing an appeal before the Commissioner has the burden of proving the facts that he or she is alleging. Instructions for filing an appeal are available through the Internet at: http://www.counsel.nysed.gov/.
I hope this information proves helpful to you.
EMSC Communications Unit
a. The response wasn't replete with spelling and grammatical errors. It would seem to me that the Communications Unit of the Department of Education would be at least as careful with its correspondence as, say, is required of an eighth grader; and
b. The response made any sense.
Is the Department of Education saying the Commissioner has taken no action because no resident of Roslyn filed a complaint within 30 days of the thefts? the public announcement of the thefts? the public revelation of possible misuse of district funds/equipment? Is the Commissioner saying that the actions of the Roslyn Board are time-barred because 30 days have passed?
Is the Commissioner actually telling us that he needs a formal complaint by a resident to remove these people? If so, then he didn't read the statute.
Ms. Lallier cites Section 310 as stating that the Commissioner is authorized to "entertain" complaints, implying that unless a complaint is received the Commissioner is powerless to act. That is not accurate.
Section 310 of the New York State Education law explicitly gives the Commissioner the power to bring this action himself:
Even if the Commissioner believes he doesn't have standing to initiate the proceeding to remove these board members, is he saying that nobody from Roslyn complained? Is that possible?
And even if no one from Roslyn complained, did the Commissioner receive formal complaints from residents in Roosevelt before he disbanded the entire Board? Did he receive formal complaints from residents before he removed other Board members in other districts for misconduct?
I care about this issue because I am a former Board member (of another district), and because people in my District are pointing to Roslyn as "proof" that "all" school districts are full of fraud and waste. I care because they are attacking members of my School Board, and my Superintendent, whom I know and trust to be hard working, honest people.
How can the Commissioner stand by and do nothing? It's a disgrace.