BUFFALO, NY - New York's Education Commissioner wants the state legislature to pass a bill, giving the Board of Regents the authority to take over school boards in districts failing academically and/or financially.
Under the proposal, there would be benchmarks for state intervention, involving a three-step approach, with a takeover the last step if a district continues to fail to implement mandated changes.
"The Board of Regents has put forward a legislative proposal that would allow the board to remove a school board in a district that is chronically under-performing, and require the appointment of an education oversight board that would be similar to a fiscal control board," Commissioner John King told WGRZ-TV.
"That control board would then have responsibility for managing the district," King said.
Giving the Board of Regents that type of authority isn't a new idea. A bill to do so was first proposed in 2011; however, it never made it out of committee that year, or the next ..., and was not even submitted in the last legislative session of 2013.
"It has not yet been acted upon, but that's certainly one of the options we believe should be on the table for the Board of Regents when you have a district that is chronically under-performing and, from a governance perspective unable to move forward," said King.
And just which district would John King be wanting to get his hands on?
Why Buffalo, of course!
To hear King describe the Buffalo Public Schools, its top administrators, and its Board of Education, Buffalo might be ripe as a takeover target.
King notes Buffalo has, in recent times, missed deadlines to enact acceptable plans to turn around troubled schools, implement school choice plans, and agreements for teacher evaluations
"The district leadership has a set of obligations. Those obligations haven't been fulfilled," King said.
Where does the governor stand on King's proposed changes?
"I don't think it's a good idea for the state to become a foster parent here,"" said Lt. Governor Robert Duffy, during a visit to the Buffalo are in June. "I think the Governor would prefer results to come locally, to come from the ground up...I would hope there would be a number of things that would be done before it ever gets to that."
King is still angry at the Buffalo school district for showing him up over the teacher evaluation law and making a side agreement with the union that nobody would be fired the first year under the new APPR system.
King and Cuomo got that side agreement quashed by threatening to hold back funding from the district.
This came after Cuomo accused the district of legal and ethical fraud by making the side agreement.
Now the teachers union in Buffalo is suing to get that agreement reinstated.
There are districts in NY State that perform similarly to Buffalo on so-called accountability measures like state test scores and graduation rates - Rochester comes to mind.
And yet, King only has his sights on Buffalo, both with his bludgeon (he is trying to force the district to allow students to transfer out to BOCES in the area) and now with his state takeover proposal.
He clearly has a vendetta against the district.
I wondered a while ago if King was aiming to have the state take over the Buffalo school district.
With King strongly urging the legislature to pass this proposal into law, you can bet he is.
The message coming out of the NYSED is, do what we want or we will take you over.
Quite literally John King thinks he is "the king."