Establishes a temporary commission to examine and review the degree and effect of segregation in primary and secondary schools and any correlation with school funding and the long-term impact of inadequate education on segregated students.
TITLE OF BILL: An act creating a temporary state commission to examine the degree and effect of segregation in primary and secondary schools; and providing for the repeal of such provisions upon expiration thereof
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: Authorizes the state department of education to investigate the degree and effect of segregation in New York's primary and secondary schools, and make subsequent recommendations to the governor and legislature.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section 1 of this bill establishes the commission within the education department. This section also outlines the powers of the commission to appoint a director and staff, to conduct investigations, to conduct hearings, to subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, and procure documents as deemed relevant to an investigation, and to submit their findings to the governor and legislature.
Section 2 sets the rules by which the members of the commission shall be appointed, and by which vacancies may be fulfilled; and the term limits of such members.
Section 3 provides for the reimbursement of reasonable expenses by members of the commission.
Section 4 enables the commission to obtain cooperation from all bodies within the state government.
JUSTIFICATION: Segregation within public schools has been a problem that state governments have been trying to eliminate for decades. More than fifty years have passed since the Supreme Court decided the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education. There still remains a high degree of racial separation in many of New York's public schools. According to information based on The 2003 Civil Rights Project conducted by Harvard University, A MULTIRACIAL SOCIETY WITH SEGREGATED SCHOOLS: ARE WE LOSING THE DREAM? New York State ranks number one in the most segregated states for black students' category.
Segregation likely contributes to the resultant inequality in funding and educational achievement gaps seen in many minority school districts.
The establishment of a temporary, state-supported, nonpartisan commission will serve to address this critical issue directly. The commission's powers will enable it to bring specific incidents of segregation to the attention of the governor and state legislature, and recommend legislative action should a detailed investigation prove such action to be necessary. By doing such, the state will have taken a major step in ensuring an equal opportunity for all of its students to be educated.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2009-10: A.3750/S.5045 - Referred to Assembly Education/Senate Finance 2007-08: A.4150/S.2119 - Referred to Education/Senate Finance 2005-06: A.1793A/5987 - Referred to Assembly Education Committee/ Senate Finance 2004: A.8402A/A.6090 - Reported to Ways & Means/Senate Finance
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: To be determined.
EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2012, with provisions.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 2759--A 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE February 1, 2011 ___________Introduced by Sen. HASSELL-THOMPSON -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Finance -- recom- mitted to the Committee on Finance in accordance with Senate Rule 6, sec. 8 -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee AN ACT creating a temporary state commission to examine the degree and effect of segregation in primary and secondary schools; and providing for the repeal of such provisions upon expiration thereof THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. There is established within the department of education a temporary state commission to examine and review the degree of segre- gation in primary and secondary schools; here and after referred to as the commission. The commission shall have the following functions, powers and duties: a. To appoint an executive director who shall act in accordance with the policies of the commission. The commission may delegate authority to the executive director to act in the name of the commission between meetings of the commission provided such delegation is in writing and the specific powers to be delegated are enumerated; b. To appoint such other staff as are necessary to carry out its duties under this section; c. To conduct investigations in connection with: the level of segre- gation in New York's primary and secondary schools; any correlation between segregation and inadequate school funding; and the long-term economic impact of inadequate educational resources on segregated students and society; d. To make an annual report to the governor and the legislature not later than July first of each year which shall include its recommenda- tions. The commission shall make such further interim reports to the governor, or to the governor and legislature, as it shall deem advis-EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD06442-02-2 S. 2759--A 2
able, or as shall be required to do by the governor, the temporary pres- ident of the senate or the speaker of the assembly; e. To conduct any investigation authorized by this section at any place within the state; and to maintain offices, hold meetings and func- tion at any place within the state as it may deem necessary; f. To conduct private and public hearings and to designate one or more members of the commission or of its staff to preside over any such hear- ings; and g. To administer oaths or affirmations, subpoena witnesses, compel their attendance, examine them under oath or affirmation and require the production of any books, records, documents or other evidence it may deem relevant or material to an investigation. S 2. The commission shall consist of ten members, to be known as commissioners to be appointed as follows: Two members of the commission shall be appointed by the governor, two by the temporary president of the senate, two by the minority leader of the senate, two by the speaker of the assembly and two by the minority leader of the assembly, each to serve a three year term. No more than five members shall belong to the same political party. No member or employee of the commission shall hold any other public office or public employment and no member shall be employed as a lobbyist. The governor shall designate the chairperson of the commission from among the members thereof, who shall serve as chair- person at the pleasure of the governor. The chairperson or any six members of the commission may call a meeting. Any vacancy occurring on the commission shall be filled within 60 days of its occurrence in the same manner as the original appointment. A vacancy in the commission shall not impair the right of the remaining members to exercise all the powers of the commission. A person appointed to fill a vacancy shall be appointed for the unexpired term of the member he or she succeeds. Six members of the commission shall constitute a quorum and the commission shall have power to act by majority vote of the total number of members of the commission without vacancy. Members of the commission may be removed by the governor for substantial neglect of duty, gross miscon- duct in office, inability to discharge the powers or duties of office or violation of this section, after written notice and opportunity for a reply. S 3. The members of the commission shall not receive compensation but shall be reimbursed for reasonable expenses incurred in the performance of their official duties. S 4. The commission may request and shall receive from every depart- ment, division, board, bureau, commission or other agency of the state, or of any political subdivision thereof, cooperation and assistance in the performance of its duties. S 5. This act shall take effect July 1, 2012 and shall expire March 31, 2015, when upon such date the provisions of this act shall be deemed repealed.