May 9, 5:05 p.m.: This post has been updated with a response from Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren. Her response follows the main story.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren has received a response (see below) from the state education commissioner on her request to have a voice in struggling city schools.
Warren wrote Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and the Board of Regents on April 13,
Mayor Lovely Warren
asking for a decision-making role in city schools that go into state receivership. She asked for a single independent receiver to oversee all eligible Rochester schools; the schools would be grouped together into an achievement district. Having multiple receivers with multiple turnaround plans would be a recipe for chaos, Warren said.
Warren also wanted the authority to help craft the framework of the achievement district and to help pick the receiver who is hired to run the schools, and maybe to also help pick the superintendent of the new district.
In her April 18 response to Warren (see below), Elia said that no legal provision exists to create an achievement district that operates independent of a school district in New York.
Elia said the purpose of her letter is only to identify what is possible and not possible in terms of Warren's request and state law.
"I want to make clear that I am neither endorsing any of the particular ideas contained in this letter nor seeking to minimize the very significant challenges that would be involved in their implementation," Elia wrote to Warren. "The ultimate focus of responsibility for the school district's receivership vision remains vested in the elected school board."
Some of Warren's ideas, however, could be accomplished under the receivership law, Elia said. No restriction exists, for example, on the number of schools that can be overseen by a single, independent receiver, Elia said, and in certain circumstances, the receiver can supersede decisions, policies, or regulations of the school board.
Warren's representatives have not responded yet to Elia's response to Warren's letter.
“As I noted in my State of the City Address, I plan to work with the Commissioner and our legislative leaders to come up with a plan that will help us turn around our failing schools and put every child on a pathway to success,” Mayor Lovely Warren said. “It is my hope that leaders in the community will work together, on behalf of our children, who cannot afford to wait any longer for our educational systems to improve.”