SRC apparently didn't approve hiring of 785 employees between 2012-2013

Posted: November 22, 2013

THE SCHOOL Reform Commission failed to approve the hires of 785 district employees last year in violation of district policy, a Daily News review found yesterday.

The results of the review follow a story Monday in the People Paper that outlined criticism by open-records advocates of the district's hiring policies. Many said the district has violated the state Sunshine Act, because as a practice, it has not presented personnel resolutions for SRC approval until after the employees are already working, restricting public input.

The review also found that 56 employees, including high-paying administrators, were not included in any personnel resolutions.

The additional 785 hires that were not approved by the SRC started working with the district between July 2012 and January 2013.

"It's clearly a concern. This is an indicator of why so many people have lost trust in the SRC," said education advocate Helen Gym, co-founder of Parents United for Public Education. The commission is "a body that has refused to commit to transparency," she said.

The district says that upon a Daily News query last week, it found that a computer error may have omitted hires from personnel resolutions presented to the SRC.

"The error in the automated query looks to go back over two years. The review of the error is ongoing," district spokesman Fernando Gallard said yesterday.

The rules also allow a hire to work before SRC approval "when necessary to maintain continuity in the educational program or meeting emergency conditions," according to a district policy.

Media lawyer Melissa Melewsky also found the SRC's guidelines for public comment to be a "barrier to access." Speakers must register by 4:30 p.m. the day before a meeting even though pertinent materials, including the agenda and the list of resolutions, are released only hours before that deadline.

"It doesn't allow people to speak to the issues," Gym said. "It's a serious imposition on the public."

On Twitter: @ReginaMedina


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