NYS Legislative Update May 5, 2017

Bob Ungar, Kristin Curran, and I were in the Capital when the legislators returned on Monday, April 24th.  We had scheduled meetings with legislators to discuss the administrators’ tenure legislation, the impending legislation on students’ code of conduct and suspensions, and the Constitutional Convention.

Administrators Tenure

The 2015 education legislation allows a tenured teacher who takes employment in another school district to serve three years’ probation.  The legislation is silent on administrators hence administrators must serve a four year probation.  Since the summer we have had meetings with Senator Carl Marcellino, Senate Education Chair, to advance legislation granting administrators the same rights as teachers.  At our meeting last week legislation was put into draft form.  We are now waiting for a bill number after which it will move to the Senate Education Committee.  Senator Martin Golden, Civil Service and Pension Chair, will co-sponsor the bill.  When the bill goes to the Education Committee, you will be directed to contact Senate members in your district and request that they move the bill out of committee to the Senate floor.

Assemblyman Peter Abbate, Civil Service and Pension Chair, will sponsor the bill in the Assembly.  When it moves to the Assembly Education Committee, you will be requested to contact Assembly people in your district and ask that they move the bill to the floor of the Assembly.  It is not usual for a bill to be fast tracked as this is.  We need your assistance in contacting legislators when the time comes.  We will send an eblast with the names and contact numbers of members on each of the education committees.

Student Code of Conduct and Suspension Bill

We met with Assembly and Senate legislators to discuss bills (A3873-S3036).  Both bills are based on a New York City restorative justice movement.  The legislators we spoke with had no knowledge of the bills.  After we explained a few of the bills problems such as, removing the authority of the Board of Education; not permitting a student to be removed from class or school activities in response to tardiness, unexcused absence from class or school, leaving school without permission, insubordinate behavior including, but not limited to the use of inappropriate language or gestures, lack of identification upon request or a violation of school dress code; requiring school districts to establish a committee of parents, teachers, students, security personnel, and representatives of all school organizations to write a NEW code of conduct.    When this has been accomplished a public hearing about the proposed code of conduct must be held before its adoption. There was unanimous agreement among legislators we met with that the bills would not go anywhere.

Constitutional Convention

Aside from a few legislators, there wasn’t a compulsion to push for a constitutional convention.  It was widely agreed upon that this is being pushed by people outside the Capital.

We have agreed with other municipal labor unions to stay in contact with our members urging them to impress upon family and friends the need to vote no for a Constitutional Convention in November.  The legislature can accomplish through legislation anything a Constitutional Convention can.  EXCEPT – change pension laws.  Only a con-con can change pension laws.  A Constitutional Convention makes us vulnerable in terms of working conditions and pension.  Presently the legislature has no designs on either, but other money people do.  A few legislators researched the cost of a con-con, and the numbers are now in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

We will continue to monitor these initiatives in Albany and keep you informed!

Very truly yours,
Tony
Anthony C. Laurino
CAS Legislative Liaison