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A05570 Summary:

BILL NOA05570
 
SAME ASNo Same As
 
SPONSOREnglebright
 
COSPNSRColton
 
MLTSPNSRHooper, Perry, Rivera
 
Add 103-a, Ed L
 
Establishes the office of ombudsman for public schools to investigate and report upon complaints of environmental, health and safety conditions in public schools; provides that such office shall operate independent of the board of regents and the education department.
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A05570 Actions:

BILL NOA05570
 
02/10/2017referred to education
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A05570 Memo:

NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY
MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION
submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
 
BILL NUMBER: A5570
 
SPONSOR: Englebright (MS)
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the education law, in relation to establishing the office of ombudsman for public schools   PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: The bill would establish the Office of Ombudsman for Public Schools to independently investigate complaints of environmental, health and safety violations and concerns in schools and to provide information to the public how to file such complaints.   SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: The bill would authorize the creation of the Office Of Ombudsman for Public Schools; the Office would be under the control of a Board to be appointed by the NYS Regents. The Office would be independent of the Regents, the Department and the Commissioner. The nine member Board would be appointed for staggered five-year terms; the bill establishes credentials and requires geographic distribution for members. The Board has powers to establish a toll-free number and an internet web site for filing complaints and receive information, promulgate rules and regu- lations to exercise its powers and duties, employ staff, hold public hearings, request data from the Departments of Education, Health and Environmental Conservation and from school districts, have subpoena powers and receive sworn testimony, receive and investigate complaints from any person on environmental health and safety issues in public schools. The Office is required to annually submit a report to the Governor, the Senate, the Assembly and the Regents reporting the number and types of complaints received, the results of investigations, and recommendations for improvement of environment, health and safety in public schools.   DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ORIGINAL AND AMENDED VERSION (IF APPLICABLE):   JUSTIFICATION: Experience has shown that the public has little or no access to informa- tion in public schools, despite the current requirements in law. Testi- mony received at a recent public hearing conducted jointly by the Assem- bly Education, Environmental Conservation and Health Committees clearly demonstrated the difficulty that parents and others have had obtaining information or reporting on environmental, health and safety problems in their schools. Further, schools and the State Education Department (SED) are not reacting in a timely way in response to the adverse effects created by these problems. The end result is that children are suffering health and learning problems which are not being addressed or prevented by schools or SED. This bill would provide an independent avenue for parents and others to submit complaints and to obtain information about public school environmental, health and safety conditions that would receive immediate attention by the Office of the Ombudsman.   PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2004 A 10490 referred to education 2005-06 A2190 referred to education 2007-08 A835 held for consideration 2009-10 A1592 referred to education 2011-12 A3944 referred to education 2013-14 A4136 referred to education 2015-16 A1564 referred to education   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS: The State Education Department is required to provide resources for this office, which are considered to be nominal.   EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect on the first of July next succeeding the date on which it shall have become a law.
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A05570 Text:



 
                STATE OF NEW YORK
        ________________________________________________________________________
 
                                          5570
 
                               2017-2018 Regular Sessions
 
                   IN ASSEMBLY
 
                                    February 10, 2017
                                       ___________
 
        Introduced  by  M. of A. ENGLEBRIGHT, COLTON -- Multi-Sponsored by -- M.
          of A. HOOPER, PERRY, RIVERA -- read once and referred to the Committee
          on Education
 
        AN ACT to amend the education  law,  in  relation  to  establishing  the
          office of ombudsman for public schools

          The  People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:
 
     1    Section 1. The education law is amended by adding a new section  103-a
     2  to read as follows:
     3    §  103-a.  Office  of  ombudsman  for public schools. 1. The office of
     4  ombudsman for public schools is hereby created within the department  to
     5  independently investigate complaints of environmental, health and safety
     6  violations and concerns in public schools; and to provide information to
     7  the  public  on  how  to  file such complaints and the requirements that
     8  public schools must comply with relating to  environmental,  health  and
     9  safety  issues.   Such office shall act independently of the department,
    10  and shall not be subject to the control or supervision of  the  regents,
    11  department or commissioner. The office of the ombudsman shall be subject
    12  to the control and supervision of the board thereof.
    13    2.  The  board  of the office of ombudsman for public schools shall be
    14  composed of nine members to be appointed by the regents.  The members of
    15  such board shall each serve a term of office of  five  years;  provided,
    16  however,  that  the  initial  appointees  to  the  board shall serve the
    17  following terms of office:  two members shall serve terms of  one  year;
    18  two  members  shall  serve  terms  of two years; two members shall serve
    19  terms of three years; two members shall serve terms of four  years;  and
    20  one  member  shall serve a term of five years. The members of such board
    21  shall be broadly representative of the geographic areas  of  the  state,
    22  and  shall have expressed an active interest in or obtained professional
    23  knowledge in environmental,  health  and  safety  conditions  in  public
    24  schools.  The  chair  of the board shall be designated by the board from
 
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                                   LBD03166-01-7

        A. 5570                             2
 
     1  amongst its members. Vacancies in the membership of the board  shall  be
     2  filled  in the manner provided for original appointments. The members of
     3  the board shall receive no compensation for their services, but shall be
     4  allowed  their actual and necessary expenses incurred in the performance
     5  of their duties pursuant to this section.
     6    3. The board of the office of ombudsman for public schools shall  have
     7  a  quorum  of  six members for the conduct of business. Such board shall
     8  also:
     9    a. promulgate rules and regulations necessary to exercise  the  powers
    10  and duties of the office of ombudsman for public schools;
    11    b.  employ and at pleasure remove an executive director and such other
    12  personnel as it may deem necessary for the performance of such  office's
    13  functions,  and fix their compensation within the amounts made available
    14  therefor;
    15    c. hold public hearings;
    16    d. have all the powers of a  legislative  committee  pursuant  to  the
    17  legislative law;
    18    e.  be  entitled  to  request  and  receive  and  shall utilize and be
    19  provided with such facilities, resources and data of the  department  as
    20  it  may  reasonably request to carry out properly its powers and duties,
    21  and those of the office;
    22    f. be entitled to  request  and  receive  and  shall  utilize  and  be
    23  provided  with such resources, data and information of the department of
    24  health and the  department  of  environmental  conservation  as  it  may
    25  reasonably request to carry out properly it powers and duties, and those
    26  of the office;
    27    g.  be  entitled  to  request  and  receive  and  shall utilize and be
    28  provided with  such  resources,  data  and  information  by  any  school
    29  district  as  it  may reasonably request to properly conduct an investi-
    30  gation of a complaint pursuant to this section;
    31    h. establish and operate a toll-free telephone number and an  internet
    32  website  at  which  interested  persons can obtain information on how to
    33  file a complaint with the office and information on  the  environmental,
    34  health and safety requirements for public schools;
    35    i.  establish  and  conduct  a  public information campaign to provide
    36  awareness of the powers and duties of such office;
    37    j. have subpoena powers and the power to compel the sworn testimony of
    38  any witness which the executive director deems necessary in the scope of
    39  any investigation authorized by this section; and
    40    k. receive and investigate complaints from  any  persons  relating  to
    41  environmental, health and safety issues in public schools.
    42    4.  The  office  of ombudsman for public schools shall, not later than
    43  seven days after the receipt of a complaint, commence  an  investigation
    44  of  such complaint. Not more than thirty days after commencing an inves-
    45  tigation, such office shall send a preliminary  written  report  of  the
    46  initial  investigation  to  the complainant. Upon final completion of an
    47  investigation, the office shall send a final report of its  findings  to
    48  the complainant, the school district, and any local, state and/or feder-
    49  al  agency  having  jurisdiction over the issue investigated, and to the
    50  appropriate district  attorney  or  the  attorney  general  if  criminal
    51  violations are alleged to have occurred.
    52    5. Annually, on or before September first, the office of ombudsman for
    53  public  schools  shall submit a report to the governor, temporary presi-
    54  dent of the senate, speaker of the assembly  and  regents,  which  shall
    55  include  the number and types of complaints received during the previous
    56  school year, the results of  the  investigations  conducted  during  the

        A. 5570                             3
 
     1  previous  school  year, and recommendations for the improvement of envi-
     2  ronmental, health and safety conditions in public schools.
     3    §  2.  This act shall take effect on the first of July next succeeding
     4  the date on which it shall have become a law.
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