|SAME AS||No Same As|
|MLTSPNSR||Hooper, 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.|
|02/10/2017||referred to education|
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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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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. LBD03166-01-7A. 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 theA. 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.