WXXI Local Stories
12:18 pm
Wed January 13, 2010

School Commissioner Van White Says a Mayoral Takeover of Schools this Year Would be Unconstitutional

Rochester, NY – Rochester School Commissioner and attorney Van White says it would be unconstitutional to consolidate the city and school district this year.

White says the state constitution requires that a takeover plan be approved by the state legislature and governor in two successive calendar years.

Under White's interpretation of the constitution, next year is the earliest that consolidation can take place. He says waiting a year does not prohibit changes from taking place. Instead, he says it gives the community more time to debate the issue.

White says he would go to court in order to prevent a consolidation this calendar year.

Mayor Duffy is pushing for the takeover of schools, but has not specified a timeline. White is apparently referring to a recent article in the Democrat and Chronicle that said the goal was to have a consolidation framework in place and operational by September

White opposes a mayoral takeover of schools, saying the district has shown progress in reducing violence, increasing the graduation rate, and improving test scores.

Assemblyman Joe Morelle says it's premature to be threatening lawsuits. He says the timeline for consolidation has not yet been determined. And he says he'll be working with the governor's office and others to make sure the consolidation bill adheres to the state constitution.