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Abstract

The city of New York constitutes a single school district and the city Board of Education is charged with the general management and control of educational affairs in the city school district. The Board is subject to the plenary powers of the State Board of Regents and the State Commissioner of Education. Local school boards existed within the city school district but functioned largely advisory roles until the State Legislature began restructuring the New York City School District in 1968 and major legislation changed the city district into a decentralized system. The change resulted from the belief that community-base school boards would provide an opportunity for the community to take a more active and meaningful role in schools and permit the development of education policies that more closely related to the needs and goals of the community. This comment discusses the history of the decentralization legislation and its interpretation given by the New York courts as well. It also examines the conflicting positions of the community school boards and the City Board with regard to their respective powers under New York's Education Law. The comment concludes that the legal relationship between the community school boards and the central City Board is well-defined by both legislation and court decisions: the community school board's powers are limited to matters relating to its own community while the City Board is vested with overall statutory authority as to policies that have city-wide effects. Under close analysis, the real problem is one of politics rather than any inconsistency in the statutes.

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