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Queens Chronicle

De Blasio picks his first PEP appointees

Katz still to name Queens member

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Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014 10:30 am

Mayor de Blasio announced last week his first five picks for the Panel for Educational Policy, the city Department of Education’s policy-making body.

T. Elzora Cleveland, Norm Fruchter, Vanessa Leung, Lori Podvesker and Robert Reffkin were named as de Blasio’s appointees on Jan. 22.

Cleveland, a resident of Manhattan, is a senior accountant at Ithaka Harbors Inc., a nonprofit organization that advances teaching by scholarship through digital platforms. Fruchter worked in the education departments at New York and Brown universities and served as a school board member in Brooklyn. Leung, a public school parent from Staten Island, has worked as an advocate for English Language Learners and Asian-American students. Podvesker, a public school parent from Brooklyn, has worked as an advocate for students with disabilities. Reffkin is the founder and CEO of Urban Compass, a former investment banker and a co-founder of the Success Academy charter school in the Bronx. He actually served on the PEP for a short time as a Bloomberg appointee in 2010.

As per mayoral control, the mayor has eight appointees, an outright majority, of the 13 members of the body. De Blasio said the other three appointees would be named in coming weeks. The five borough presidents appoint the other five members.

Meetings of the PEP, established in Bloomberg’s first term, were often a scene of intense debate and votes often came down to the mayor’s appointees versus the boroughs’. It was through the PEP — and often with the support of only mayoral appointees and Staten Island’s representative — that the Bloomberg administration was able to approve its controversial school closings and co-locations.

Borough President Melinda Katz said Monday that she was still interviewing candidates for the Queens’ representative on the PEP.

The other four borough presidents have already made their picks.

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