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The "Who Are You Kidding??" Award Goes To: Joel Klein, New York City Board of Education Pretender
We filed a Freedom of Information Law request in 2006, and received a reply from the New York City Department of Education that Joel Klein, who calls himself "Chancellor" of the New York City Board of Education, has no contract although Education Law requires that he have one. On March 19, 2007, we told him that we cannot call him 'Chancellor', and suddenly he has a contract on March 21. Come on, Joel, who are you kidding?
We wrote about Joel Klein violating Education Law section 2590-h in September 2006 (NYC Chancellor Joel Klein Must, According to Education Law, Have a Contract. He Doesn't. by Betsy Combier). He must have a contract, but as of June 2005, he did not have one.

Michael Best, General Counsel of the NYC Board of Education (the name was never changed legally to the "department" of Education), and I ended up in the same restaurant coincidentally on the same day that I picked up the contracts of former Chancellors Harold Levy and Rudy Crew. I asked him if Joel Klein really did not have a contract, and he laughed at that. He told me, "Betsy, no one has any contracts - I don't, Joel Klein doesn't, all the deputy chancellors and deputy mayors don't, no one does."

I asked him, "So, how can we hold Joel Klein accountable for anything?" And Michael Best said, "Read the Chancellor's Regulations."

On March 19, 2007, at the Panel For Educational Policy (see I asked the "Chancellor" to provide New York City with transparency by putting the check register of the New York City BOE online. My friend Peyton Wolcott in Texas has started the National School District Honor Roll and agreed to start the ball rolling in NYC. I started my testimony with a request for financial transparency and putting the NYCBOE check registers online as in Texas by saying, "Hello, my name is Betsy Combier, and I'm with Hello, Mr. Klein. You will notice that I do not call you 'Chancellor' Klein, because you do not have a contract, and I just cannot call you by that name."

Joel Klein looked shocked that I would say he had no contract, and immediately said, "That's not true, I do have a contract!" He turned to his left, where Michael Best was sitting, and Mr. Best laughed and whispered sweet nothings into Joel's ear.

So, I asked for it (see my request below)

Susan Holtzman, the Central Records Access officer of the Office of Legal Services, immediately answered by FOIL request with Joel Klein's employment contract. Firstly, I dont think this is a contract; secondly, I dont think Joel Klein signed it; and thirdly, I believe that they knew that Joel Klein could not continue to violate the law, he had to have a, the BOE made it up on tuesday, March 20, 2007, and back-dated it to November 14, 2002.

That's what I think.

Betsy Combier

Below is my request:

From: Betsy []
Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2007 7:26 AM
To: 'Holtzman Susan'
Cc: 'Michael Best'; 'Longoria Carragher Arlene'; 'Kicinski Christine J'
Subject: FOIL Request From The E-Accountability Foundation

The E-Accountability Foundation
We Speak Up!
315 East 65th Street
New York, NY 10021

Betsy Combier, President and Campaign Sponsor
March 21, 2007

Ms. Susan W. Holtzman
Central Records Access Officer
Office of Legal Services
New York City Department of Education
52 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007

Dear Ms. Holtzman:

Under the provisions of the New York Freedom of Information Law, Article 6 of the Public Officers Law, ( I request that you give me a copy of the contract of Joel Klein, who is taking the title “Chancellor” of the New York City Board of Education. I request all amendments, addendums, notes, memos, and emails that reference this contract or are attached to it from your desk with your name, that of Michael Best, Ms. Kicinsky, Judy Nathan, or anyone who works for the NYC BOE.

On March 19, 2007, at the Panel For Educational Policy meeting, Joel Klein told everyone that he had a contract, despite your denying this in a previous FOIL request.

If you have any questions relating to the specific records or portions being sought, please contact me at the address above so that we may discuss them.

As you know, the Freedom of Information Law requires that an agency respond to a request within five business days of receipt of a request. Therefore, I would appreciate a response as soon as possible and look forward to hearing from you shortly. If, for any reason any portion of my request is denied, please inform me of the reasons for the denial in writing and provide the name and address of the person or body to whom an appeal should be directed.


Betsy Combier



Mr. Michael Best

Ms. Arlene Longoria Carragher

The E-Accountability Foundation

Ms. Christine J. Kicinski
Joel Klein

And here is Susan Holtzman's reply and Joel Klein's "contract".

Freedom of Information FAQs are here

Improving Agency Disclosure of Information Executive Order 13,392

New York State Governor George Pataki Signs New Freedom of Information Law

FCC Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

© 2003 The E-Accountability Foundation