Controversy Grows Around Panel That Will Evaluate Black

The panel that will evaluate whether publishing executive Cathie Black is qualified to be the next New York City Schools Chancellor will meet on Tuesday, but the panel itself is now surrounded by controversy.

The eight member panel that will advise State Education Commissioner David Steiner includes three former school officials who worked under outgoing Chancellor Joel Klein as well as New York Historical Society President, Louise Mirrer. 

Mirrer has been the subject of news reports because of the personal and professional connections she has to Mayor Bloomberg. The New York Times reports, Bloomberg personally donated $475,000 to the museum she runs and she is the chairwoman for an academy for which Bloomberg helped raised millions of dollars.

This is technically not a conflict of interest according to Gene Russianoff, senior attorney with the New York Public Interest Research Group, because it's just an advisory panel, he says. But, "It raises concerns that people have about the independence about the panel," Russianoff said.

A spokesman for Steiner says Mirrer was chosen because she leads a major cultural institution and because she was previously vice chancellor of academic affairs at the City University.

Ultimately, the Commissioner will decide whether Black is qualified to serve.