New York State Freedom Trail Commission reports & study

Christopher Philippo filed this request with the New York State Education Department of New York.
Tracking # FL-CE-16/27
Est. Completion Feb. 22, 2016
Status
No Responsive Documents

Communications

From: Christopher Philippo

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the New York State Freedom of Information Law (1977 N.Y. Laws ch. 933), I hereby request the following records:

The annual reports mandated by N.Y. EDUC. LAW § 233-b (3) "The commission shall report annually to the governor, the legislature, and the board of regents for a period of five years from the date of establishment of the commission, but beginning no later than January first, nineteen hundred ninety-nine"
The study mandated by N.Y. EDUC. LAW § 233-c "The commissioner shall conduct a study which shall include, but not be limited to, documenting the history of the freedom trail and underground railroad including identifying sites most likely to be eligible for inclusion on the national or state registers of historic places, or both; providing for the historic research and compilation of contemporaneous reports and records necessary to document the underground railroad sites in New York state, as well as the contributions of individuals and organizations who participated in the activities of the underground railroad; and developing cultural and historic guidebooks, local histories and the publication of public and private documents relating to the underground railroad. The commissioner shall consult with the commissioner of the office of parks, recreation and historic preservation and the national park service in the conduct of the study"
both sections enacted by L. 1997, ch. 574 http://digitalcollections.archives.nysed.gov/index.php/Detail/Object/Show/object_id/34488

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

If my request is too broad or does not reasonably describe the records, please contact me via email so that I may clarify my request, and when appropriate inform me of the manner in which records are filed, retrieved or generated.

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, address and email address of the person or body to whom an appeal should be directed.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 5 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Christopher K. Philippo

From: FOIL

Dear Mr. Philippo:

This is to acknowledge receipt of your Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request for State Education Department (SED) records regarding New York State Freedom Trail Commission reports. The reference number for this request is FL-CE-16/27. Please be advised that you will hear further from the Department by approximately February 22, 2016 as to whether your request will be granted or denied in whole or in part.

SED charges the statutorily permitted fee of $.25 per page for duplication of records requested under FOIL (Public Officers Law §87[1][b][iii]). There is no provision in law or regulation requiring the waiver of this fee. Payment must be made to the NYS Education Department by check or money order. Do not send any payment until you are notified that your request is granted and informed of the charge for your request. If your request is for electronic records and your request is granted, the records will be provided to you in that format.

If your request is granted one of the following will happen:

1. If your request can be filled immediately, and the total duplication fee is under $25.00, staff will forward the requested records to you with a statement of what you owe for the duplication fee. Or:

2. If the total duplication fee for your request is $25.00 or more (100 pages), you will be advised of the page count and duplication fee owed in advance of duplicating the records. Upon receipt of payment, staff will duplicate and mail the requested records. Or:

3. If it will take time to locate and/or duplicate the records you have requested, you will be given a date by which you will be told the page count and duplication fee for your request.
Regards,
Records Access Officer

From: Jennifer Lemak

Dear Chris Philippo:

The New York State Museum History Office has no records pertaining to the New York State Freedom Trail Commission. I am under the impression that the New York State Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation were involved with this commission.

Also note that there is a published book on the commission that may be helpful: New York State Freedom Trail Program Study : Report to the New York State Freedom Trail Commission, published by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 1999.

Sincerely,
Jennifer Lemak

Jennifer Lemak, Ph.D.
Chief Curator of History
New York State Museum
3021 Cultural Education Center
Albany, New York 12230

(518) 474-5842
jennifer.lemak@nysed.gov<mailto:jennifer.lemak@nysed.gov>

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From: Christopher Philippo

N.Y. EDUC. LAW. § 233-b (1) (a), part of N.Y. EDUC. LAW art. 5 "University of the State of New York," states "There is hereby established within the department the New York state freedom trail commission." There's no indication in the law it would be established within the NYS Museum. The law indicated members of the commission were to include three members appointed by the Board of Regents and the commissioner of education or designee, and the annual reports were to be made to, among others, the Board of Regents. NYS Education Department Counsel Kathy A. Ahearn's August 18, 1997 letter in the Governor's Bill Jacket, L. 1997, ch. 574 stated "This bill also would amend subdivisions 1 and 3 of section 801 of the Education Law to require the Board of Regents to include the Freedom Trail and Underground Railroad in the course of study to be followed by all schools within New York State. The State Education Department recommends approval of this bill which will help document and preserve the history of the Freedom Trail and the Underground Railroad." As such the response would seem to need to come from a Records Access Officer or other person associated with the Commissioner of Education and/or the NYS Board of Regents, not the NYS Museum.

Should it help in locating responsive records, the NYS Commissioner of Education during the time the annual reports were legally mandated was Richard Paul Mills, and the Board of Regents for at least part of the time appear to have been Carl T. Hayden, Edward J. Meyer, Carlos R. Carballada, Diane O'Neill McGivern, Saul B. Cohen, Robert M. Bennett, Robert M. Johnson, Peter M. Pryor, Anthony S. Bottar, Merryl H. Tisch, Harold O. Levy, Ena L. Farley, Geraldine Chapey, and Ricardo Enrique Oquendo. Anthony S. Bottar and Merryl H. Tisch are currently identified as the Vice Chancellor and Chancellor, respectively, of the Board of Trustees - they presumably would not have rose to those ranks by ignoring the NYS Education Law and its legislative intent, and the recommendation of the NYS Education Department, and their sworn Oaths of Office to uphold the law to the best of their abilities. They should be able to assist, if need be, in locating the legally mandated reports.

The reply from the NYS Museum, even though it was not the correct subagency and the FOIL request has not been fully responded to or denied, was appreciated. While the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation was to be involved, the law did not provide for the creation of the commission within that office, and NYSOPRHP's August 21, 1977 Memorandum in the Governor's Bill Jacket, L. 1997, ch. 574 states, legislation would establish within the State Education Department, a New York State Freedom Trail Commission."

The study by the Schomburg Center does appear to be responsive to the study mandated by N.Y. EDUC. LAW § 233-c. On page 4 of the center's report it states, "In the fall of 1997, The Department of Education contracted the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture to plan and conduct this statewide study."

The study by the Schomburg Center is not responsive to the annual reports mandated by N.Y. EDUC. LAW § 233-b (3). The Schomburg Center's study itself notes on page 4, "The commission is required to report the results of its efforts to the governor annually, the legislature and the Board of Regents for a period of five years beginning January 1, 1999," from which statement one might infer that no reports had been submitted in 1997 or 1998. As such, the annual reports would presumably be dated 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003.

From: FOIL

Dear Mr. Philippo:

Thank you for the clarification. With this additional information, we will continue our search for responsive records and will get back to you with a final response as soon as possible.

Thank you,
Records Access Officer

From: Christopher Philippo

Might the final response be forthcoming soon?

From: FOIL

Dear Mr. Philippo:

I am checking with the office responsible for this information and hope to have a response to you soon.

Thank you for your patience,
Records Access Officer

From: FOIL

Please be advised the response below was sent out on January 29, 2016. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Records Access Officer

Dear Chris Philippo:

The New York State Museum History Office has no records pertaining to the New York State Freedom Trail Commission. I am under the impression that the New York State Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation were involved with this commission.

Also note that there is a published book on the commission that may be helpful: New York State Freedom Trail Program Study : Report to the New York State Freedom Trail Commission, published by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 1999.

Sincerely,
Jennifer Lemak

Jennifer Lemak, Ph.D.
Chief Curator of History
New York State Museum
3021 Cultural Education Center
Albany, New York 12230

(518) 474-5842
jennifer.lemak@nysed.gov<mailto:jennifer.lemak@nysed.gov>

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