City investigation chief allegedly overstepped authority
The city’s top investigator abused his authority by seizing control of the independent office that investigates the school system and firing its commissioner, a new investigation found Thursday.
But the probe of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters concluded with the recommendation of what amounts to a slap on the wrist.
He was instructed to write a letter of apology for the “discourteous and unprofessional manner in which he conducted himself” at a meeting with the fired staffers in late February, according to the findings of independent investigator James McGovern.
The results of the probe by McGovern — a former federal prosecutor — were first revealed by the Department of Investigation itself.
“Accepting oversight, even when you are the subject of that oversight, is critical for good government,” Peters said in a statement. “Now that this process is complete, I look forward to continuing the systemic and important oversight work of DOI.”
According to DOI, the probe found that Peters didn’t have authority to take over the Office of the Special Commissioner Investigations of the city’s schools, and firing its commissioner, Anastasia Coleman, and general counsel, Daniel Schlachet.
They were both ordered restored to their former positions with back pay.
SCI will also once again be separated out from the Department of Investigation.
The whistleblowers had both complained to the city’s Law Department about Peters’ actions.
In response, the Law Department and Peters agreed to launch an independent probe of the incident in April.
Later that month, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order that gave mayors the power moving forward to approve all removals and appointments of the special commissioner of investigation.
For more than a year, de Blasio has been eyeing ways to remove Peters following a string of brutal probes by his office of the administration — including of NYCHA and the Department of Homeless Services.
Eric Phillips, a mayoral spokesman, said City Hall won’t comment until it sees McGovern’s report.
“We don’t yet have access to the details. We’ll decline comment beyond that,” Phillips said.
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