City Comptroller Scott Stringer is raising safety concerns with Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan for universal pre-kindergarten, days before the school year is set to begin.
Stringer says he has not even seen 70 percent of the contracts with private organizations set to open universal pre-k classes, contracts he's charged with vetting and approving.
Stringer says his office has to review 500 private service providers that the city is using, but so far, his office has only gotten 141 of them.
Wednesday night, Stringer sent a statement to the press saying the de Blasio administration not only should have sent all of these contracts to the comptroller's officer sooner, but also, at this point, the mayor's office needs to tell parents whether or not their children are attending a program that's been approved.
Stringer said, "Universal Pre-K holds the promise of transforming our City's educational process, which is why we have to get it right. But we cannot sacrifice safety in the name of expediency."
The comptroller's office has found what it says are significant problems already, including a vendor with a former employee charged with conspiracy to commit child pornography, as well as a vendor that had six violations issued for failing to have required personnel screened with the New York State Central Register of Child Abuse and Mistreatment. Stringer says those concerns have since been addressed.
The mayor responded to the comptroller's concerns with a statement, reassuring parents that the programs are safe.
"We scrutinize every pre-K center the same way a parent would, because we're parents, too," the statement reads, in part. "From the FDNY to the Health Department to the Department of Education to the Department of Investigations, the authorities New Yorkers trust to keep them safe have been readying programs for months. Parents can rest assured: these high-quality programs will be ready, they will be safe, and they will meet the very highest standards."