School Board member Judith P. Fisher announced she has asked State Education Commissioner Thomas Sobol to investigate the appointments of James M. Kane and Brian Hayden to top administrative jobs.
Mrs. Fisher distributed copies of a letter during a meeting of the Board of Education Wednesday night.
The letter triggered an angry response from John C. Doyle, an at-large member.
"I think it's ridiculous," said Doyle, whose campaign manager, Hayden, was appointed director of the Plant Division, a post that pays $45,815 a year.
Mrs. Fisher's letter also challenged the $64,546-a-year job that went to James M. Kane, who for the last three years has owned a building with James W. Comerford Jr., board member from the Park District.
Doyle, who also is city youth director, is one of five board members attacked by a parents group for allegedly meeting secretly and undermining school desegregation. Sobol is expected to formally announce soon that he will send fact finders to Buffalo to investigate the claims of the parents group.
Along with her letter, Mrs. Fisher sent Sobol the copy of a federal indictment of Queens School Board members accused of trying to force the hiring of a campaign manager and wife.
"It appears to me that the situation in Buffalo is remarkably similar to that in Queens," Mrs. Fisher's letter states.
The letter outlines how she supported Victor J. Turchiarelli of the West District in his unsuccessful attempt to have the entire board seek an investigation.
Mrs. Fisher and Turchiarelli contend that a newly appointed five-member ethics panel, reviewing the Comerford-Kane connection, is stacked in favor of Kane. She said the panel is dominated by people in some way linked to the alleged deal, including interim Schools Superintendent Albert Thompson, board President Da vid B. Kelly and Corporation Counsel Samuel Houston, whose office has consistently backed Kelly.
Doyle, after reading the letter, objected to Mrs. Fisher's referring to the Queens indictment in connection with the hirings of Kane and Hayden.
"You continue to reach an all-time new low every two weeks here," he said. "You certainly have a right to do it. Don't do it on my time."
"Mr. Doyle, I'm not going to tell you what you should be doing," Mrs. Fisher replied. "And I hope you won't continue to tell me what to do."
For the first time, Kane was present during a board meeting.
Recommended by Comerford, Kane was the only candidate Thompson considered for the post of executive assistant. The acting superintendent backed the appointment to avoid the creation of the post of comptroller, which would control all money and answer only to the board.
Turchiarelli, who questions Kane's qualifications for the job, asked Thompson to spell out the facts surrounding the post, starting with the job title. The West District member asked for the job description, an outline of duties and educational requirements.
"The qualifications are determined by the Board of Education," said Thompson, who launched a search this week to attempt to find an exact job description that may have been approved by the board in 1982 or 1983.
Turchiarelli noted that, so far, Thompson has failed in the search.
"What safeguards do we have that we are not going to pull anyone off the street?" he asked.
The board, however, gave a vote of confidence in Thompson's performance as interim superintendent. The vote was 7-1, with Turchiarelli dissenting.
"We are a divided board," Turchiarelli said. "It's not business as usual any more. To me it's not politics as usual. It's politics at its worst."
Turchiarelli noted that the confidence vote was in reaction to a letter he sent Thompson suggesting that he seek to rescind the Kane resolution or hand in his resignation.
"There is no need for you to approve," he told the other board members. "It was my action. I'm not sent here to be liked."
On another issue, the board heard school officials outline a $329 million budget request.
Doyle, noting that the board must submit the request to the city by Feb. 1, called it a "guesstimate" that is developed months before city or state revenues are known.
"It is all very questionable," Doyle said.
Also Wednesday, Executive Secretary Sharon Comerford of the city Civil Service Commission said she was prevented by a personal emergency Tuesday from answering a call seeking information on a change seven years ago of Kane's executive assistant post to "exempt."
"There would be a record if the position was a competitive position and was changed to exempt," Ms. Comerford said. "I can check our files and do research."