MATRONAGE IN EAST NEW YORK

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Every boy should do his best to help his mother, but East New York school board member DeCosta Headley, Jr. has taken his familial fealty public–by voting his mama a job as a school lunchroom aid.

On Nov. 28, Headley and five other Community School Board 19 members voted to give Martha Berry a job at P.S 328. To prevent nepotism and corrupt hiring practices, the state legislature stripped school boards of hiring power earlier this year. But the boards are still required to vote in, by a two-thirds majority, any potential employee who “is related within a third degree of consanguinity” with a board member. Surprisingly, the regulation contains no prohibition against members hiring their relatives when the matter comes to a vote. “It’s absolutely crazy,” said one central staffer at Board headquarters.

Headley, the son of controversial Democratic District Leader DeCosta Headley, says he acted ethically. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that,” he told City Limits. “That’s the law. You vote. It happens all the time here with board members. Several board members have voted on family members.” Calls to District 19 Superintendent Robert Riccobono, who initiated the appointment, were not returned.

Asked if he considered recusing himself, Headley responded, “No, it’s just an aide job assisting kids in the lunchroom.” Last summer Headley was dumped from Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger’s staff after it was disclosed he also had a job with Brooklyn State Senator John Sampson. Headley is currently an aide to Congressman Ed Towns, his father’s political ally.

CORRECTION
In the Dec. 22 issue of the Weekly, we incorrectly reported that East New York school board member DeCosta Headley, Jr. had been employed by State Senator John Sampson. Headley, in fact, was a one-time staffer with Sampson’s predecessor, Senator Howard Babbush.