MANHATTAN — Comptroller Scott Stringer says he has not received more than 70 percent of contracts for universal pre-K providers, which means his office won't have time to do an independent review before school begins next week.
Stringer's office has received only 141 of 500 contracts for independent groups that will offer classes for preschoolers under Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to offer universal pre-K.
“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," Stringer said in a statement.
Stringer's office says it has found issues with several pre-K contracts it has reviewed, including one vendor who had a former employee who was charged with conspiracy to commit child pornography and another vendor that had six violations for failing to have personnel properly screened.
The de Blasio administration refuted some of Stringer's claims.
A mayoral spokesman said almost half of universal pre-K contracts have been registered if 128 contracts from the Administration for Children's Services are factored in. This time last year, only 19 of 86 new pre-K contracts had been submitted, a total of 22 percent.
The mayor's office also said that the contract issues raised by Stringer have already been resolved. The agency with the employee charged in the child pornography conspiracy acted quickly when the situation arose and has excellent background check procedures, de Blasio's office said.
The vendor with the six violations previously had missing paperwork but submitted it in April, the mayor's office added.
The comptroller's office is not legally required to review pre-K contracts before services can begin.
"We will, of course, make sure the Comptroller has the documents he needs to register contracts in a timely way. But make no mistake, we are moving forward aggressively to launch our programs this September and will not allow administrative paperwork to stand in the way of educating thousands of children," de Blasio said in a statement.