A little-known official is responsible for more than 600 schools in the West Midlands and could eventually oversee all 2,479 of them, MPs have warned.
Only one in ten parents have ever heard of the Regional Schools Commissioner, a Commons inquiry has been told.
But they are overseeing headteachers, encouraging academies to take over failing schools and influencing government policy.
The influential Commons Education Committee has warned that Commissioners must become more accountable to parents and the public.
The cross-party committee, whose members include Black Country MP Ian Austin (Lab Dudley North) and Shropshire MP Lucy Allan (Con Telford), expressed concern in a new report.
Regional schools commissioners were appointed partly because of criticism that academies and free schools, which are independent from local education authorities, were accountable to nobody except the Education Secretary at Westminster.
The West Midlands Commissioner is Pank Patel, previously headteacher of Wood Green Academy in Wednesbury.
He took on the role in September 2014 and is responsible for making decisions about academies and free schools in Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Herefordshire, Sandwell, Shropshire, Solihull. Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent, Telford and Wrekin, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wolverhampton and Worcestershire.
He also covers Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, though not part of the West Midlands.
Before the introduction of academies, the education departments of local councils, known as education authorities, would have been responsible for overseeing local schools.
There are 276 secondary academies in the region covered by Mr Patel – a majority of all secondary schools – and 361 primary academies, about one in five of all primaries.
However, the Government’s goal is for all 2,479 schools in the region to become academies, and one of Mr Patel’s responsibilities is to encourage more schools to convert.
Giving evidence to the inquiry, Mr Patel said he had a “vision” for the West Midlands which included encouraging successful academy schools to take over schools in special measures.
And he confirmed that he now held many schools to account, saying: “Local authorities do not hold those trusts to account – that is my job.”
He also told MPs that the eight regional commissioners across the country had a say in education policy. He said: “We already have an influence on policy-making in terms of what happens in our region.”
But PTA UK, the body representing Parent Teacher Associations, warned the inquiry that only one in ten parents knew about regional schools commissioners.
And the MPs said in their report that education professionals “were concerned parents were confused about whom to contact to discuss concerns about a school”.
They said: “Regional schools commissioners occupy an increasingly powerful position in the education system, but their responsibilities in relation to other components of the system remain unclear to many of our witnesses.
“The landscape of oversight, intervention, inspection and accountability is now complex and difficult for many of those involved in education, not least parents, to navigate.”
And the MPs warned that regional schools commissioners weren’t accountable to parents.
“We believe their level of operational autonomy makes them a candidate for a more direct form of accountability than would be the case for other senior civil servants, and we recommend that the Government consider further what forms that accountability might take.”
Neil Carmichael, chairman of the Education Committee, said: “It’s hardly surprising that most people have never heard of regional schools commissioners, and even those who have are unclear about their role.”