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NYC introduces mixed reactions to new principals

New York City public schools on Monday announced more than a dozen new superintendents in the system’s 45 counties — a major shakeup from the upper echelons that drew a mixed reaction from parents, teachers and supporters.

All 45 district superintendents have been asked to reapply for their positions in the contentious process, designed to expand the role and give superintendents more authority in overseeing city schools.

“I’ve heard repeatedly from parents that they feel unheard, unwelcome, and underappreciated by leaders,” said School Chancellor David Banks.

“To address these challenges and implement bold solutions, we are committed to building a team of superintendents with the most ability they have had in years.”

The list included at least 12 newly assigned superintendents, plus two who changed districts and about 30 familiar faces who retained their positions.

"I've heard repeatedly from parents that they feel unheard, unwelcome, and underappreciated by leaders." said New York City School Chancellor David Banks.
“I’ve heard repeatedly from parents that they feel unheard, unwelcome, and underappreciated by leaders,” said New York City School Chancellor David Banks.
Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA

About 130 internal and external candidates applied for superintendent positions, according to the Department of Education.

“I want a one-stop shop,” Banks said of the revamped job. “I want to make these New York City public schools a more parent-friendly experience. And as a parent, I know that when in doubt, all I have to do is go to my superintendent’s office and I should be able to get all my questions answered there.”

“The superintendent’s job is a different job — it’s a much bigger job,” he added.

New York City public schools announced more than a dozen new superintendents in the system's 45 districts.
New York City public schools announced more than a dozen new superintendents in the system’s 45 districts.
Getty Images

The hiring process should involve parent and teacher engagement, although The Post reported that not all candidates made it to that round – including a popular incumbent and 40-year veteran, Superintendent Philip Composto of District 30 in Queens.

After outcry from thousands of parents and teachers, the DOE reversed course and invited all incumbents to participate in the community engagement portion of the interview. These town halls took place throughout the spring as parents and teachers questioned the district finalists.

Composto was eventually re-elected to his position.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams showed his support for the new superintendents on Monday.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams showed his support for the new superintendents on Monday.
Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA

Parents in his district were “thrilled and relieved and surprised … in the best possible way,” said Deborah Alexander, a member of parent-led Community Education Council 30.

Other district leaders weren’t so lucky.

Two longtime educators — Manhattan High School Superintendent Vivian Orlen, who oversaw the district including LaGuardia High School amid controversial changes, and District 79 Superintendent Robert Zweig — were replaced by temporary administrators on Monday.

Manhattan High School superintendent Vivian Orlen, who oversaw schools such as LaGuardia High School, was replaced with a temporary administrator.
Manhattan High School superintendent Vivian Orlen, who oversaw schools such as LaGuardia High School, was replaced with a temporary administrator.
William Farington

“I found in several districts that I wasn’t happy with any of the (finalist) candidates,” Banks said. “Some of them were existing superintendents who didn’t make their arguments strong enough to my satisfaction.”

Michael Friedman, a District 79 teacher whose programs range from incarcerated students on Rikers Island to students earning their GEDs, lost his superintendent, who spent most of his 40-year career in his schools.

“He is loved by all members of the program for his knowledge, his vision and his humanity,” said Friedman, who has also served in the district for nearly 30 years. “I’m very worried about the future of this part of the city.”

Queens Superintendent Philip Composto was re-elected after an outcry of support from parents and teachers.
Queens Superintendent Philip Composto was re-elected after an outcry of support from parents and teachers.
NYC Kids Rise

A petition in support of Zweig got more than 1,200 signatures this spring — but the DOE instead went with an acting superintendent who didn’t go through the town hall process and whose students and teachers don’t yet know.

“This is not community input,” Friedman said. “It’s a sham.”

District 15 superintendent Anita Skop in Brooklyn was also replaced with a new district leader after a local elementary school became embroiled in a recent controversy over a progressive mural that was torn down.

“Anita’s subsequent openness, grace and hard work for transparency is a master class in leadership and building trust in the community,” said Elton Ueoka Dodson, executive director of the Mural Justice Project. “We’ve lost that now.”

The group has been involved in lobbying to keep the superintendent in her position, including a letter-writing campaign that generated more than 3,000 signers.

Meanwhile, some advocates were frustrated that the DOE put the announcement on the last day of school of the year, at a time when many parents were picking up their children.

“So much for one of the Chancellor’s famous four pillars,” said Ellen McHugh, who co-chairs the parent-led Citywide Council on Special Education. “Things could get a little shaky.”

The DOE has repeatedly identified family involvement as one of its “pillars” or top priorities for the school system.

“Parent representatives and parents are always the last to find out what’s going on within the DOE regarding our students,” said Andrea Daniels, president of the District 75 Council of Presidents, which serves children with disabilities.

“I’m really fed up with this,” she added. “The Chancellor and FACE (Family and Community Empowerment) always say they want parental involvement, but only when it suits them.”

Mayor Eric Adams threw his support behind the new superintendents on Monday.

“We expect them to transform the culture of these communities that have surrendered to our school system,” Adams said.

“We brought together a group of 45 believers.”

https://nypost.com/2022/06/27/nyc-introduces-new-school-superintendents-to-mixed-reactions/ NYC introduces mixed reactions to new principals

JACLYN DIAZ

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