2018-02-28 / Front Page

Newly Picked Schools Chancellor Turns Down Position In Surprising Announcement

By Richard Gentilviso
News that Alberto Carvalho would be the next Chancellor of New York City’s public schools and of two closings of public schools in Queens turned out to be premature last week.

Reports of a new chancellor and a meeting of the Panel for Educational Policy to vote on whether to close MS 53 and PS/MS 42 in the Rockaway Peninsula occurred almost simultaneously on February 28. By the next day, neither had happened.

Carvalho, the superintendent of Miami-Dade County schools in Florida, had apparently accepted the job, then reversed his decision in an unexpected call to Mayor Bill de Blasio on March 1.

“I will say that, I think like many of you, I was very surprised by Mr. Carvalho’s decision. I thought we had found the right candidate,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio at a press conference on March 1. De Blasio said he had offered the job to Carvalho over a week before and he accepted.

The Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) was scheduled to vote on 13 proposed closures of schools, the largest number since de Blasio’s term in office began. By 2 am, 10 of the closures were approved, one was postponed, and two, MS 53 and PS/MS 42, were not approved by the PEP.

“The message is clear: we are not giving up on our kids,” said Borough President Melinda Katz in a March 1 press release. “Queens thanks the panel members for listening to the communities, for voting with the best interests of the students in mind and heart and for giving our Renewal Schools a fair chance to succeed.”

The PEP vote of six in favor, six opposed and one abstaining, did not carry the resolution to close the two Far Rockaway schools and Katz thanked her Borough Representative Deborah Dillingham “for her tenacity in following through for our kids.”

After nearly eight hours, the PEP vote saw the five borough president appointees and mayoral appointee T. Elzora Cleveland voting against closing MS 53 and PS/MS 42 and six other mayoral appointees voting in favor. It was mayoral appointee and former Queens District 30 Community Education Council President Isaac Carmignani who cast the two abstentions that resulted in a tie vote, falling short of the majority necessary to close the two schools.

Mayor de Blasio said the nationwide search for a new Chancellor has resumed.

“We have been immediately reaching out to candidates,” he said, adding that Chancellor Carmen Fariña will continue in her role until the end of March.

“We will have a new Chancellor soon,” he said.

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