The city is amending its plans to ask every school superintendent to reapply for their jobs after outcry over the ouster of popular superintendent in western Queens.
Families in District 30 were notified last week that Philip Composto, who has been superintendent for 14 years during his 40-year Department of Education career, was apparently not a finalist for the superintendent role in the new system implemented by Schools Chancellor David Banks.
Banks has vowed to tackle bureaucracy in the DOE, including requiring all superintendents to reapply for their roles. But many parents in District 30, as well as elected officials, rallied to Composto’s defense last week, calling on the city to shed light on what they called a “shrouded, mysterious and nonsensical decision.”
Now, the city says all 45 incumbent superintendents, including Composto, will be considered for rehiring along with other finalists, and that the DOE will be “significantly expanding the involvement of parental feedback” in the superintendent process with virtual community town halls.
“The central pillar of this administration is parent and community engagement," Banks said in a statement. "We've worked with [Community Education Council] and Presidents' Council members in creating a historically inclusive hiring process, and after listening to community feedback we are inviting all incumbent superintendents to be interviewed as part of the community process."
Banks will make the final decision on superintendent hires after getting input from community education councils and parent councils, as well as feedback from the three main unions that work with the school system: United Federation of Teachers, the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, and DC 37.
One education expert said, despite the changes, the DOE’s superintendent selection process still does not seem to be transparent.
“Its centrally-managed, opaque preliminary stages leading to public presentations by ‘two or three’ finalists in each district followed by legally-required consultation prior to the Chancellor's ultimate decision is a terribly narrow process, perhaps more swagger than substance,” said David C. Bloomfield, Professor of Education Leadership, Law & Policy, Brooklyn College & The CUNY Graduate Center, in a statement. “At a minimum, the finalists should be announced immediately and their written application materials made available for public inspection.”
Banks reiterated that the ultimate decision of who will lead the city’s school districts remains with himself and Mayor Eric Adams.
“Superintendents will lead our schools this fall with significantly expanded responsibilities and are tasked with making our vision for schools a reality,” Banks said in the statement. “At the end of the day, it is the Mayor and I who will be held accountable for their impact on student achievement. When I make the final determination of who will best serve all students in each district, that decision will combine the passionate feedback of parents and community members and each candidate’s ability to articulate a comprehensive vision for the future.”
To find out more and register for the community town halls, visit learndoe.org/supt2022.