NYC’s Fariña Shakes Up City’s School Superintendents


New York City Chancellor Carmen Fariña has announced that 15 out of 42 superintendents in NYC schools are being replaced.

Over the summer Fariña announced every superintendent would have to reapply for their positions. Tuesday she released the outcome: 8 new superintendents were hired this fall, and seven who filled vacancies last spring will continue on.

Out of the 15 who are no longer superintendents, seven resigned in the spring, two found other department jobs, two retired and four will remain employed until December 31, unless they find other work in the agency, reports Leslie Brody for the Wall Street Journal.

The new superintendents were chosen after a hiring process that included interviews, essays and letters of reference. The candidates were required to have at least 10 years of instructional experience and three years as a principal or in a major supervisory role. However, two superintendents who did not meet those standards have been grandfathered in.

Fariña’s goal is to create a handpicked cadre of lieutenants capable of whipping the nation’s largest school system into shape. They start their jobs Tuesday.

“We’re going to get it right,” said Fariña, 71, who’s worked in city schools for five decades. “We’re making sure every child is in a school where they can be successful.”

Fariña claims that this is the first time in history that an entire division of senior education officials had been required to reapply for their positions, reports Ben Chapman for the New York Daily News.

The superintendents will be expected to visit all of the schools they are responsible for and make classroom visits to evaluate which teachers are doing well are which are not. They will help principals target problems and help get them resources to fix them and also report to Fariña which principals are doing their job and which should be replaced.

This will be a departure from the changes the Bloomberg administration made to the school support system in 2007. They had created a system of “networks” leaving the principals with autonomy and very little guidance and support from the superintendents. The networks were not geographically based, as superintendents are, but rather principals chose one of 60 networks to join, reports Kate Taylor from The New York Times.

Fariña’s plan is to give power back to the superintendents, who will report directly to her. “People ask what the biggest difference is since before I became chancellor,” she said. “One of the things, I would love to be able to get answers with just one phone call. And that’s the litmus test.”

But Aaron Short from the New York Post writes that the new superintendents are “not so super”. Seven of the 15 superintendents Fariña hired were rated below average.

Superintendents Maria Lopez, Mabel Muñiz-Sarduy, Leticia Rodriguez-Rosario, Danielle Giunta and Rafaela Espinal were principals at primary schools that received poor ratings on school progress report cards or whose students scored below city averages on state exams this year.Muñiz-Sarduy, Lopez and Rodriguez-Rosario all led schools where students struggled on the state’s tough Common Core tests.

Fariña insists that they will get the job done.