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November 20, 2013
HVA charter high school's high-profile principal resigns abruptly
The high-profile principal hired to turn around a struggling charter high school has resigned abruptly, just months into the school year. Jason Griffiths, who…
August 21, 2013
Rouhanifard, former NYC official, to head Camden, N.J., schools
Department of Education officials Marc Sternberg and Paymon Rouhanifard spoke to the City Council in 2012. Rouhanifard, who has worked in Newark since last year, was named superintendent of Camden, N.J., schools today. A former top New York City schools official is New Jersey’s pick to run the Camden school district, which the state took over this year because of poor performance and mismanagement. Paymon Rouhanifard, who has been a top deputy in Newark since last November, will take over the struggling district as its first state superintendent. N.J. Gov. Chris Christie announced Rouhanifard’s appointment this morning during a press conference at H.B. Wilson Elementary School in Camden. The choice signals the direction that Christie and N.J. schools chief Christopher Cerf are planning for the 14,000-student, 30-school district near Philadelphia that Christie has called "a human catastrophe." Since announcing in March that they planned to make Camden the fourth urban district under their authority, officials have overhauled staff, curriculum, and other resources in the district and flooded it with people with experience in education and management. “Paymon has a proven track record of improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of students in Newark and New York City, and brings innovative leadership that Camden needs moving forward," Christie said in a statement. "Under his leadership, I know Camden’s schools will improve on the progress of these last few months.”
April 12, 2013
Operations chief exits DOE, Sternberg promoted in reshuffling
Veronica Conforme testified at a City Council budget hearing in 2011 alongside Chancellor Dennis Walcott. Conforme announced her departure from the Department of Education today. The Department of Education's chief operating officer is leaving to join the nonprofit organization headed by the architect of the Common Core standards, Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced today. Veronica Conforme, who has been the department's top operations officer since October 2011, will become vice president of the "Access to Rigor Campaign" at the College Board, according to a department press release. The College Board, which Common Core architect David Coleman took over last year, is rapidly becoming a top destination for people leaving urban school systems. Jean Claude-Brizard, a former city Department of Education official who resigned as Chicago's top schools official shortly after the teachers union strike there last year, recently became a senior advisor at the organization. Conforme's departure comes during a period of growing uncertainty at the Department of Education.
April 4, 2011
Santiago Taveras, public face of DOE, leaving for private sector
The city's first-ever community engagement czar is the latest in a string of high-level departures from the Department of Education since the departure of Chancellor Joel Klein. Santiago Taveras, deputy chancellor for community engagement, is leaving the department to become a vice president at Cambridge Education, the consulting firm that originally conducted quality reviews in city schools. Taveras is the third member of the chancellor's leadership team to resign since Cathie Black replaced Klein in November. Taveras, who worked for the city schools for 22 years, was deputy chancellor for teaching and learning from May 2009 until April 2010, when the DOE eliminated its teaching and learning division. He then became the city's first community engagement chief, managing the way the department explained proposals for policy changes, such as school closures, to the public. In recent months, he had become the voice of the department at public meetings, sometimes staying long after other officials to take questions and speak with parents and school leaders. A former principal, Taveras was one of the aides Eric Nadelstern name-checked as someone trained to pick up the slack after the former chief schools officer resigned in January. In addition to Nadelstern, whose position was eliminated after he left, the department also replaced finance director Photeine Anagnastopoulos, who quit the day after Klein announced his departure. The department is looking for a replacement for Taveras, according to the city's press release. Here's the city's press release:
March 11, 2011
City begins internal review of schools' technology department
Major changes could be coming to the Department of Education’s information technology department. DOE Chief Information Officer Ted Brodheim, who has held that position for the last four years, is leaving the department, according to an email from Chief Operating Officer Sharon Greenberger that was obtained by GothamSchools. Brodheim's deputy, Steve Vigilante, is replacing him on an interim basis. Greenberger's email also indicates that, in the wake of Brodheim's departure, she is beginning an internal review of the information technology department. Her email describes the review as "a focused analysis of the budgets, grants, consultant-usage, contracts, HR, organizational structure, space, and procurement for the division." The DOE did not respond today when asked why the review was being done — I'll update when they do. A former DOE employee who worked closely with both Brodheim and Vigilante said the change was interesting because of the mens' backgrounds.
March 4, 2011
Former Bloomberg official (and critic) set to join Regents
A long-time educator known for quietly challenging the Bloomberg administration even when she was a part of it, and for doing so with success, is expected to join the state's governing board of education. Kathleen Cashin, a professor at Fordham University and former school support network leader, has been nominated for the Brooklyn position on the New York State Board of Regents, according to several Brooklyn members of the State Assembly. The 17-member board acts as a powerful school board for all of New York State, setting policy on graduation requirements and, more recently, commissioning an overhaul of the state's standardized tests. It’s not clear how Cashin’s likely appointment — she is expected to be confirmed at a joint session of the Senate and Assembly next week — will affect the board's dynamics. Led by Chancellor Merryl Tisch, the board has sometimes infuriated city officials by calling their test scores and graduation rates into question while, at other times, it has validated some of former Chancellor Joel Klein's efforts to link students' data to their teachers. During her decades of working in the city schools, she rose from being the principal of P.S. 193 The Gil Hodges Elementary School to the leader of the Knowledge Network Learning Support Organization, one of the groups that schools hire for support. She became especially well-known for her success as the superintendent of region five — a now-defunct version of a school district — where her schools posted some of the largest gains on the state tests.
December 2, 2010
City fills top finance role with veteran of Klein administration
The Department of Education is filling its top finance role, empty for three weeks, with a veteran of outgoing Chancellor Joel Klein's central administration. Veronica Conforme will serve as the department's new Chief Financial Officer, city officials announced today. Conforme is taking over part of the role that was previously filled by Photeine Anagnostopoulos, who served as Deputy Chancellor for Finance and Technology until she resigned the day after Chancellor Joel Klein announced that he was leaving. Conforme joined the DOE in 2003 and has worked as the Deputy Director of Finance and Administration as well as Chief Operating Officer for the Empowerment Schools network. She's currently the Deputy Chief Schools Officer for Operations in the Division of School Support and Instruction. Conforme will not have a "deputy chancellor" title, but she will be part of the Cabinet, the elite group of advisors who have the most access to the chancellor. A DOE spokeswoman said that the department was still considering who should take on Anagnostopoulos' work in the area of technology.
November 12, 2010
New school board member brings ties to the charter world
The steady stream of resignations and new appointments at the Department of Education continues today with citywide school board chairman David Chang, who is stepping down. Chang resigned from the Panel for Educational Policy last Friday, November 5, and Mayor Bloomberg is replacing him with Robert Reffkin, a vice president at Goldman Sachs. He is also the former board chairman of Bronx Success Academy I, the newest school in Eva Moskowitz's Success Charter Network. A spokeswoman for Success Charter Network said Reffkin resigned from his post on Tuesday. The panel is dominated by the mayor — he appoints eight of its 13 members — and has never voted against any of his policies. Its members have the final say on which schools the city will close, which ones it will put in the same buildings, and whether contracts over $1 million are approved. This year, the board will have to vote on as many as 60 school closure proposals. As a member of the panel, Reffkin will be in the position of having to vote on important space-sharing proposals between charter and district schools. While these plans are often controversial — district school parents and teachers often argue that their schools can't spare space for the charters — they could become especially complicated for Reffkin because of his ties to a charter school network.
November 9, 2010
Chancellor Klein's exit: the best kept secret in the DOE
Chancellor Joel Klein leaves the podium after discussing his plans to resign and join the News Corporation. News that Chancellor Joel Klein will step down has caught his staff — even his most senior advisors — by surprise and sparked debate over whether he was pushed to resign. Department of Education employees, some of them eight-year veterans with strong personal ties to the chancellor, learned of Klein's resignation at a press conference this afternoon. And they didn't meet his replacement, Hearst Magazines chairwoman Cathleen Black, until after the mayor and chancellor addressed reporters. "I was literally scheduled for a 4 o'clock meeting, walked in, and watched a bunch of people going 'Oh my God,'" said a DOE official. Said another: "It's the best kept secret in the history of the DOE." Even Black's meeting with teachers union president Michael Mulgrew, which Mayor Bloomberg mentioned at the news conference, was an accidental encounter.
November 8, 2010
Head of student enrollment retires from the office she built
The head of student enrollment is retiring from the office she created after overseeing massive changes in how students apply and are accepted to city high schools. In an email, Chancellor Joel Klein said that Elizabeth Sciabarra, who founded the Office of Student Enrollment in 2003, will retire at the end of this month. Sciabarra, who has worked in schools and for the Department of Education for 37 years, has been the architect overseeing how the chancellor's policy of high school choice has been enacted. Her retirement may not come at a great time for families — students' high school applications are due to the city on December 3 — and Sciabarra is known for her willingness to personally respond to parents' cries of confusion. "I would say she's done an amazing job in transforming the admissions system," said InsideSchools' editor Pam Wheaton. "That's not to say there still aren't glitches, but when InsideSchools began in 2002, it was a really flawed system."
July 31, 2009
Surprising parents, Anderson principal leaves for the suburbs
The principal of the city's most elite elementary school departed suddenly this summer, leaving the school without a permanent leader as it prepares to open in a new location. Brian Culot, principal of the Anderson School since 2006, announced just as school was ending for the summer that he would not return this fall. Instead, he is taking over at Cottage Lane Elementary School in Blauvelt, N.Y., which is near his Rockland County home. "It was a shock," said Judi Aronson, until today Anderson's network leader in the empowerment schools organization. As the community superintendent for District 3 in the 2005-2006 school year, Aronson helped bring Culot to Anderson from a downtown elementary school. Culot's announcement came at a particularly tumultuous time for the school, which was preparing to move seven blocks south into the MS 44 building on the Upper West Side.
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