Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced Feb. 26 that after three years on the job he will step down March 15, at a time when schools continue to face challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Bronx Executive Superintendent Meisha Ross Porter will replace him, making her the first black female Chancellor in the city school system's history, Mayor de Blasio announced.
Shaken by Virus Deaths
With just 10 months until a new mayoral administration begins, Mr. Carranza said he needed time to grieve the loss of loved ones who died from the virus.
“Make no mistake: I am a New Yorker. While not by birth, by choice,” he said during an emotional press briefing. “A New Yorker who has lost 11 family and close childhood friends to this pandemic. And a New Yorker who quite frankly needs to take time to grieve."
The announcement came as students and staff struggled with the challenges of blended-learning, remote-learning and the virus for months. Mr. Carranza, who previously was as Houston Schools Superintendent, was chosen as Chancellor after Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho—Mr. de Blasio’s first pick to succeed Carmen Farina—backed out.
The Mayor and Schools Chancellor have faced backlash from families and educators over the delays that have plagued the reopening of schools since the fall.
United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew credited Mr. Carranza for his work to reopen schools last fall, implying there were tensions between the Chancellor and the Mayor over that process.
'Kept Students, Staff First'
“Richard Carranza was a real partner in our efforts to open school safely. Too often he had to fight behind the scenes to keep the needs of students, staff and their families ahead of politics,” he said. “We wish him well.”
Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Mark Cannizzaro called Mr. Carranza’s resignation a “bombshell.”
“I think that when you step back and think about it, you can understand the tremendous pressures he’s been under both personally and professionally,” he told NY1.
From the beginning of his tenure, Mr. Carranza emphasized desegegrating schools, an area that Chancellor Farina was criticized for not addressing sufficiently. He has been criticized for some of his work related to diversity, notably his plan to eliminate the admissions test for specialized high schools.
Clashed Over 'Gifted' Test
But he and the Mayor grew apart over how to achieve those goals. The New York Times reported that the two men clashed over whether to offer the admissions test for the gifted-and-talented program given to 4-year-olds this year. The program has historically served a low number of black and Latino students, and the Chancellor wanted to scrap the test immediately rather than discontinuing it next year.
Ms. Porter was appointed as the Bronx Executive Superintendent by Mr. Carranza in 2018, and has increased graduation rates in the borough.
“I am ready to hit the ground running and lead New York City schools to a full recovery,” she said.
She said she was focused on reopening high schools, which have been closed since December, and enhancing mental and emotional supports for students who have struggled during the pandemic.
“We have successfully partnered with Meisha Ross Porter on projects in the past, including the Bronx Plan and expanding community schools," Mr. Mulgrew said.
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