Garth Harries
Garth Harries

The top Department of Education official who is set to review the city’s special education system is adding another job to his plate: He’s joining a national program designed to produce top-notch urban superintendents.

Garth Harries, who until the end of this month is the chief executive of the DOE’s portfolio department, is one of 12 people accepted into this year’s Broad Superintendents Academy class. The academy, which is based on business executive training programs, is run by the Broad Foundation, which also gives out the annual Broad Prize for Urban Education. New York City won the Broad Prize in 2007.

As a Broad fellow, Harries will stay on at the DOE but will leave the city for six multi-day retreats throughout the year. He’ll also have regular homework assignments. (Already, Helen Zelon at Insideschools has chimed in with concern about just how much Harries can cram into his calendar.) We asked Harries for a statement, and got this response from Chancellor Joel Klein instead:

Garth’s selection reflects the extraordinary work he’s done in New York and his potential to be a great superintendent in the future.

The Broad Academy says it expects its graduates to seek superintendencies, but of the DOE officials who have gone through the program, most still work in the city. Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning Marcia Lyles was a Broad Fellow in 2006. Christopher Cerf, who supervises human resources and communications, and his assistant, Joel Rose, both went through the program before they came to the DOE when each was CEO of the for-profit Edison Schools group. And Shael Polakow-Suransky, Eric Nadelstern’s deputy in the Empowerment Schools network, is a current fellow. Only former regional superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard left the system for a superintendency elsewhere after completing the Broad training program; he is now the head of the Rochester, N.Y., schools.

According to the foundation, just 2 percent of applicants were accepted to the academy this year. Other fellows include two top officials from the Chicago Public Schools, a handful of business executives, and several military leaders (one a deputy in the U.S. Army’s Joint Improvised Explosive Device Organization!).