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Tweed Courthouse, Department of Education headquarters

Tweed Courthouse, Department of Education headquarters

Remembering Marge Feinberg, spokeswoman known for being protective of principals

Longtime Department of Education spokeswoman Marge Feinberg, known for being the go-to for principals facing media scrutiny, has died, city officials confirmed Friday.

Feinberg was an education department institution, serving as a deputy press secretary since 1999. Known as Margie, she fielded questions about school health, safety, and busing — topics that often left her responding to many of the press corps’ toughest stories. She was also the one principals turned to when reporters requested access to a school building, turning “ask Margie” into something of a catchphrase in city schools.

“It is with such a heavy heart I share that we lost a dear friend, Margie Feinberg, whom I have had the privilege of calling a valued colleague for more than a decade,” Chancellor Carmen Fariña said in a statement.

Feinberg retired last October. In Fariña’s newsletter to principals that month, she noted that Feinberg worked to coordinate the efforts of principals and department staff members on September 11 and during Hurricane Sandy. (She also recalled Feinberg responding to media inquiries about a peacock on the lam from a Queens high school.)

“When I was a principal, I remember calling Margie at 11 p.m. before my name was going to hit the papers in a story that I feared would be less than complimentary,” Fariña said. “I was frantic, but Margie calmly walked me through what I needed to do and say, and the next day went smoothly.

“I know that many of you depended on Margie as much as I did and today the entire DOE mourns her loss.”

Noah Lansner, principal of Brooklyn Preparatory High School, recalled talking to her after a television news crew walked through his school building unannounced in a story about school security lapses. It was a negative story that Feinberg helped them navigate, he said.

“She was always very warm and very thoughtful with us in a variety of situations,” he said.

Funeral services will be held at noon on Monday at Riverside Memorial Chapel.