The education department is in the market for a high-level official who will oversee enrollment decisions with an eye toward diversity.
Rob Sanft, who has led the Office of Student Enrollment for the last seven years, is stepping down. His replacement will be responsible for helping Mayor Bill de Blasio’s education department implement a plan, released last June, to boost school diversity.
The senior executive director of enrollment “will be expected to drive forward the vision of school diversity, in collaboration with other DOE offices,” according to the listing.
The enrollment chief has already been central to the city’s diversity initiatives. Deputy Chancellor Josh Wallack said in a statement that Sanft has already worked to end limited unscreened high school admissions, which can present barriers to students, and to change the way students are assigned to middle schools. Both were moves laid out in the city’s diversity plan.
“He has led reforms that make student enrollment easier and more equitable for hundreds of thousands of families every year,” Wallack said.
As more of the city’s diversity initiatives get off the ground, Wallack said integration issues will comprise an even larger role for the new enrollment chief. That only adds to the enormous responsibility of the office, which handles the city’s complicated high school admissions process and competitive gifted and talented program.
Integration advocates have called on the Department of Education to put a high-ranking official in charge of desegregation efforts. While that has yet to happen, Matt Gonzales, who heads integration efforts for the nonprofit New York Appleseed, found the city’s job posting encouraging.
“I think the fact that DOE is embedding a priority towards diversity into the job description of such an important role signifies a real investment in this work,” Gonzales wrote in an email.
David Kirkland, executive director of the New York University Metro Center, said advocates will keep an eye on who ultimately gets tapped for the position.
“Before we declare victory,” he wrote in an email, “I am curious about their background, their diversity status, their commitments to equity and integration, their willingness to work with the broader community to resolve issues.”