Schools Chancellor David Banks unveiled on Monday the superintendents who will directly supervise principals across New York City, the result of an unusually public and contentious process.
Of the 45 superintendencies, 14 will have new leadership. Flanked by Mayor Eric Adams, Banks said the leaders he selected will have expanded authority.
“We set out to build a team of superintendents who are empowered in ways that they have not been in years,” Banks said, adding they would put the needs of students “front and center.”
Superintendents, who are often the face of the school system at local Community Education Council meetings, will soon have extra resources and control over more personnel. The education department is dissolving borough offices that helped support schools, sending their staff to work directly under superintendents, essentially merging the department’s supervision and support systems. Banks said the superintendents will act as a “one-stop shop.”
But the process of selecting new leadership has proved to be controversial — and some current superintendents did not make the cut.
In Brooklyn’s District 15, which runs from Park Slope to Red Hook, Banks did not rehire Anita Skop, who served as superintendent as the district launched high-profile admissions changes aimed at integrating middle schools in one of the most segregated districts in the city.
Skop was also involved in a controversy over the removal a school mural that included messages like “Black Trans Lives Matter” and an Audre Lorde quote “Your Silence Will Not Protect You”, the Daily News reported, a move that drew significant blowback.
Still, the decision not to rehire her drew immediate disappointment from some elected officials. Banks said he valued her experience and that she would remain at the education department in a different role.
“We’re going to move in a slightly different direction moving forward with District 15,” he said.
Anita Skop is an excellent educator and beloved by D15 families.— Assemblymember Robert Carroll (@Bobby4Brooklyn) June 27, 2022
I was moved by @DOEChancellor’s passion to reform our schools but removing Superintendent Skop will not help make our schools better. We will simply lose a valuable educator who deserves to remain in her job. https://t.co/M6yYjkFL7t
Shortly after Banks took office in January, he asked every superintendent to reapply for their jobs and promised to go beyond the typical procedure outlined in state law and education department regulations, which allows union officials and parent leaders an opportunity to participate.
Banks opened the process to the public by holding town hall meetings among the finalists for each position and said he would “be strongly led by what the community says.” (Superintendents must have at least seven years of experience as an educator, including three as a principal.)
But several incumbent superintendents, who had reapplied for their jobs, were told they would not advance to the public round in which local parent councils and community members could ask questions and share feedback. That spurred outcry in communities with strong ties to their current superintendents, with some launching formal petitions that garnered thousands of signatures.
The education department ultimately backtracked, inviting all current superintendents who applied to participate in the public process. Some superintendents, whose future seemed to be in doubt, wound up being selected after all.
In Districts 24 and 30, both in Queens, some community members and elected officials pushed hard to retain the superintendents. In both cases, the superintendents remain: Madelene Chan and Philip Composto.
Banks said the outcry did not affect the final decision though he noted the criticism persuaded him to allow all sitting superintendents the chance to participate in the town hall process. “Quite frankly, Phil Composto stepped up his game in a big way,” Banks told reporters. “It didn’t have anything to do with constituents being loud.”
A large swath of Brooklyn will have new superintendents, including Districts 13, 14, 15, and 16. Queens high schools will also be supervised by two new superintendents. In addition, four districts will have “acting” superintendents while the education department’s leadership department conducts a new search. In those cases, Banks said, he was not satisfied that any of the candidates, including some existing superintendents, were right for the job.
One superintendent, who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak freely, said the process was “demoralizing” and “frustrating.” There was little opportunity to present a complete vision, as the cover letter for the initial application had a single prompt that asked how they would improve literacy in their district, the person said. The interview process largely involved standardized questions without opportunity for back and forth discussion, the superintendent said.
“The process doesn’t really allow you to communicate the things you would value and what you would do and how you would do things differently,” they said.
In addition, it was not clear how the education department had taken the public town halls into account in the hiring process.
“They made this really big deal about hosting these town halls,” the superintendent said, “and there’s been zero understanding or clarity about what way — if at all — that mattered in the hiring process.”
Banks acknowledged that the public town halls did not have a significant impact on his final decisions, though he said he watched recordings of them.
“At the end of the day, it’s still my ultimate gut decision that says this is the right person,” he said. “Ninety percent of the time, it’s in full alignment with the community.”
The new superintendents take office July 1 and will conduct “listening tours” over the summer to solicit recommendations for improving schools. The full list of superintendents can be found below.
Community Superintendent, District 1
Community Superintendent, District 2
Community Superintendent, District 3
Community Superintendent, District 4
Kristy De La Cruz
Community Superintendent, District 5
Community Superintendent, District 6
Community Superintendent, District 7
Community Superintendent, District 8
Community Superintendent, District 9
Community Superintendent, District 10
Community Superintendent, District 11
Community Superintendent, District 12
Community Superintendent, District 13
Robin Davson (acting)
Community Superintendent, District 14
David Cintron (acting)
Community Superintendent, District 15
Community Superintendent, District 16
Community Superintendent, District 17
Community Superintendent, District 18
Community Superintendent, District 19
Community Superintendent, District 20
Community Superintendent, District 21
Community Superintendent, District 22
Community Superintendent, District 23
Community Superintendent, District 24
Community Superintendent, District 25
Community Superintendent, District 26
Community Superintendent, District 27
Community Superintendent, District 28
Community Superintendent, District 29
Community Superintendent, District 30
Community Superintendent, District 31
Community Superintendent, District 32
Superintendent, District 75 Citywide Programs
Superintendent, District 79
Glenda Esperance (acting)
High School Superintendent, Manhattan HS Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Gary Beidleman (acting)
High School Superintendent, Bronx HS Districts 7, 9 and 12
High School Superintendent, Bronx HS Districts 8, 10 and 11
High School Superintendent, Brooklyn North HS Districts 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 23, and 32
High School Superintendent, Brooklyn South Districts 17, 18, 20, 21, and 22
High School Superintendent, Queens North Districts 24, 25, 26, 30
High School Superintendent, Queens South Districts 27, 28, 29
High School Superintendent, Consortium, International and Outward Bound
High School Superintendent, CUNY and Urban Assembly
High School Superintendent, New Visions
High School Superintendent, Transfer Schools
Christina Veiga contributed.
Alex Zimmerman is a reporter for Chalkbeat New York, covering NYC public schools. Contact Alex at email@example.com.