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Harry Handler, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District since 1981, has announced that he will join the faculty of the graduate school of education at the University of California at Los Angeles this fall.

In an agreement reached last summer with the board of education, the new superintendent is to be chosen by July 1, but Mr. Handler's has the option of supervising the transition if he accepts a new position as the district's chief executive officer.

A spokesman for the district said, however, that because Mr. Handler cannot simultaneously hold both the university post and the school-district position, he plans to complete the transition by October, when classes at U.C.L.A. resume.

The board has narrowed its list of finalists for the superintendent's post to four people, two from within the district and two from outside, according to district sources. All superintendents chosen since 1948 have been promoted from within the district, one spokesman noted.

The New York State Board of Regents last week elected Thomas Sobol to be the new state education commissioner, effective July 1.

Mr. Sobol, who has been the superintendent of the Scarsdale, N.Y., public schools for the past 16 years, succeeds Gordon M. Ambach, who has served as commissioner for the past 10 years and who was selected last week to be the new executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers.

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