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New York Chancellor Ousts Board Amid Allegations of Corruption

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Chancellor Joseph A. Fernandez of the New York City public schools last week removed an entire Bronx community school board from office following allegations of corruption against some board members.

The action marked the first time that Mr. Fernandez has completely removed a local school board rather than simply suspending it, according to a spokesman for the chancellor.

Mr. Fernandez ousted Community School Board 12, and appointed three trustees to run the district's affairs, after an investigation of the board uncovered widespread abuses in hiring and other areas.

Mr. Fernandez noted that four members of the board--Blanco Feliciano, Eugenia Irazarry, Carmen Judith Taveras, and Lydia Valez--had not been implicated in any way in the abuses and "in fact may be deserving of praise for their actions in the face of the rampant abuses cited.''

Yet, he said, "It is of the utmost importance that the educational community served by Community School Board 12 be assured that education will be provided in an atmosphere totally free from the taint of corruption, patronage, and abuse'' described in a report by the school system's special commissioner of investigation.

Six of the eight board members dismissed last week, including two whom the special commissioner specifically recommended removing, were running for re-election in the city's May 4 school board elections and could be returned to office for terms beginning July 1. If that is the case, it is unclear what additional action the board members might face from the chancellor's office, in light of the fact that Mr. Fernandez's contract expires June 30. Ballots from the elections have not yet been tallied.

Bribe Offer Videotaped

Edward F. Stancik, the special commissioner of investigation, released a report two weeks ago that found widespread abuses in the hiring of supervisors and other staff members in Community District 12.

The report found, for example, that several board members had put friends and relatives on school payrolls and had compelled principals to perform members' household chores.

As part of the probe, investigators late last month videotaped a former Brooklyn principal as she offered a board member, Edward Cain, a bribe in exchange for a position as a principal in his district. Mr. Cain had agreed to cooperate with authorities after he was accused of pocketing money from a 1991 fund-raiser.

Mr. Fernandez late last month removed Mr. Cain from the nine-member board after determining that he did not reside in the district.

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