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N.Y.C. Narrows Chancellor's Search to 3; K.C. Nears Choice

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Three candidates have emerged as finalists in the search for a New York City schools chancellor.

The school board pared down its list of candidates last week after Richard Ravitch, a former head of the city's transportation authority who was reported to be the favorite choice of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, withdrew. Mr. Ravitch said he backed out because he did not believe he could make enough of a difference within the current structure of the nation's largest school district.

The board narrowed its list to:

  • Daniel Domenech, a district superintendent for a regional board that oversees 18 school districts in western Suffolk County on Long Island;
  • Leon M. Goldstein, the president of Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn; and
  • Robert R. Spillane, the superintendent of the Fairfax County, Va., schools and a former schools chief in Boston.

The board has not yet set the dates for its next round of interviews, said board spokesman John Beckman.

The outgoing chancellor, Ramon C. Cortines, has accepted an offer to join Stanford University's school of education as a visiting scholar on Oct. 15, an aide, Alexander Russo, confirmed last week.

Mr. Cortines announced his resignation in June after clashing with Mr. Giuliani over the system's budget and school-security issues.

Two candidates recently dropped out of the New York search because of comments by Mr. Giuliani that the new chancellor should turn over control of district finances and security to City Hall. (See Education Week, Sept. 20, 1995.)

Kansas City Courtship

Meanwhile, another urban district that has struggled to find a new chief, Kansas City, Mo., appeared poised last week to take another step in its on-again, off-again courtship of John A. Murphy.

The school board held a closed meeting Sept. 20 to discuss whether to extend a contract offer to Mr. Murphy, the superintendent of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg district in North Carolina.

But board members late last week declined to reveal the outcome of their discussion, and Mr. Murphy said in an interview that he had not yet learned of their actions.

The developments followed weeks of controversy over consideration of Mr. Murphy for the top job in the 36,700-student district. The district has been searching for a new chief since the former super~intendent, Walter L. Marks, was fired in April.

Mr. Murphy had withdrawn from consideration for the Kansas City job in mid-August when his name was leaked to the news media as one of three finalists, said Shelley McThomas-Jackson, a district spokeswoman. But school board members continued their discussions with Mr. Murphy, and on Sept. 6 they voted 7-2 to renew negotiations with him.

A community uproar ensued in the following days when Mr. Murphy, unlike other candidates, said he would not attend a community meeting before he was hired. Mr. Murphy said that he did not think it was fair to "parade" candidates before the community and force the losing applicants to return to their respective districts knowing that they had not been chosen.

Further dissent arose over news that two board members had independently brought Mr. Murphy to Kansas City for a private visit, without telling other members of the board. As a result of the controversy, the board voted 6-3 on Sept. 12 to discontinue negotiations unless the candidate met with a panel of community members appointed by the board.

The board decided to renew talks with Mr. Murphy after he said he would meet with community members if he were offered a contract, according to Ms. McThomas-Jackson.

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