Business Leader Is Named Interim Chancellor in N.Y.C.
New York City school board members last week named a Manhattan business leader—rather than an educator—as interim chancellor of the nation's largest school system, two weeks after the board declined to renew Rudolph F. Crew's contract.
The school board chose Harold O. Levy, a Citigroup executive and a member of the state board of regents, over two candidates endorsed by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. Mr. Levy's appointment hinges on the state education commissioner's waiving a requirement that local schools chiefs in New York hold education administrator credentials.
Mr. Levy, who is 47, said in a statement that he grew to care about the state of New York City's schools when he chaired the Commission on School Facilities and Maintenance Reform, a panel that studied the deterioration of city school buildings and came to be known as the Levy Commission.
"We pointed out the life-threatening conditions of our public schools and helped to change them," Mr. Levy said. "I well recognize the depth of the challenge and have no political or social agenda. My goal is to focus relentlessly on improving learning for students."
The city school board, which oversees the schooling of 1.1 million students, voted 4-3 on Dec. 23 not to renew Mr. Crew's contract. He since has accepted a position at the University of Washington in Seattle overseeing a training academy for education leaders.
Waiver Decision Awaited
To decide whether to allow someone without education credentials into the interim chancellor post, Richard P. Mills, the state education commissioner, has assembled a team of business leaders, education professors, and others to advise him, said Tom Dunn, a spokesman for the commissioner.
Nonetheless, Mr. Dunn stressed that the commissioner's decision was his "alone to make."
He added that it would not necessarily set a precedent that would clear the way for someone without proper credentials to assume the chancellor's post permanently. State regulations bar New York districts from hiring superintendents who don't have school administrator credentials.
The commissioner didn't expect to make a decision before the start of this week, Mr. Dunn said.
The board chose Mr. Levy as its candidate on Jan. 9, thwarting efforts by Mr. Giuliani on behalf of two other candidates, according to The New York Times. A falling out between the mayor and Mr. Crew was widely seen as a factor in the outgoing chancellor's departure.
School board President William C. Thompson Jr. praised the board's choice for interim chancellor, saying Mr. Levy is an experienced business leader and manager who is familiar and deeply concerned about the district's challenges.
"He also knows the obstacles this system faces—the need for well-prepared teachers, the dire state of school facilities, and the need for equitable funding from the state," Mr. Thompson said in a statement.
Vol. 19, Issue 19, Page 12