New York City Taps Fernandez For Chancellor

September 27, 1989 1 min read

Joseph A. Fernandez, who has gained national attention for his school-reform initiatives as superintendent of the Dade County, Fla., school district, has been named chancellor of the New York City public schools.

The city’s board of education approved the selection last week, one day after its search committee recommended Mr. Fernandez and two other candidates as finalists for the top post in the nation’s largest school district.

Mr. Fernandez will earn a salary of $195,000 annually, making him one of the highest-paid public officials in the country. His predecessor in the post, the late Richard R. Green, was paid $150,000.

Other details of the contract that will be offered to Mr. Fernandez, including the date he will assume his duties, have yet to be worked out, said Robert Terte, a spokesman for the New York City school system.

Officials in New York and Miami said that Mr. Fernandez could start in his new post as early as January. “We’re hoping he will start as soon as possible,” Mr. Terte said.

Mr. Fernandez is expected to receive compensation for any loss he would incur from breaking his current contract in Dade County, which was renewed this year and was set to run through June 30, 1993.

Mr. Green, in addition to his salary, received a $25,000 annual housing allowance and a $10,000 annual expense account, the latter funded by private contributions.

Search Proceeded Smoothly

The selection of Mr. Fernandez, who has helped pioneer such concepts as school-based management, took place without the political infighting that characterized many of New York’s previous searches for a school chief, observers said.

Some candidates in the city’s mayoral race had asked that the selection be delayed until after a new mayor is elected in November, but the search committee chose only to defer releasing its list of finalists until after the primary election held earlier this month.

The other finalists were Matthew W. Prophet, superintendent of schools in Portland, Ore., and Robert R. Spillane, superintendent of schools in Fairfax County, Va.

The search committee did not recommend consideration of the acting chancellor, Bernard Mecklowitz, who is scheduled to remain in that post until Jan. 1. In a reversal of his previous public statements, Mr. Mecklowitz recently announced his interest in seeking the permanent position.--ws

A version of this article appeared in the September 27, 1989 edition of Education Week as New York City Taps Fernandez For Chancellor