Flap Over Selection of Principals Settled

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Schools Chancellor Joseph A. Fernandez of New York City last week reached a compromise with a Bronx community school board in an out-of-court settlement of a lawsuit over the appointment of six area principals.

Mr. Fernandez had attempted to block the assignment of the principals because of allegations that the local district board's selection process had been tainted with political corruption and anti-Semitism.

The settlement, approved last week in a state Supreme Court in the Bronx, stipulates that three of the principals in District 12 will be retained, one will be replaced, and two will be considered for jobs under a new selection process.

A state appeals court earlier this month upheld the chancellor's right to review the board's selection of superintendents, after Mr. Fernandez's actions touched off a 10-month long dispute over the scope of his power.

According to Frank Sobrino, a spokesman for the chancellor, Mr. Fernandez has "only felt the need to intervene when he thought it was necessary.''

But Donald Singer, the president of the Council of Supervisors and Administrators, said his group has had a "mixed reaction'' to Mr. Fernandez's leadership style.

"He talks about shared decisionmaking, but he doesn't always practice it,'' he commented.

'Justice Prevailed'

However, Mr. Singer said the council was satisfied with the settlement.

"It was a compromise, but we feel that justice prevailed,'' he said. Lawyers from the council had represented the six District 12 administrators.

In a statement released last week, Mr. Fernandez said the settlement "left clear instructions on how to proceed with future activities. If these are not followed, I will not hesitate to act again.''

Mr. Fernandez stepped into the selection process last December, when charges were made by members of the board that district officials had engaged in misconduct in order to secure appointments for the six principals.

After the chancellor rejected the appointments and told District 12 to halt the selection process pending an investigation, local district officials defied the order, placed the supervisors in school posts, and filed suit against the chancellor. Mr. Fernandez later appointed trustees to oversee some functions of the board but allowed the six principals to remain in their jobs on a temporary basis.

Two of the principals involved in the settlement have assumed permanent posts after being approved by the trustees last week, said Mr. Sobrino, and the third is about to be approved.--J.R.

Vol. 12, Issue 08

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