Edward F. Stancik, who as New York City's independent watchdog of the public schools rankled a succession of city schools chiefs with his investigations of corruption, sexual misconduct, and other misdeeds, died March 12. He was 47.
A former criminal prosecutor, Mr. Stancik became the city's first special commissioner of investigation for the public schools when then-Mayor David N. Dinkins created the position in 1990 amid concerns that the 1.1 million-student school district was responding inadequately to wrongdoing in its midst.
Rooting out such misdeeds became the Chicago native's mission during the dozen years he held the post, which gave him the power to make arrests and then refer the cases for prosecution. His office made 196 such arrests; of those, 132 yielded guilty pleas, eight led to convictions, and 23 are pending, according to a spokesman for the special commissioner's office.
Mr. Stancik's investigations often attracted unflattering media attention to the city's schools, leading to charges of hype and unfairness among critics, including leaders of the district—especially former Schools Chancellor Rudolph F. Crew—and the city teachers' union. Mr. Stancik, in turn, accused school leaders of unscrupulously attacking his credibility. ("N.Y.C. Union Report Blasts Cheating Probe," Jan. 10, 2001.)
During his tenure, Mr. Stancik recommended that the district take disciplinary action against more than 1,450 school employees. Although he often chided officials for failing to go far enough to correct problems his office had spotlighted, he counted among his successes policy changes that affected the system's subdistrict school boards, its custodial operations, its purchasing system, and its school security operations, as well as the handling of alleged sexual misconduct.
Mr. Stancik's office declined to comment on the health problems leading up to his death. He had undergone open-heart surgery twice since 1995.
Vol. 21, Issue 27, Page 4Published in Print: March 20, 2002, as Death