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School Board 29 selects new member

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Afuwah was the second person elected to replace Swaggert. Anna Thompson, a longtime district resident, was originally elected to the school board but less than a week after her appointment she submitted her resignation to the board. She said she did not want to be what she termed "maligned" by Michael Johnson, the district administrator appointed by Levy, and the community while she worked at educating the children of the district.

"I am overwhelmed," Afuwah told the crowd of more than 40 community residents at the SB 29 meeting last Thursday. "My agenda is simple: I am here for our children."

He was appointed to the position by a vote of 7-0, with Kim Taylor casting the one abstention at the meeting at IS 231 at 145-00 Springfield Blvd.

The St Albans resident has two children in the public school system, One attends high school and another who goes to IS 59.

He said he plans to do the best job possible to further the educational needs of the children in School District 29, which covers Queens Village, Laurelton, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens, St. Albans and part of Jamaica. He promised he would work to provide the necessary support to parents, teachers and administration to make sure the district's children get a good education.

School Board 29 President Nathaniel Washington said Afuwah had been interviewed by the board and the community during their first attempt to replace Swaggert and came in a close second just behind Thompson. He said he was pleased that Afuwah had accepted the position on the board.

Now that the SB 29 has its full allotment of members, the board is looking toward the day when it gets a permanent superintendent to run the school district, which is responsible for the education of 27,000 children.

The school district has been without a superintendent for since Celestine Miller was fired in February 1999 by then-Chancellor Rudy Crew for not reporting in a timely manner that a Rosedale elementary student had brought a loaded gun to school.

In August the board decided under protest to submit four names to the chancellor for the vacant superinten­dent's position filled temporarily by Johnson. Levy had rejected the board's first choice, Rhia Warren, the principal of IS 226 in South Ozone Park.

According to Board of Education regulations, the chancellor has 30 days to choose one of the four candidates or reject them all. The 30-day period has passed and there has been no word from Levy's office on his decision.

Board of Ed spokeswoman Margie Feinberg said Levy has not made a decision on the four candidates and who will run the troubled district.

The four contenders are: Debra Brathwaite, deputy superintendent of District 17; Beatrice Collymore, deputy superintendent of the Newark Public Schools; Lester McDowell, principal of PS 40 in District 14 in Brooklyn; and Frank Spradley, deputy superintendent of District 16 in Brooklyn.

"The chancellor has told people he wants Johnson," said Leroy Comrie, a member of the school board and its former president. "When (U.S. Rep. Gregory) Meeks tried to meet with Levy to discuss the situation, he was rebuffed."

Comrie said he had heard that two of the candidates whose names the board submitted to Levy as possible replacements were offered other jobs within the city school system. This could not be independently confirmed since the Board of Ed had no comment on the superintendent search.

Posted 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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