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Margie Feinberg, a spokeswoman for the city Board of Education, confirmed Levy's visit to the troubled school district. She said Levy will meet with the C-37 committee and then hold a public meeting at IS 192 at 109-89 204th St. in St. Albans.
"Levy is doing a PR job for Johnson," said Adrienne Rogers, the chairwoman of the C-37 superintendent search committee and long time district resident. Michael Johnson is the district administer who was appointed by Levy to act as the superintendent until a permanent replacement was chosen.
"It is not a secret that he favors Johnson," Rogers said. "Levy wants to convince the C-37 committee that Johnson is the best thing since sliced bread."
She said Levy told the school board Johnson has all the qualifications that make him the prototypical superintendent and she thinks Levy is trying to convince the C-37 committee that Johnson is the best person for the job and community.
"The meeting is long overdue," said Nathaniel Washington, president of School Board 29. "He should have visited us a long time ago on this issue and the issues in the district. Everyone wants to know why he is delaying the process and why it is taking so long."
The school district has been in turmoil for almost two years since its then superintendent, Celestine Miller, was fired in February 1999 by then Schools Chancellor Rudy Crew for delaying to report that an 8-year-old boy had gone into a Rosedale school carrying a loaded gun.
Since Miller's dismissal, the school district, which stretches from Queens Village to Laurelton and from Jamaica to Springfield Gardens, has been in flux. Miller was recently indicted on bid-rigging charges involving computer sales to schools under her command. District 29 has had an acting interim superintendent, its school board has been suspended and then reinstated, and it now has a district administrator running the district.
Levy tapped Johnson to run the district, with 27,000 students in 28 schools, until a new superintendent could be found. It is widely believed that Levy backs Johnson for the permanent job.
"He [Levy] is a Johnson supporter and he will let the community know why there are delays," Washington said. "He will let the community know what type of superintendent he is looking for in this district and throughout the city. Then the C-37 committee can go back to resume their search or start over."
Rogers said there is no reason for the district to reconvene the C-37 committee because the rest of the candidates who had originally applied for the superintendent's job were not qualified.
"If Levy wants Johnson, let him put Johnson in, but not with the blessing of the C-37 committee," Rogers said. "They have dismissed the school board, but the name of the new superintendent has to be submitted by the C-37, which means he has to convince us."
If Levy can convince the C-37 committee to support Johnson, he can then say he has the support of the committee and the community in choosing Johnson to run the district, Rogers said.
Washington said the board is in the process of deciding the form of the meeting between the community and the chancellor. He said he hopes the dialogue between the community and Levy remains open and the conversation focuses on the topic of choosing a district superintendent.
©2000 Community Newspaper Group
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