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Levy grills Board 29 after move to oust super

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School Board 29 members were ordered to meet with Interim Schools Chancellor Harold Levy last week to explain their decision to dismiss Acting Superintendent Michael Cinquemani, the board's president said at a recent meeting.

Among the items discussed at the meeting was the possible disbanding of School Board 29, said Leroy Comrie, president of SB 29.

Margie Feinberg, a spokeswoman for the city Board of Education, said the meeting was called because SB 29 violated Board of Ed regulations in removing Cinquemani.

The Board 29 members were summoned to Board of Ed headquarters at 110 Livingston St. last Thursday after Levy had overturned Cinquemani's dismissal.

According to Comrie, Levy told them one of his options in response to their action was to disband SB 29.

At SB 29's Jan. 31 meeting, Comrie announced that the board had voted to remove Cinquemani, which according to Feinberg, violated the chancellor's regulations.

Comrie has refused to divulge why the board voted to replace Cinquemani.

The attempted ouster of the acting superintendent marked the latest clash between the chancellor's office and SB 29, whose district stretches from Queens Village to Rosedale, Laurelton and Springfield Gardens

Cinquemani assumed the interim acting superintendent's post after the former Chancellor Rudy Crew fired Superintendent Celestine Miller for not reporting immediately that an 8-year-old boy had gone to a Rosedale school carrying a loaded gun.

Cinquemani was deputy superintendent under Miller and previously taught English in District 29.

Near the end of 1999, Crew forbade District 29's superintendent selection committee from taking further action because of alleged improprieties during the selection process.

Feinberg said the selection committee has since been exonerated of any wrongdoing, but that it did take some incorrect actions.

Comrie said SB 29 members met with Levy to present their case and to discuss problems that have plagued SB 29 the past two months. He said Levy told the board he would consider the information they presented and make his decision during the week.

"He went from supporting us to the total opposite," said Comrie. "The chancellor has not worked out the nuances of his decision. He has given himself room within the option to form an option."

According to a source familiar with school board, the Board of Ed discussed three options: temporary removal of the school board, permanent removal of the board, or maintaining the status quo while retaining Cinquemani as acting superintendent.

If the school board is removed, the chancellor's office would appoint trustees to run the district, the source said.

Comrie said Levy told SB 29 members he had "no preconceived notion" about them and that he pointed out to the chancellor that news about the board's disbanding was leaked to television station New York 1.

"If they don't have any preconceived notions, why all the leaks?" said Comrie. "Levy is following his staff and they want to take our heads off."

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