Board 29 moves to hire chief

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The recently appointed trustees of School Board 29 last week passed resolutions geared at restarting the search process to hire a new superintendent for the troubled district following the Board of Education's suspension of the school board members.

The trustees unanimously voted last Thursday to establish a new C-37 screening committee, to advertise the position and change some of the school board's bylaws at SB 29's monthly public meeting at IS 192 at 109-89 204th St. in St. Albans.

The suspension in February of the school board by Interim Schools Chancellor Harold Levy for "general incompetence and failure of leadership" was the latest development in a long line of problems between the chancellor's office and SB 29, whose district stretches from Queens Village to Rosedale, Laurelton and Springfield Gardens.

Levy appointed Fermin Archer, Rose Walker and Joyce Johnson as the school board's trustees to restart the superintendent search process. He also appointed Michael Johnson, principal of the Science and Skills Center, a Brooklyn high school, as interim district administrator to replace Michael Cinquemani, who was demoted to his previously held position of deputy superintendent.

"The trustees were assigned by the district and we do not know how long we will be here," Archer told the crowd of about 100 people. "We are here for the best interest of the children in the district."

Ronnie Rogers, a Rosedale resident who has a child and three grandchildren in the school district and worked on the suspended C-37 committee, questioned whether or not the new search could move forward while the original committee's problems remained unresolved. The C-37 committee was suspended late last year by then Schools Chancellor Rudy Crew, who said he had questions about the "integrity" of the selection process for a new superintendent.

"What will prevent the new C-37 committee from being overturned?" she asked.

Archer said the trustees were not permitted to discuss the previous superintendent search process. He said the new committee will consist of one representative from each Parent Association and Parent-Teacher Association in the district, one representative and alternate from the unions UFT, CSA and DC 37, and no more than four members from community-based organizations. Each group will choose its own representatives.

When questioned whether or not previous C-37 committee members could sit on the new selection committee, Archer said the trustees "will not decide who will represent the schools."

The trustees also voted to advertise the $141,000 superintendent position, which oversees about 23,000 general and special education students in 23 elementary schools and five intermediate schools, in the local press.

The resolution to change some of the school board's bylaws, such as switching the meeting date from Thursdays to the third Monday of the month, drew the ire of the crowd, who said they had scheduled their PTA meetings, police precinct community council meetings and community board meetings around the school board schedule.

The board voted to keep the public meeting Thursdays, but passed the other changes, which they hope will encourage more people to attend and participate.

The original school superintendent search, to replace Celestine Miller, was halted in December by Crew because of alleged improprieties by the search committee, which is suspected of favoring one candidate over another.

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

Updated 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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