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SD 25 super looks to past as model for regional post

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The District 25 superintendent selected by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to head a new regional school division that includes Staten Island and Brooklyn said she plans to structure her future job on positive lessons from the past.

Michelle Fratti, a 31-year veteran of the city’s school system, said her success with setting up open lines of communication with parents, teachers and local residents in District 25 would be the center of the administration she plans to establish in her new leadership post.

District 25 covers schools in College Point, Whitestone, Flushing, Queensborough Hill, Kew Gardens Hills, parts of Fresh Meadows and Auburndale.

“In District 25, we have always had an exceptional relationship with parents,” she said in a telephone interview. “That is what I intend to continue and that is the model I will be implementing.”

Fratti will be leading one of the 10 new regional divisions that will be implemented by the mayor and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein July 1. She will head Division 7, which includes all of Staten Island and Brooklyn school districts 20 and 21.

Judith Chin, currently the superintendent of the school system’s Center for Recruitment and Professional Development, is the only other member of the 10 chosen to be regional superintendents with a tie to Queens, Fratti said. Chin will head Division 3, including Districts 25, 26, 28 and 29 in Queens.

According to her resumé, Chin, a resident of Little Neck and a first-generation Chinese American, began her career with New York City public schools in 1972 as a teacher at PS 192 in Manhattan. Before assuming her superintendent post, she was executive director of the city’s Division of Instructional Support, an agency charged with implementing standards-based instruction in all classrooms.

She is the parent of a second grader in District 26.

Fratti will take charge of the largest new division, which includes 129 schools and 137,186 students. She said she has already been out to meet and greet parents and teachers in the area and plans to aggressively set up a network whereby parents can express their opinions.

“Certainly one of the concerns is to make sure we continue to hear the voices of parents,” she said. “The area has wonderful schools and we want to build on that very strong foundation.”

Fratti began her career as a teacher in the Bronx, moved to Manhattan District 2, then transferred to Whitestone and became assistant principal at PS 194. She later became principal there and was chosen in 1998 to become District 25’s superintendent.

The schools system veteran lives in Flushing and had children who were products of District 25’s schools.

Legislators, parents and school board members have voiced concerns that there will be less opportunity for parent input under the mayor’s plan that calls for taking the smaller districts and combining them into the larger regional divisions. Bloomberg also plans to close all 32 school district offices when under state law school boards go out of existence on June 30.

The contracts for all 32 current superintendents also expire on June 30, she said.

Fratti, however, said Bloomberg and Klein are planning to retain parent input by setting up regional offices in each division with weekend and night hours to take complaints and serve as a direct line to city Department of Education officials. She also said each school will have a parent liaison to address parent concerns.

“It is going to be a tight schedule, but these are the people we need to speak to if we are e going to make this work,” she said of parents and teachers.

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 156

Updated 10:26 am, October 12, 2011
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