Parents furious over ousting of popular school districts bosses

Parents are up in arms at two school districts in Queens and Brooklyn over the ousting of their popular superintendents without any promised community engagement as part of a systemwide shakeup.

The DOE this week dismissed District 30 superintendent Philip Composto and District 24 superintendent Madelene Chan, both widely respected and beloved, leaving community members fuming that they had not been consulted.

“I, along with countless principals, staff, and parents, are horrified at this treatment and this decision,” said Deborah Alexander, a member of the parent-led District 30 Community Education Council. “Our district is one of the better-performing ones in the city. We have no idea what’s going on.”

“This (community) engagement is theater,” she said.

At the end of the week, more than 2,500 area residents had signed onto a petition to keep the 40-year-veteran Composto, and close to 600 backed another petition for Chan.

Several politicians, including Council Member Tiffany Caban and State Sen. Michael Gianaris, also took part in a press conference Friday to protest Composto’s removal — that comes as Mayor Eric Adams is planning a trip to Albany to push for mayoral control of the city schools.

District 24 superintendent Madelene Chan was let go by the DOE.
Community School District 24
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“This is a strange way to operate when the mayor is trying to persuade the state to give him control of the schools,” said Gianaris, the deputy majority leader. “He’s his own worst enemy.” 

The two educators were let go from their posts as 45 superintendents across the city were asked by Schools Chancellor David Banks to reapply for their jobs and assured families that the Department of Education would “engage in a process that involves the community” in making a final decision on their future.

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Town halls with the district finalists and families are scheduled for Friday and Tuesday, respectively, according to CEC members.

But neither Composto nor Chan made it to those rounds, and the DOE can still reject the parent bodies’ choices this week, the parents told The Post.

Applications for the position closed last month, according to a March memo obtained by The Post from Deputy Chancellor Desmond Blackburn, with the new leaders expected to be announced at the end of June.

Philip Composto
Philip Composto was District 30’s superintendent.
NYC Kids Rise

Some community members thought the town halls were just a show.

“You’re rigging the system for whoever you want,” a District 24 CEC member said of Banks. “The whole system is rigged.”

The DOE did not return an immediate request for more information on the superintendents who are reapplying.

Parents and staff in District 30 hailed Composto’s leadership in a three-hour Zoom rally Thursday night. “He’s 100 percent about kids. I’m heartbroken,” a mom said.

“To make a decision without parents is disgusting and disrespectful,” said another.

Chancellor David Banks speaks at PS 125 in Manhattan to announce a new program to teach students with dyslexia.
Schools Chancellor David Banks said he would involve parents in future decisions.
Robert Miller

More than 500 viewers were in attendance, including 80% of principals in the district, according to Alexander — who noted it’s a rarity for DOE employees to speak out against policy. 

Across the five boroughs, as many as 12 superintendents got pink slips this week, insiders said, though it was not immediately clear whether they had reapplied for their jobs.

Adams on Friday defended the decisions to dump Composto and Chan, deferring to Banks and his decision-making. 

“He is reforming a school system that has been dysfunctional, and that has been broken for so long,” Adams said at an unrelated press conference on Friday. “And one of the things he must do is he must put in place his generals that are going to be in charge of the school district.”

Additional reporting by Carl Campanile and Bernadette Hogan.

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