May 17, 2022 By Christian Murray and Czarinna Andres
The Department of Education has reversed course and will allow Dr. Philip Composto, the current superintendent of District 30, the opportunity to keep his job.
The announcement comes less than a week after Composto was unceremoniously notified that he was no longer wanted for the position. Many superintendents across the city were handed pink slips last week because the school chancellor asked all 45 superintendents to reapply for their positions as the DOE looks to expand the role.
The city had selected finalists for each of the position, and many incumbents– such as Composto– were told they were out of the running. The finalists are to go before parents and the community as part of the hiring process.
The city received pushback from parents about their ousting of incumbents and in School District 30 parents and elected leaders were outraged. Elected leaders held a rally in Astoria on Friday in support of Composto and parents put together a petition that garnered more than 3,000 signatures calling for his reinstatement They also said at the very least he deserved a chance to be a finalist.
The District 30 superintendent’s role is to oversee the elementary and middle schools in the district, which covers Astoria, Corona, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Long Island City, Sunnyside and parts of Woodside.
Chancellor David Banks issued a statement Monday saying that the DOE wanted to work with parents across the city and the superintendents would be deemed finalists.
“The central pillar of this administration is parent and community engagement and … we are inviting all incumbent superintendents to be interviewed as part of the community process,” Banks said.
“When I make the final determination of who will serve all students in each district, that decision will combine the passionate feedback of parents and community members and each candidate’s ability to articulate a comprehensive vision for the future.”
Council Member Tiffany Caban said that she was encouraged by the fact that the DOE listened to the public.
“I’m very glad to see that the community’s outpouring of revulsion of the process is moving decision-makers to revise their approach,” Caban said.
She also believes that Composto has a realistic chance of retaining his position given the flood of support for him.
“I believe that he has a genuine shot at the job, because the community demands it,” she said.
Councilmember Julie Won said she was glad that the DOE has made room for Composto to be a finalist. She said she strongly supports his inclusion and the democratic process.
The DOE has named the finalists for District 30, which include Composto, David Cintron, Erika Tobia and Rafael Alvarez.
A town hall meeting for District 30 will take place this Friday, May 20 that will include the candidates. It will take place at 5 p.m.
The DOE is asking the public to submit questions for the candidates by Wednesday, May 18th at 5:00 PM.
Deborah Alexander, a member of the District 30 CEC, said she was “thrilled that the DOE had listened to the community” and has allowed Composto to be in the running. She said she is hopeful that the DOE will listen to parents and that their feedback will be taken into consideration when the new superintendent is named.
She said that she only learned of who the finalists were for the position on Monday, with the DOE providing no information on who each of the candidates are.
“Our friend Google—that’s how I have learned about them–would have been nice to get some information,” Alexander said. Excluding Composto, she said, the candidates are all high-ranking school officials from the Bronx who are held in high regard.
She said that the CEC has no idea as to the criteria that the DOE used to determined the finalists.
She said that the turnaround time for the public to submit questions and familiarize themselves with the candidates was very limited. She said that public will have 30 minutes for feedback as part of the townhall.
But Alexander said that she was encouraged that the DOE did change course on permitting Composto to be a finalist.
“I am really glad that the chancellor didn’t dig his heels in and listened to parents. The fact that they were willing to listen gives me hope for this administration.”