NYC schools chancellor pick will get waiver, official says

Foes and supporters of Black's appointment have lobbied Mayor Bloomberg since the Nov. 8 announcement.

New York’s state education commissioner will grant media executive Cathie Black a waiver to serve as chancellor of New York City schools, an official with knowledge of the decision told the Associated Press (AP) on Nov. 26.

The official spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the announcement had not yet been made.

The decision opens the door for the Hearst Magazines chairwoman to succeed Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, who is leaving to take a job with News Corp. The 66-year-old Black needed the waiver because she does not have a background in education.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg had been criticized over his decision to appoint the noneducator to the position, but several high-profile women had endorsed his choice, including Whoopi Goldberg and Gloria Steinem, with whom Black worked at Ms. magazine in the 1970s.

“We are delighted that the largest public school system in the country will, for the first time, be headed by a woman — and in Cathie Black we have an extraordinarily qualified and visionary leader,” the prominent women said. “We urge you to grant the necessary waiver for this historic appointment.”

In a Nov. 26 letter, Bloomberg said Black would appoint 38-year-old Shael Polakow-Suransky, a former teacher and a member of Klein’s administration, to serve as senior deputy chancellor and chief academic officer.

The official told the AP that Education Commissioner David M. Steiner would grant the waiver on Nov. 29.

An advisory panel appointed to weigh Black’s qualifications to serve as chancellor of New York City schools had recommended that Steiner deny the waiver that would allow her to serve as chancellor.

Steiner had previously suggested he might be willing to grant a waiver to Black if a second-in-command with academic experience were to be chosen.

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