New chief sought for School Bd.

By Dustin Brown

A resolution to rescind a 1999 vote not to renew the contract of Superintendent Joseph Quinn failed to win support last week at School Board 24, whose members contend the search for a new district leader is being unnecessarily stalled.

Board member Robert Cermeli, a candidate for City Council, introduced the resolution at last Thursday’s meeting to offer Quinn a contract, which board members voted not to renew in December 1999 without providing any public explanation for their decision. Since then, Quinn has continued in his role under the title of acting superintendent in District 24, which has the most crowded schools in the city.

“You would think that the morale would be devastating” in light of such hardships as budget cuts and teacher flight to the suburbs, Cermeli said in a phone interview as he explained his support for the superintendent. “(Quinn) is going through these bad waters now in such a way as to minimize the impact that it’s having in our district.”

Cermeli’s resolution failed to be seconded by another member of the board, which immediately halted its discussion and prevented a vote.

“I was very disappointed,” Cermeli said. “People came out wanting to speak on it.”

Linda Sansivieri, a fellow board member who is also running for City Council, said she was surprised by the resolution because the five members who voted against renewing Quinn’s contract in 1999 remain on the board and are unlikely to change their vote.

“What most board members thought at this point is, ‘Let’s finish it,’” Sansivieri said. “I don’t think we can rescind it, because we’re in the middle of the process already.”

The board’s 1999 decision not to renew Quinn’s contract stirred controversy in a district where the superintendent enjoyed a wide base of parental support. Following the vote not to renew his contract, the PTA presidents’ panel sent a letter to the school board withdrawing the welcome mat from the schools for its meetings, forcing the board to move the meetings to the district office in Glendale,

Sansivieri said the process of interviewing for a new superintendent has been stalled twice by grievances brought against the board by representatives of two community-based organizations that had wanted to join the C37 committee, which screens superintendent applicants and presents finalists to the board.

“Every time we get to first base with it, we’re thrown back and start over again,” Sansivieri said, accusing the chancellor’s office of stalling the process in its review of the grievances.

The board, which includes the communities of Glendale, Ridgewood, Middle Village and Maspeth, has been attempting to begin the C37 search process for over a year.

The chancellor’s office could not be reached for comment.

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.