State Grants Waiver for Schools Chancellor

Cathleen P. Black, the publishing executive picked by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to be the next schools chancellor, cleared a final hurdle on Monday as the state granted her the waiver she needs to take office.

In a 12-page decision, the state education commissioner, David M. Steiner, said that Ms. Black’s inexperience in education would be offset by the appointment of a chief academic officer to serve by her side.

The city agreed to create that position on Friday after Dr. Steiner expressed serious doubts about Ms. Black’s readiness for the job.

“Despite her lack of direct experience in education, I find that Ms. Black’s exceptional record of successfully leading complex organizations and achievement of excellence in her endeavors warrant certification,” Dr. Steiner wrote in his decision.

Ms. Black, the chairwoman of Hearst Magazines, needed a waiver to bypass a 73-year-old state law that requires the New York City schools chancellor to hold education credentials. She has spent her career in the media industry and holds no advanced degrees.

But even with the endorsement of Dr. Steiner, Ms. Black will have to work to win over skeptics when she takes office on Jan. 1. Parents, teachers and lawmakers protested her appointment over the weekend and vowed to challenge Dr. Steiner’s decision in court.

State Assemblyman Hakeem S. Jeffries, a Democrat and critic of Ms. Black’s appointment, reiterated his intent Monday to pursue a legal case to block her from taking office. “Our schools deserve a qualified chancellor, not someone who requires a private tutor on the public payroll to make up for her deficient résumé,” he said in a statement.

City officials hoped to soothe some of that anger with the addition of a chief academic officer. Ms. Black will appoint Shael Polakow-Suransky, a former principal of a Bronx high school and a deputy chancellor at the city’s Department of Education, to fill that role.

Mr. Bloomberg has promised to give Mr. Polakow-Suransky, who will oversee curriculum and testing, the “broadest scope” of independence. But on Monday, the mayor reiterated Ms. Black’s primacy.

“There will be one person in charge,” Mr. Bloomberg told reporters in Brooklyn. “Make no mistake about that.”

Later in the day, Mr. Bloomberg praised Dr. Steiner’s decision. “It is now time to put politics aside and recognize that it is in the best interest of our children for Cathie Black to succeed as chancellor,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement.

Ms. Black, 66, will be the first woman to lead the city’s school system, which serves 1.1 million children and employs 135,000 people. “I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get going,” she said in a statement Monday night.

Cathleen-Black-Waiver-Decision

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