NYC Schools Chancellor Carranza resigns after 3 years; Bronx superintendent Porter takes his place

Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza speaks at a news conference at the Office of Emergency Management about the Coronavirus, March 2, 2020.
Photo by Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

After three years at the helm of the nation’s largest public schools system, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced Friday that he will be resigning in mid-March, citing the personal toll of the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for his departure.

Meisha Ross Porter, Bronx executive superintendent, will succeed Carranza, becoming the first Black woman to hold the chancellor’s office.

“This is a bittersweet moment for me,” said Carranza. “I came to New York City three years ago with a mission to help the Department of Education reach its full potential and of course  to serve and lift up all, not just some, but all of our public school children.” 

Carranza fought back tears as he revealed that he has lost 11 family members and close childhood friends to the virus during the pandemic and needs to take time to properly grieve. 

“I know the pandemic has not been easy for you or for any New Yorker and make no mistake, I am a New Yorker not by birth by but choice, a New Yorker who has lost 11 family and close childhood friends to the pandemic,” he said. 

The chancellor said he felt comfortable finally taking time to process the impact the virus has taken on his family now that officials have “stabilized” the public school system which has faced multiple setbacks since schools shuttered last March. 

Porter, a native of Jamaica, Queens, said that she would do everything to reopen open all schools adding the city is “ready to go” on reopening high schools for students enrolled in blended learning. After de Blasio delayed the start of the school year twice, public schools reopened for students enrolled in the city’s hybrid learning model last fall only to be shuttered again two months later amid a surge in COVID cases in the city. 

The city’s youngest learners and elementary school students enrolled in blended learning returned to classrooms late last year due to a general consensus that younger children are less likely to spread the virus than older ones. Middle school students returned to classrooms earlier this week but the future of high schools is still unknown.  Mayor de Blasio has repeatedly said he wants to reopen all schools by the start of September and recently promised to provide New Yorkers with an update on high schools “in the next few weeks.” 

“We’ll expand learning opportunities and do more to address trauma and academic needs because we know that that is very real,” said Porter “This moment is not about what the school system will do alone it is about what New York City will do together to invest in our children.

As Carranza stressed that the impetus for his sudden departure was the virus, reporting from The New York Times suggests that arguments between the chancellor and the mayor over desegregating public schools–specifically one explosive argument earlier this month over the city’s gifted and talented program–are the real reason behind his resignation. 

“Richard Carranza was a real partner in our efforts to open school safely. Too often he had to fight behind the scenes to keep the needs of students, staff, and their families ahead of politics. We wish him well. He will be missed,” wrote President of the United Federation of Teachers Michael Mulgrew, further suggesting Carranza’s departure is due to long-standing arguments with the mayor. 

Carranza is stepping down with four months left in the 2020-21 school year and 10 months left of de Blasio’s time in office. When asked by reporters whether his resignation is due to frequent clashes with the mayor, Carranza stated that he was proud of the work he and the mayor had accomplished over the last three years. 

“Policies are never made in a perfect four-corner box where everybody says yes this is a piece of cake and I’m going to love it,” Carranza told reporters. “What I have appreciated about this mayor is that he has allowed all of us at the table to have views and to argue those views and to advocate those views and come to a consensus.” 

It is unclear what Carranza’s next steps will be.