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Bungled rollout for NYC schools chief a setback for de Blasio

HELP WANTED: Take on a high-profile role as chancellor of New York City schools.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio arrives

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio arrives at City Hall hours after Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho announced abruptly that he will not accept Mayor Bill de Blasio's offer to run the New York City school system. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

HELP WANTED: A bold individual to take on a high-profile role as chancellor of New York City schools. Potential for enormous impact and national prominence. Salary: Inquire within, and we won’t be stingy.

These were the lavish terms Alberto Carvalho reneged on Thursday after a bizarre spectacle in which the Miami-Dade County schools superintendent went back on his word to Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City of New York.

NYC has been searching for a successor for retiring Chancellor Carmen Fariña, and it seemed as if the city had found a match. Carvalho is a rising star in education, an immigrant from Portugal who speaks multiple languages and rose from homelessness in the United States. In a statement Wednesday, de Blasio called him a “world-class educator with an unmatched track record of success.”

But by Thursday, after waffling at a dramatic multi-hour televised board meeting in the Sunshine State, Carvalho called de Blasio and changed his mind.

“It’s really unusual,” de Blasio said with some understatement at a hastily arranged afternoon news conference Thursday. New York’s just not for everyone.

Clearly Carvalho, who has has national ambitions as big as de Blasio’s and has considered running for office in Florida, wasn’t the man for the job of leading an army of teachers in the care of more than 1 million New York students, the largest school system in the country.

Maybe he wanted to stay in Florida’s warmth or just got cold feet. His name had hardly floated out when reporters began digging into his promised $353,000 salary, more than $100,000 over Fariña’s. They also uncovered an old scandal in which Carvalho allegedly had an affair with a journalist who covered him.

The turnaround is an embarrassment for de Blasio, who has been very publicly spurned, resulting in the bungled roll-out of what should have been a careful and important appointment. NYC students deserve a chancellor with his or her priorities straight, plus a steady hand to implement a coherent philosophy and good management.

Better luck next time. Unfortunately, help still wanted.

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