Howard Friedman
PHOTO: Courtesy Department of Education
Howard Friedman

When New York City’s education department responds to a lawsuit challenging its handling of school violence, there will be a new name on the legal papers.

Howard Friedman, who has worked for the city’s law department for nearly two decades, will become the Department of Education’s general counsel next month. Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced the appointment in a statement that heralded Friedman’s “dedication, passion, and innovative thinking.”

The top legal slot had been open since Courtenaye Jackson-Chase left for the Children’s Aid Society in February after a decade at the department. With her predecessor, Jackson-Chase tackled efforts to close the “rubber room” for teachers who were removed from the classroom after being accused of misconduct and to streamline disciplinary hearings for department employees. As those issues dropped from the department’s public priorities under the de Blasio administration, Jackson-Chase reviewed the department’s Respect for All anti-bullying policy.

Friedman arrives as the department faces a full slate of legal issues. They include how to allow schools to bend city rules to promote racial integration and to how to respond to the school safety lawsuit, which critics of the de Blasio administration filed this spring.

Here’s the city’s complete press release about Friedman’s appointment:

CHANCELLOR FARIÑA ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENT OF HOWARD FRIEDMAN AS GENERAL COUNSEL

NEW YORK – Chancellor Carmen Fariña today announced the appointment of Howard Friedman as General Counsel. In his new role, Friedman will serve as the chief legal advisor for the DOE, where he will focus on the development and implementation of new initiatives and the revision of existing education policy. Friedman will also provide counsel to the Chancellor on the legal aspects of policy and administrative matters.

Prior to joining the DOE, Friedman served as the Chief of the Contracts and Real Estate Division of the New York City Law Department, where he counseled City agencies and the Mayor’s Office on transactional matters and special projects. Friedman joined the Contracts and Real Estate Division in 1998, became Deputy Chief of the Division in 2004, and was promoted to Chief last year.

“Howard has demonstrated a remarkable commitment to serving our city and we are very excited to have someone with his talent and experience join our team,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “I know that Howard will continue to bring an extraordinary level of dedication, passion and innovative thinking to his new role serving our city’s 1.1 million students, families and school staff.”

“It is an honor to join the Department of Education and to be a part of the incredible work it’s doing on behalf of our city’s families,” said Howard Friedman. “I’ve had the privilege of serving the City of New York and its residents for the past 20 years, and I look forward to helping this department build on the progress it has made delivering a high-quality education to every student.”

“The qualities that make Howard eminently qualified to lead the legal division of the City’s largest operation are the qualities we will miss most at the Law Department – his incomparable knowledge of the law, his ability to solve practical problems, and his steadiness under pressure,” said Corporation Counsel Zachary W. Carter.

“From his time as a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society, to his nearly two decades with the New York City Law Department, Howard has proven himself a tough and dedicated public servant,” said Ursulina Ramirez, Chief Operating Officer for the Department of Education. “We are very fortunate to have him join the department, where I know he will become a champion for our city’s public school students and families.”

Prior to joining the New York City Law Department, Friedman worked, among other things, as a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society, where he first worked in the Criminal Appeals Bureau, and then in the Civil Division serving the Harlem neighborhood. He is a 1985 cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School. Friedman will join the DOE on July 5.