Santiago Taveras, public face of DOE, leaving for private sector

The city’s first-ever community engagement czar is the latest in a string of high-level departures from the Department of Education since the departure of Chancellor Joel Klein.

Santiago Taveras, deputy chancellor for community engagement, is leaving the department to become a vice president at Cambridge Education, the consulting firm that originally conducted quality reviews in city schools. Taveras is the third member of the chancellor’s leadership team to resign since Cathie Black replaced Klein in November.

Taveras, who worked for the city schools for 22 years, was deputy chancellor for teaching and learning from May 2009 until April 2010, when the DOE eliminated its teaching and learning division. He then became the city’s first community engagement chief, managing the way the department explained proposals for policy changes, such as school closures, to the public. In recent months, he had become the voice of the department at public meetings, sometimes staying long after other officials to take questions and speak with parents and school leaders.

A former principal, Taveras was one of the aides Eric Nadelstern name-checked as someone trained to pick up the slack after the former chief schools officer resigned in January. In addition to Nadelstern, whose position was eliminated after he left, the department also replaced finance director Photeine Anagnastopoulos, who quit the day after Klein announced his departure. The department is looking for a replacement for Taveras, according to the city’s press release.

Here’s the city’s press release:

CHANCELLOR BLACK ANNOUNCES DEPARTURE OF DEPUTY CHANCELLOR SANTIAGO TAVERAS Schools Chancellor Cathie Black today announced the departure of Santiago Taveras, Deputy Chancellor for Community Engagement, after nearly 22 years working on behalf of New York City’s public school children. Prior to serving as Deputy Chancellor for Community Engagement, Mr. Taveras oversaw the Division of Teaching and Learning, and served as the Senior Supervising Superintendent of all boroughs. He also developed and implemented the Quality Review process for the City’s schools, which provides a detailed assessment of a school’s learning environment and culture. “Over his years at the Department, Santi has worked passionately to foster more honest and productive conversations between school communities and education stakeholders, and to confront some of our most challenging issues, like the achievement gap,” Chancellor Cathie Black said. “As a former Principal and Superintendent, he always made sure the voices of our school leaders were represented in policy debates. We will miss his kindness and dedication, and wish him all the best in his new position.” Mr. Taveras is leaving the Department to become Vice President for District Reform at Cambridge Education, a global education business that partners with schools in 22 states and in education systems in over 40 countries around the world. “After nearly 22 years of service for New York City public schools, I am proud of the work I have led to better the lives of thousands of children,” Deputy Chancellor Taveras said. “Whether it was in my early days teaching or as Founding Principal at both Banana Kelly High School and Urban Assembly Academy for Careers in Sports, my focus has always been developing strategic community partnerships and teams of committed educators to positively affect student outcomes and help close the achievement gap. There is so much progress that we can make when educators are sharing instructional best practices, and I look forward to scaling that work in school districts nationwide in my new role at Cambridge Education. I hope our paths will cross again in our continued fight to put children first.” Mr. Taveras began his career as a teacher at Central Park East I Elementary School and Central Park East Secondary School. In his role as Local Instructional Superintendent in Region 9, he supported and supervised schools and coordinated summer school for all high schools in the region. Mr. Taveras is a proud product of New York City’s public school system. He was born and raised in the South Bronx, and graduated from John F. Kennedy High School before going on to receive his Bachelor of Science and Masters Degree in Education from The City College of New York. A search for Mr. Taveras’ replacement is already underway.