Mayor de Blasio’s senior education adviser is stepping down

First Lady Chirlane McCray and Brandon Cardet-Hernandez, a senior education advisor to the mayor.
First Lady Chirlane McCray and Brandon Cardet-Hernandez, a senior education advisor to the mayor. Cardet-Hernandez is stepping down from his role. (Courtesy of the New York City Mayor’s Office)

A senior education adviser to Mayor Bill de Blasio is stepping down from his post, Chalkbeat has learned.

Brandon Cardet-Hernandez, who has been involved in the city’s efforts to reopen public school buildings and is responsible for key elements of the mayor’s education agenda, has accepted a position as the executive director of The Ivy Street School near Boston, which serves students with disabilities.

Cardet-Hernandez’s departure comes at a challenging moment for the nation’s largest school system, which shut down all of its school buildings on Thursday amid a rise in coronavirus cases and is scrambling once again to figure out how to reopen them.

His move follows a flurry of other departing top education officials, including the education department’s chief operating officer, a senior adviser to schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, and the education department’s second in command.

An official familiar with some of those departures previously told Chalkbeat that frustration with the mayor’s handling of the reopening process was a factor. Another reason senior education staffers are looking for other jobs: De Blasio is term-limited, and whoever is elected next year to succeed him will likely replace many senior education officials.

Cardet-Hernandez confirmed his plans to leave, though he has not settled on a final day in his current role. He was not dissatisfied with the mayor’s leadership, he added.

“It’s a natural time for a transition,” he said. “It’s been an honor to serve this administration and the students and parents of New York City and I’m excited to get back to more direct service work with students.”

Cardet-Hernandez has been a liaison between City Hall and the education department, overseeing a sprawling education portfolio. He was involved in the city’s efforts to expand training on restorative justice and social-emotional learning, including elements of First Lady Chirlane McCray’s Thrive NYC program, which has invested heavily in mental health initiatives but has also been criticized for having unclear metrics for success.

Cardet-Hernandez was also involved in the push last year to change the rules that govern how police operate in schools, including an effort to limit student arrests for low-level offenses.

“Brandon has been a valued member of the City Hall team,” de Blasio said in a statement. “He has helped steer our schools through the unimaginable — all with intelligence, compassion, and humility. There are few people as dedicated to our public school students, and he will be missed.”

Cardet-Hernandez’s career at the city’s education department began in 2007 as a special education teacher followed by a stint in a policy role overseeing struggling schools. He then served as the widely-respected principal of the Urban Assembly Bronx Academy of Letters, a 6-12 school, before becoming an education adviser to de Blasio.

During his time as principal, a small group of students launched what is now known as IntegrateNYC, which has blossomed into a broader youth-led effort to push for school integration.

Now he’s looking forward to getting back to his roots as an educator, Cardet-Hernandez said. The Ivy School serves students with neurological impairments, brain injuries, autism, and behavior issues and also works with school districts to help students in their transition to adulthood.

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