A month after taking over a Department of Education hemorrhaging its leadership, Chancellor Dennis Walcott today announced a slew of high-level appointments.
For two deputy chancellor slots, Walcott turned to veteran educators who made their careers in the city schools.
David Weiner, a one-time city principal who is currently Philadelphia’s chief accountability officer, will become deputy chancellor for talent, labor, and innovation. In that position, he will manage hot-button issues including labor relations and the city’s Innovation Zone of schools experimenting with technology. The founding principal of PS 503 in Brooklyn, Weiner succeeds John White, who took over the Recovery School District in New Orleans at the beginning of May.
A 30-year veteran of the city school system, Dorita Gibson will take on a newly created position, deputy chancellor for equity and access. She will supervise District 79, the network of alternative schools previously headed by Cami Anderson, who was named Newark’s next schools chief last week. District 79 will still get a new superintendent, according to DOE spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz.
Gibson will also lead initiatives that “focus on ending long-standing racial, ethnic and socioeconomic disparities and directing supports to communities most in need,” according to the city’s press release. Some of those initiatives previously fell under the purview of Santiago Taveras, the deputy chancellor for engagement who departed for the private sector earlier this year.
The appointments signal that Walcott is moving to stabilize the department, which has experienced rapid leadership change at the top since ex-Chancellor Joel Klein left at the end of last year. They also confirm Walcott’s intention to continue policies established during Klein’s tenure while also asserting new priorities.
“[Walcott] feels strongly that issues around equity and access deserve serious attention and wanted to create a cabinet-level position that would focus on that work,” Ravitz said.
Walcott also announced that he promoted Donald Conyers to replace Gibson and Courtenaye Jackson-Chase within the department’s legal division.
CHANCELLOR WALCOTT APPOINTS DAVID A. WEINER AS DEPUTY CHANCELLOR FOR TALENT, LABOR AND INNOVATION AND DR. DORITA P. GIBSON AS DEPUTY CHANCELLOR FOR EQUITY AND ACCESS
Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott today announced the appointments of David A. Weiner as the Department of Education’s Deputy Chancellor for Talent, Labor and Innovation, and Dr. Dorita P. Gibson as Deputy Chancellor for Equity and Access. Mr. Weiner will oversee all policies concerning teacher effectiveness and recruitment, innovation in the classroom, labor relations and human resources. Mr. Weiner most recently served as Chief Academic Officer and Associate Superintendent of Academics for the School District of Philadelphia. He served as a principal in Brooklyn from 2005 to 2008, founding P.S. 503 The School of Discovery in 2006 and leading P.S. 314 the year before. He has also worked as an elementary school teacher in Massachusetts and California and as a guest lecturer on education at various universities, including Columbia University’s Teachers College.
Dr. Gibson, who has served in the New York City school system for nearly 30 years, will continue the Department’s efforts to provide every family with equal opportunity and access to high-quality programs, with a focus on ending long-standing racial, ethnic and socioeconomic disparities and directing supports to communities most in need. Her portfolio will include District 79, a unique citywide network of over 300 alternative schools and programs serving over-age, under-credited youth whose schooling has been interrupted, as well as the Department’s initiatives to close the achievement gap and empower boys. Dr. Gibson served most recently as Senior Supervising Superintendent. Prior to that, Dr. Gibson served in multiple superintendent roles and as a principal, assistant principal and teacher for various public schools in Queens. She earned her Doctorate in Education from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education.
“The caliber of candidates we’ve seen is a testament to the fact that there is no more exciting place for education reform than New York City, and I’m absolutely thrilled that David and Dorita will be joining our team,” Chancellor Walcott said. “With David’s proven leadership and track record in urban education, he’ll be instrumental to our efforts to get the most effective teachers in front of every single classroom. Similarly, Dorita’s vast wealth of experience inside and outside our schools means she will be a champion for all of our families, leading our efforts to support our most vulnerable students.”
Chancellor Walcott also announced that Donald Conyers will succeed Dr. Gibson as Senior Supervising Superintendent for the Department. Mr. Conyers most recently served as a Cluster Leader, supporting more than two-hundred City public schools and creating professional learning opportunities to improve teacher practice and student achievement. Mr. Conyers has worked in New York City public schools since 1983, holding a range of teaching and leadership positions including special education elementary school teacher, Assistant Principal, Principal, Local Instructional Superintendent and Superintendent of Community School District 23.
Chancellor Walcott also announced the promotion of Courtenaye Jackson-Chase to Chief Deputy Counsel and Senior Advisor to the Chancellor for Compliance Strategies. Ms. Jackson-Chase will advise the Chancellor and the General Counsel on a broad range of compliance and regulatory issues. She currently serves as the Chief Deputy to the General Counsel, and is responsible for oversight of the general practice, commercial, disciplinary and special education legal units as well as the offices of special investigations and compliance services. Prior to joining the Department of Education, Ms. Jackson-Chase was the project director for the New York City Midtown Community Court, and served as an Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan from 1992 to 2004, where she handled homicides, sex crimes and major felony cases.
“I am very excited to be returning to New York City and working with Chancellor Walcott, whom I know is deeply committed to advancing reform and improving urban public education,” said David Weiner. “As a former principal and teacher, I believe there is no greater priority than getting a talented and effective teacher in front of every child, and I’m looking forward to building on the Department’s important work to support and develop our teaching workforce on behalf of the City’s 1.1 million children.”
“I am deeply gratified and excited to begin this new role and focus on expanding access and opportunities for all of New York City’s 1.1 million school children,” said Dr. Dorita Gibson. “Whether as a teacher, a principal or a superintendent, I have always tried to provide every student and every family I encounter with the best educational opportunities, support and guidance. I look forward to bringing those experiences to helping our underserved and underrepresented students most in need.”
Mr. Weiner will join the Department of Education on June 1, and Dr. Gibson will begin her new role effective immediately.