New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza made his first major appointment on Wednesday, naming Edie Sharp as his chief of staff.
Sharp, who will earn $165,000 in her new role, has been at Mayor Bill de Blasio’s side since he served as public advocate. She joined him at City Hall as a senior policy advisor under First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris, and moved to the education department in 2016 to serve as deputy chief of staff to former Chancellor Carmen Fariña.
Sharp’s ties to City Hall will likely raise eyebrows. Having a longtime staffer of de Blasio’s as a chief of staff suggests City Hall could keep a close eye on Carranza, who has appeared to veer off message about school segregation and whether schools should “screen” students based on academics since arriving in April from Houston, where he served as superintendent. And whether the chancellor would get to pick his own team was reportedly one of the factors that led to de Blasio’s original choice for the job to back out unexpectedly.
But Carranza pushed back on Wednesday, tweeting that “I make my own decisions.”
Absolutely no story here. I make my own decisions. My new Chief of Staff is an outstanding professional many CEOs would be proud to hire. Proud that I had the opportunity to hire her in this role. https://t.co/Hsj9TngRNU
— Chancellor Richard A. Carranza (@DOEChancellor) May 30, 2018
Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho was first in line for the chancellorship after Fariña stepped down last winter. But after initially accepting the position, according to city officials, Carvalho changed his mind in a dramatic meeting that was streamed live on television.
Carvalho later hinted that he feared he would be tied to the mayor’s personnel picks — something that didn’t sit well with a big-name schools chief who is used to calling his own shots.
“I am a true believer that if you want me to land the championship ring, if you want to win the Super Bowl, but I have a field that I’m not going to be able to necessarily pick my quarterback … that the plays will be called, co-consulted, then that may be a deal breaker for me,” Carvalho said at a public event, according to the Miami Herald.
De Blasio later faced questions about how much autonomy the new schools chief would have. At a press conference to announce that Carranza would be the next schools chief, de Blasio said “we do talk about senior personnel.” But he added that “ it would depend on the Chancellor or head of any agency to figure out the right team.”
In a statement, Carranza lauded Sharp’s experience in city government and called her a “tireless and fierce advocate for our public schools.”
“Edie has been a critical member of my transition team and ensured I was prepared to hit the ground running on day one,” he said.
Sharp succeeds Ursulina Ramirez, who will continue to serve as chief operating officer overseeing the mayor’s Equity and Excellence education initiatives.