NEW YORK CITY — New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced Friday he will be stepping down from the position, citing the coronavirus pandemic’s personal toll on his family.
“This is a very bittersweet moment for me,” Carranza said at a briefing with Mayor Bill de Blasio, citing the coronavirus pandemic’s personal toll on his family.
“I came to New York City three years ago with a mission: To help the Department of Education reach its full potential, and of course, to serve and to lift up all, not just some, all of our public school children,” Carranza said.
A visibly emotional Carranza said he will be taking time to grieve loved ones he’s lost to COVID-19 and spend time with his family.
“I know the pandemic has not been easy for you or for any New Yorker,” Carranza said. “And make no mistake, I am a New Yorker — well not by birth, but by choice — a New Yorker who has lost 11 family and close childhood friends to this pandemic. And a New Yorker who, quite frankly, needs to take time to grieve.”
He added that he felt the city’s public school system, with around 1 million students, was stable enough to handle a leadership change.
Carranza said he will transition out of the role in March.
The mayor announced that the post will be filled by Bronx Executive Superintendent Meisha Ross Porter.
“I can’t think of anyone who would be better to lead this work and take up this mantle and serve New York City’s children as the next New York City schools chancellor,” Carranza said of Porter.
Porter will make history as the first Black woman to run the nation’s largest public school district.
“I want to thank the mayor and chancellor for seeing me, and I want to promise to all of the New York City families, students, educators that I will see you in the same way folks have seen me,” Porter said Friday.
The Bronx educator said her focus would be on reopening the city’s high schools this year, and how the city can reopen all schools in September for the next school year.
“We’re going to build up communities together and we’re going to bring people together to serve our students,” Porter said.
Carranza was appointed as schools chancellor in 2018 after Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first choice turned down the position.
The announcement comes after Carranza and de Blasio have faced harsh criticism from teachers and principals unions, parents and educators over the reopening of school buildings, which was delayed twice.
Back in September, the Executive Board of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, which represents over 6,400 New York City school leaders, unanimously declared a vote of “no confidence” and called on the mayor to relinquish control of public schools and seek assistance from the state.
Schools were first closed mid-March with students transitioning to a remote learning program for the remainder of that school year.
When the new school year started i September, families in New York City’s public school system were given the choice of all-remote learning or a hybrid system with students in their classrooms part time.
But then in November, rising COVID-19 cases across the city prompted de Blasio to close all school buildings.
Since then, New York’s pre-K, elementary and middle schools have been allowed to reopen their doors to those students whose families chose the hybrid program in the fall, while public high schools have remained closed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.