Department of Education Chancellor Richard Carranza is stepping down after three controversial years overseeing the nation’s largest school system, city officials said in a surprise announcement Friday.
His last day will be March 15 — and he will be replaced by current Bronx Executive Superintendent Meisha Ross-Porter, according to the DOE.
“It’s been an honor of a lifetime to serve as a chancellor and from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve your and my children,” Carranza said at a press briefing with Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Carranza, 54, grew emotional as he detailed the reason behind his sudden departure.
“Make no mistake, I am a New Yorker, while not by birth but by choice. A New Yorker who has lost —” he broke off, while fighting back tears,
After composing himself, he continued, “11 family and close childhood friends to this pandemic. And a New Yorker who quite frankly needs to take time to grieve. I feel that I can take that time now because of the place that we are in and the work that we have done together.”
Carranza touted some of the accomplishments under his administration.
“In the largest school system in America, we made true progress in dismantling structures and policies that are products of decades of entrenched racism,” he said. “Like suspending school screens and we finally brought mental health into the spotlight.”
De Blasio thanked Carranza for his service.
“I admire you for everything you’ve done and we thank you and were going to miss you,” Hizzoner said.
Ross-Porter will become the city’s first black woman to take the helm of the nation’s largest school district.
Carranza called his successor a “born and bred New Yorker who eats, drinks, sleeps and thinks all the time about New York and the children of New York.”
“I’m so proud that this mayor has chosen the first African American black chancellor to take the baton,” he said.
From the outset of his administration, Carranza pointedly elevated race as a focal point of his administration — a position that drew applause from some quarters but intense opposition from others.
The native of Arizona drew especially fierce opposition from Asian community groups who objected to diversity initiatives that would drastically slash their numbers at top city schools.
Carranza’s inaugural controversy arrived early in his administration when he retweeted a story about a group of Manhattan parents objecting to a policy shift.
“WATCH: Wealthy white Manhattan parents angrily rant against plan to bring more black kids to their schools,” the posting read.
The tweet was a harbinger of things to come for the remainder of Carranza’s time in New York.
The outspoken schools chief frequently clashed with parents at public meetings — and once abruptly left a chaotic Queens gathering during a heated exchange with a mother over school safety.
The DOE asserted Friday that Carranza advanced the nation’s largest school system and cited gains in graduation rates and other fundamental metrics as evidence.
But critics have long charged education officials with diluting academic standards in order to produce attractive statistics — an assertion that predates Carranza.
In announcing her appointment, DOE officials lauded Porter as an effective DOE veteran with experience at all levels of senior administration.
“As a lifelong New Yorker, a product of our City’s public schools, and a career educator, it is the honor of my lifetime to serve as Chancellor,” she said in a statement. “Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza have laid an incredible foundation for me and I am ready to hit the ground running and lead New York City schools to a full recovery.”
But Porter has also seen her share of controversies.
She raised eyebrows in 2019 after throwing herself a $45,000 bash to celebrate her promotion to a top position.
Wearing a tiara, Porter entered the packed ballroom in a glass elevator during event.
Carranza and Porter are expected to appear alongside de Blasio at 10 a.m. this morning for a press conference.