N.Y. mayor's support goes to Conn. educator

August 21, 1993|By Gary Gately | Gary Gately,Staff Writer The New York Times contributed to this article.

New York Mayor David N. Dinkins threw his support yesterday behind a former Connecticut education commissioner in an eight-candidate race for the city's top schools post that includes Baltimore Superintendent Walter G. Amprey.

The mayor's support, included in a letter to the president of the seven-member school board, has no official bearing on the choice, which is left solely to the board.

Mayor Dinkins praised the "excellent qualifications" and "abundant experience in education" of Gerald N. Tirozzi, who served as Connecticut's education commissioner from 1983 until 1991 before becoming president of Wheelock College in Boston.

Some board members reportedly wanted a minority candidate to take the chancellor's post in a city where more than 80 percent of the 1 million public school students are minorities.

But Mr. Dinkins wrote: "I must stress again, as I have in the past, that the race or ethnicity of a candidate should never be a consideration in the selection of a new chancellor. Our obligation to the children of this city is to select the very best chancellor we can."

Dr. Amprey, who is to travel to New York for a formal interview with the board Tuesday, said last night that he did not think the mayor's support of another candidate would hurt his chances.

"I'm not concerned with that at all," he said. "I don't view this as any kind of personal rejection either. And I've not approached this in any kind of competitive way."

After news of his impending interview surfaced yesterday, Dr. Amprey said he received dozens of pleas from civic leaders and others urging him to stay in Baltimore.

"There's been a tremendous amount of outcry from people for me to abandon this," he said. "I have to do some soul-searching this weekend," he said, but added that he plans to proceed with plans to interview with the board.

The New York board is to conduct two-hour interviews with each of the candidates and hopes to select a new chancellor before school starts Sept. 9, said Dennis M. Walcott, one of the board's seven members.

The board is seeking a replacement for former Chancellor Joseph A. Fernandez, whose contract expired June 30. He angered opponents with his support for condom distribution in the schools, AIDS education and a sex education curriculum that included teaching about homosexuality. An acting chancellor now presides over the district.

It remained unclear yesterday whether any of the board's four-member majority, which voted in February to oust Mr. Fernandez, would support the mayor's choice.

One board member, Ninfa Segara of the Bronx, criticized Mr. Dinkins' support as premature and disruptive of a carefully planned process.

The other candidates are Ramon C. Cortines, a former superintendent in San Francisco; Daniel A. Domenech, the superintendent of the South Huntington Union Free School District on Long Island; Donald W. Ingwerson, former superintendent of the Jefferson County schools in Louisville; John Murphy, superintendent in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools in North Carolina; Franklin L. Smith, superintendent in Washington; and Marcelino Rodriguez, superintendent of School District 4 in Manhattan.

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