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DOE Ousts Popular School Superintendent, Western Queens Officials and Parents Outraged

Dr. Philip Composto (Photo: NYC Kids Rise)

May 12, 2022 By Christian Murray (updated)

The Department of Education has dumped Dr. Philip Composto, the longtime superintendent of school district 30, and elected officials and parents are up in arms.

Several elected officials have penned a letter to Schools Chancellor David Banks and Mayor Eric Adams calling for Composto to be reinstated. An online petition was formed by parents today that has generated more than 1,750 signatures that is also calling for the DOE to reconsider its decision.

Parents and elected officials were stunned by his sudden firing giving his long service to district 30, which covers seven western Queens neighborhoods: Astoria, Corona, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Long Island City, Sunnyside and parts of Woodside.

“We were very disappointed to learn that the DOE has decided without explanation to not further retain Dr. Philip Composto as Superintendent of this district,” wrote State. Sen. Michael Gianaris, Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani and Council Member Tiffany Cabán in their letter to Banks and Adams.

The Queens officials only learned yesterday that Composto had been asked to step down. His last day in the position is June 30.

Meanwhile, parents and school officials throughout the district have taken to change.org to pledge their support for him.

“It appears that Dr. Composto has been unceremoniously let go, after 40 years of devoted service to D30,” reads the change.org petition. “Please sign this petition and write directly to Chancellor Banks (NYCChancellor@schools.nyc.gov; davidcbanks@schools.nyc.gov) and Deputy Chancellor Blackburn (dblackburn3@schools.nyc.gov) letting him know that the community was not consulted and we do not want to lose the best Superintendent in NYC.”

Composto has worked in education for more than 40 years, much of which has been spent in District 30, including as a teacher, school principal, trainer and various administrative posts.

Gianaris, who has been an elected official in western Queens since 2001, had nothing but praise for Composto.

“Dr. Composto is a capable administrator who has earned the respect of families, students, and the community for his engaging leadership,” Gianaris said. “He is the right person for that job, drawing on his years of experience and deep well of compassion for western Queens. I urge the city to keep him there so our schools can continue to grow and thrive.”

Mamdani, too, urged the city to keep Composto.

“In a district as diverse as ours, I have come to expect a broad spectrum of opinions when it comes to any one local issue,” Mamdani said. “Yet, with Dr. Composto, I hear the same thing from principals, teachers, parents, and students across Astoria: appreciation.”

Cabán said that Composto has earned the respect of the community and should not be forced to step down.

“Since news broke that he was asked to leave, there has been an outpouring of support from every corner of this district from parents, principals, school staff, labor leaders and community members,” Cabán said. “I stand with them in demanding that Dr. Composto be allowed to continue serving as our schools superintendent and urge the DOE to reconsider their hasty decision.”

The DOE issued a statement saying that it is the process of creating a new leadership team to oversee the city’s 32 school districts.

“45 superintendents will lead our schools this fall with significantly expanded responsibilities and accountability – tasked with improving academic achievement, real family and community engagement, and providing absolutely critical supports to schools,” the DOE said in a statement.

“As part of the first stage in this process, leadership put 130 potential candidates through a rigorous interview process and advanced the two or three best candidates for each district that fit this reimagined role. We are proud that we are putting the strongest candidates in front of parents and community members at public town halls and will receive their input on the final selection decisions.”

The DOE did not say why Composto was not deemed a top candidate.

School District 30 (CEC30)

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