As New York City mayor-elect Bill De Blasio prepares to take office, his transition team has been hard at work identifying people to head up some of the city's most important agencies. When it comes to the city's public school system, the names of two D.C.-area officials have been floated as possible contenders.
According to The New York Times, De Blasio has reached out to Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Dr. Joshua Starr D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson as part of his search for a new leader of New York City's public school system:
In recent weeks, Mr. de Blasio and his team have reached out to Dr. Starr, the superintendent of the Montgomery County school district, and Kaya Henderson, chancellor of the Washington school system, say people close to Dr. Starr and Ms. Henderson. It was unclear whether the calls were to gauge their interest or to merely solicit advice.
Officials for Starr and Henderson have been similarly vague about talks with de Blasio.
Dana Tofig, spokesman for Dr. Starr, tried to tamp down any speculation, saying that a recent trip he made to Brooklyn with his family was unrelated to the ongoing transition in the city. "Him being in New York City for the holidays is normal," he said.
Tofig also said that Starr was focused on the Montgomery County school system's budget, which is due next week. "His attention is focused here," he said.
DCPS spokeswoman Melissa Salmanowitz said that Henderson spoke with De Blasio, but the content of the conversation remains between Henderson and the mayor-elect. Salmanowitz said that Henderson is currently traveling.
Both Starr and Henderson have led their respective school systems since 2011.
If either one was chosen for the top schools job in New York, it would be a homecoming of sorts: Starr started his career as a special education teacher in New York, while Henderson hails from just outside the city and started her own teaching career in the South Bronx.
De Blasio has said that a priority for his mayoralty will be to expand universal pre-kindergarten for four-year-olds. D.C. leads the nation in universal pre-K access, with 69 percent of three-year-olds and 92 percent of four-year-olds being enrolled in 2012.
Starr and Henderson aren't the first local officials rumored to have a shot at similar jobs in the Big Apple: in early November the New York Daily News reported that D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier was being considered for the same job at the New York Police Department. Later in the month, though, her name no longer appeared in press reports about the search for a new police commissioner.