Top Schools Veterans Quit After Black Assumes Chancellor Position

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Two top schools officials have resigned in the wake of Cathie Black's surprise appointment. Photeine Anagnostopoulos, deputy chancellor for finance and technology, and Elizabeth Sciabarra, who founded the Office of Student Enrollment, have left their posts earlier this week. Sources tell the Daily News that more departures are to be expected in the following months.

Black, who comes into the job as an educational neophyte, assumes the role amidst tepid reviews. Even City Councilmembers are hesitant to praise Mayor Bloomberg's surprise decision to promote a Hearst executive to the head of the school system. Christine Quinn only had this to say: "This is the mayor's choice, and the results are what people will be judged by, and the results are what will determine whether or not the city could have been better served."

Black herself was taken by surprise by the recent announcement. It was only a few weeks ago that the mayor called her, out of the blue, to discuss something. Black tells the Post's Cindy Adams:

Monday the mayor called...We know each other a long time. I didn't know what he wanted. He only told me this was a personal call and he wanted to meet. I couldn't exactly say, 'Sorry, Mr. Mayor, but I'm busy,' but the fact is I had back-to-back meetings at Hearst, so I said I couldn't today but could tomorrow.'

"He said, 'How's 7 a.m. tomorrow?' I said, 'Fine.' We met in his foundation offices. The offer came out of left field, and my stomach did a flip-flop. The opportunity made me feel fantastic. It's a great thing when, at a certain stage in life, you can be able to deal up . . . not down."

While Black's appointment is not finalized until David M. Steiner, the New York State education commissioner, signs off -- which some experts say won't be a smooth process -- the disclosure that Black wasn't truly vetted as a possible candidate for Chancellor, and the fact that the New York Times can't seem to find evidence that anyone else was even considered, has had critics reeling, and schools veterans exiting the stage.