Chancellor Richard Carranza’s top deputy has gotten her two youngest children into two of the city’s most selective and desirable middle schools — in one case, after the application period had ended, The Post has learned.
Cheryl Watson Harris, a Boston school administrator who moved to Brooklyn in August 2015 after being hired by ex-Chancellor Carmen Fariña as a $138,000-a-year executive director of the borough’s field support center, was given a seat for her daughter at IS 187, the Christa McAuliffe School.
The girl entered in the 8th grade, although the grade 6-8 school normally accepts only incoming 6th graders.
It appears the Department of Education rolled out the red carpet for Watson-Harris.
“Moving into New York over the summer and trying to get a decent school for your child is nearly impossible, People get
assigned to the schools that nobody else wants,” an education advocate said.
Watson-Harris’ youngest child attends Mark Twain for the Gifted and Talented in Coney Island, a highly competitive and coveted school that chooses kids based on entrance exams and tryouts.
In what critics call hypocrisy, Carranza blasts such “screens” as racist, saying they result in segregation. Yet Carranza sent his own daughter to a selective school in San Francisco. Mayor de Blasio sent his two kids to screened middle schools in Brooklyn and elite high schools.
“Cheryl’s a New York City public-school parent who follows the rules and sends her kids to local public schools that meet their needs,” DOE spokesman Will Mantell said.
Carranza named Watson-Harris, who attended high school in NYC, his First Deputy Chancellor last July with a $196,500 salary. She did not respond to e-mails seeking an interview.
When she moved to NYC, the DOE granted Watson-Harris a “Placement Exception Request,” so that her daughter, who attended an honors program in Massachusetts, would not have to go to a zoned middle-school, officials said.
The Chancellor’s rules at the time state that such requests were “primarily to address a hardship issue.”
Mantell said some requests are granted for families new to town.
Students who apply to McAuliffe are ranked based on high state test scores, top 5th-grade performance, attendance and punctuality.
Principal Justin Berman would not discuss Watson-Harris, but told The Post, “Our school has absolutely nothing to do with the admission of any student. All of our admissions come through the Office of School Enrollment. We get a list of students who are coming here.”
Mark Twain uses exams or tryouts in 11 “talent areas” to rate students. Watson-Harris’ son was admitted for drama talent based on an audition, said a source familiar with the school. The judging is subjective.
Both McAuliffe and Twain are major ‘feeder schools” to the specialized highs such as Stuyvesant, Bronx Science and Brooklyn Tech where Carranza is seeking to abolish the admission test, or SHSAT.
Watson-Harris’ daughter, and oldest son attend Fort Hamilton HS, a zoned high school with selective honors and arts academies, in their Bay Ridge neighborhood.
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