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Politics

Elected Officials, Families Call for Dr. Composto to Remain as Superintendent

ASTORIA – Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris, Assembly Members Zohran Mamdani, Cathy Nolan, and Brian Barnwell, Council Members Tiffany Cabán and Julie Won were joined by School District 30 families and community leaders to call on Mayor Eric Adams and Schools Chancellor David Banks to retain Dr. Philip Composto as Superintendent of School District 30. The western Queens community learned this week that Dr. Composto was asked by the Department of Education to leave his position without any public input or notice, or even a reason. The elected officials and community members held a press conference at Van Alst Playground outside PS 171 in Astoria on May 13.

Dr. Composto has successfully led District 30 – one of the most diverse school districts in the world – for the last 14 years and is a 40-plus year veteran of New York City schools, with much of that spent in western Queens. He has served as a teacher, trainer, principal and district administrator in various capacities. Additionally, he worked to implement a college tuition pilot program across District 30 before the program was expanded citywide by Mayor de Blasio and Mayor Adams.

“Dr. Composto being dismissed without explanation is unacceptable to the neighborhoods he’s faithfully served,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris. “I am calling on the Mayor and Chancellor to reverse this bad decision, which completely ignored the wishes of the community most affected by it.”

New York State Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris was among the elected officials and community members at the press conference calling on Mayor Eric Adams and the Department of Education to retain Dr. Philip Composto as Superintendent of District 30. Photo: Senator Michael Gianaris

Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani noted that “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. Yet, with Dr. Composto, I hear the same thing from principals, teachers, parents, and students across Astoria: appreciation. Dr. Composto has served our children in one capacity or another for 40 years. He has been a critical source of support for our entire district throughout the pandemic, not to mention the decades prior. And yet, Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks’ response to that has been to summarily inform him that his application to continue leading our district was not even worthy of consideration in their final round of interviews. Not only do I and countless other Astorians vehemently oppose this decision, we find the manner in which it was done to be truly disrespectful.  Dr. Composto often asks: ‘how does this benefit all of our children?’ This decision by Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks simply does not.”

Assembly Member Brian Barnwell said, “Dr. Composto is the type of leader our schools need and for him to be dismissed without cause or notice to the community is just wrong. The Mayor and DOE owe the people of western Queens an explanation and must right this wrong now.”

Assembly Member Cathy Nolan said, “I have worked with Dr. Composto for many years and have seen the impact of his service in schools throughout District 30. He has always worked tirelessly to connect with and uplift students, teachers, and school administrators and has created an environment of engagement that centers dignity and respect. Mayoral control was not meant to exclude the voices of parents and this situation is an example of how important authentic community engagement is to the success of our students.”

Council Member Tiffany Cabán said, “Dr. Composto is an incredible asset to the District 30 school community and his four decades of service to our children and families has not gone unnoticed. 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. I stand with them in demanding that Dr. Composto be allowed to continue serving as our schools Superintendent and urge the Department of Education to reconsider their hasty decision.”

Council Member Julie Won said: “The DOE can’t make massive decisions like firing a superintendent behind closed doors. The parents of District 30 deserve to be a part of processes that affect the lives of their children. Parents are integral in deciding what type of leadership will bring the best educational outcome for their children. They need to be able to weigh in before there is a decision to terminate a DOE leader. Excluding them entirely from the process is wrong.”

Esta Efstathiadis and Faridys Matias-Zambrana, Co-Presidents, The Parent Association of PS85Q said, “Dr. Composto is a trusted leader and a valuable member of our school community. He remains steadfast in his commitment to the success and well-being of all our children. We stand in solidarity with our parents, students and all District 30 stakeholders in support of him remaining as our Superintendent.”

Katina Despas-Barous, PTA President of I.S. 1410 The Steinway said: “Why should Dr. Composto remain at the helm of DC 30? Aside from his 4 decade long experience beginning at the entry level posts of our education system to now his role as Superintendent? Dr. Composto is devoted to maintaining and sustaining our educational integrity. He does this through the support of his teachers, but he also does this from what can only be characterized as his genuine devotion to the children of DC 30. He does not seek the spotlight. He does not tout his accolades, maybe he should have done that more often. But, there is simply no one better at managing people, programs, implementing new ones. He is the bastion of innovation through relentless encouragement of his administration. If it were not for that genuine love of DC30, the toll that this global pandemic took on our schools, and children both mentally and physically would have been tenfold. 141, along with dozens of our DC30 schools remain stunned that, at such an unsure time, at a time when we are still teasing ourselves out of the effects of this global misfortune, we would look to replace a stronghold, a security, a normalcy for our district. It is nonsensical.”

Video of the press conference is available on YouTube:

A petition, titled District 30 Supports Superintendent Composto, has also been started by concerned citizens, parents, and students in the district. All those interested in showing their support for Dr. Composto, may sign the petition online: https://bit.ly/39dHpOh.

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