Push is on for Nunery to replace Ackerman

Posted: September 22, 2011

Clarification: Mayor Nutter refuted information in thus story about his position on the future of Acting Superintendent Leroy Nunery. Nutter said that he supports Nunery in his current role and that he "encourages" Nunery to participate whenthe School Reform Commission launches a formal search process for the next superintendent.

WITH NO chairman and two of its five seats vacant, there's no telling when the School Reform Commission can begin a national search for the next superintendent.

But sources say there's a push among some outside political and education advocates to not only keep the search local, but to give the job to the acting superintendent, Leroy Nunery. The Nutter administration, however, doesn't appear to be on board with that decision, according to a source.

On the forefront of this mission to appoint Nunery is George Burrell, a former city councilman and adviser to former Mayor John Street.

In a letter sent to several pols yesterday, including Gov. Corbett, Mayor Nutter and state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, Burrell said the district has bought out the contracts of three superintendents appointed after national searches over the last decade.

"I just don't think that works," he said.

Burrell noted that Nunery - who's been on the job for roughly a month - was vetted in the last district search, which he lost to Arlene Ackerman.

He's local and has a reputation for "fiscal and organizational discipline," Burrell added.

Despite the push to give Nunery the job, concerns about his ties to Ackerman - run out of the city after a rocky, three-year tenure - casts a shadow.

For its part, the Nutter administration would like to move forward without members of Ackerman's former leadership team, according to a source.

Nutter appointed Rutgers University-Camden Chancellor Wendell Pritchett to the SRC this week, filling one of his two mayoral appointments. Both of his appointments, Chairman Robert Archie and Johnny Irizarry, resigned this week.

"I'm sure the mayor will talk to his appointee [Wendell Pritchett], and when a second [appointee] is selected, he will speak to that person about the all-important search for a superintendent," said mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald.

A spokesman for Pileggi said the SRC was capable of hiring a superintendent. Nunery declined to comment, said district spokesman Fernando Gallard. But in an interview with the Inquirer following Ackerman's departure last month, Nunery said he wanted the job permanently.

- Staff writer Jan Ransom

contributed to this report.

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