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MaryEllen Elia about to become New York state’s new education chancellor

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

It looks like MaryEllen Elia is going to land on her feet after all.

The recently ousted Hillsborough County school superintendent is about to be named New York’s next education commissioner, according to the Buffalo News. The website reports that the State Board of Regents in New York is preparing to appoint Elia, who hails from nearby Lewiston, N.Y., as its state education chief.

The 17 regents were informed over the weekend to report to Albany today for a special meeting to interview Elia and then vote on her appointment.

The 66-year-old Elia was fired in a controversial 4-3 vote by the Hillsborough County School Board in January after nearly a decade on the job, after complaints that she had grown imperious and cultivated an intimidating workplace. She was also criticized for not paying sufficient attention to issues affecting black and Latino children, including the disproportionate number of black students receiving suspensions.

Elia received a $1.1 million buyout in salary, benefits and unused vacation and sick time time for the remaining 2 1⁄2 years on her contract.

Her firing was extremely unpopular in the Tampa Bay area, with officials like Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn denouncing the school board members who voted to terminate her contract.

The day after her ouster, Elia told reporters that she wasn’t prepared at all to retire. “I’m looking at the next thing in my career,” she said. “Some people say I may be ready to retire. That’s absolutely untrue.”

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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