NYC chief of student enrollment ousted in wake of DOE misconduct probe

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By Dan Sears

The city Department of Education’s chief enrollment  officer has been removed from her job – eight months after a hushed-up investigation substantiated misconduct charges against her, The Post has learned.

Sarah Kleinhandler failed to supervise a top deputy, Amanda Lurie, “who committed time theft and fraud,” the DOE’s Office of Special Investigations charged March 13 in an internal report.

After six years overseeing the placement of students in NYC public schools, Kleinhandler “will be moving on to a position as an executive director within our division where she will work on virtual learning and other projects,” First Deputy Chancellor Daniel Weisberg, her direct supervisor, said in an email to DOE staffers Thursday

The move comes after Weisberg raised Kleinhandler’s salary from $204,106 to $220,000 last December as OSI completed its probe. He then sat on the report for months until the investigator who conducted the probe, Jonathan May, described his findings in The Post. May said he feared a cover-up.

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“This is a public relations maneuver,” a DOE source who is close to the matter called Kleinhandler’s ouster. “How is it a demotion when this senior bureaucrat is still making a bloated salary?”

First Deputy Chancellor Daniel Weisberg is accused of covering for Kleinhandler.
Twitter @DanWeisbergNYC

“He’s still covering for her,” the insider said of Weisberg.

Kleinhandler quietly packed up her desk and left DOE headquarters in Tweed on Wednesday. She will report to Sara Kaufman, another top executive under Weisberg — and work remotely, staffers said.

DOE spokesman Nathaniel Styer refused to discuss Kleinhandler’s departure, new duties, or salary.

“We do not comment on personnel moves,” he said.

The OSI report, obtained under the Freedom of Information Law,  found that Kleinhandler had ignored complaints from colleagues that Lurie rarely visited the Family Welcome Centers under her supervision, was often hard to locate, and sold clothes on Poshmark as “Lily Ledbetter” during DOE hours.

Amanda Lurie is accused of time theft and fraud, when she allegedly sold clothes on Poshmark instead of executing her duties.
Linkedin Amanda Lurie

“I am very aware of everything, I really am. I’m constantly reminding her,” Kleinhandler told a co-worker who raised concerns about Lurie’s whereabouts, records show.

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When interviewed by OSI, however, Kleinhandler “contended that no one ever told her that Ms. Lurie was not working scheduled hours,” the report says.

Instead of disciplining Lurie after receiving the OSI report, Weisberg named her a “senior advisor” in his office weeks later. Lurie then received a pay hike from $199,118 to $208,000 a year. 

Weisberg gave both Lurie and Kleinhandler significant pay raises in spite of the investigations.

In August, after The Post revealed the pay hikes and OSI findings, the DOE terminated Lurie. She declined to comment, but on social media has blasted the DOE as unfair and threatened to sue.

The Special Commissioner of Investigation for city schools continues to look into a complaint that Kleinhandler, Lurie and first deputy Trevonda Kelly retaliated against a staffer who cooperated in the OSI probe.

Weisberg appointed Kelly to serve as interim chief enrollment officer “while we conduct a formal search process to permanently fill the position.”

Kleinhandler did not reply to a request for comment.

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