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Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Tribute To the Late Deputy Chancellor, Kathleen Grimm

I was very fond of Kathleen Grimm. In the world where I have advocated for parents and teachers since 1999, I often had the opportunity to say what I thought of the NYC Department of Education. I haven't spent my 2 minutes in front of the Panel For Educational Policy praising the DOE, as most readers of my blogs - like this one - know.

Kathleen Grimm was on the PEP. She heard me. She also lived near me on the upper east side of Manhattan, and we often saw each other on the street, in nearby stores, etc.

Despite her job at the DOE and my finding lots wrong with the policies of the DOE and their implementation, Ms. Grimm always was friendly and respectful, as am I. But I admired her. She stood out from the crowd over there at Tweed, because of her quiet decency. I have been tortured by many who work for the DOE, and my children were all victims as well.

But Kathleen Grimm was different.

I will miss her.

Betsy Combier

Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm and General Counsel Courtenaye Jackson-Chase

New York Schools Veteran Kathleen Grimm Dies at 68

Battling cancer, she stepped down as deputy chancellor in January


Kathleen Grimm, who served as deputy to four chancellors of the New York City schools, died on Tuesday night of cancer, officials said Wednesday. She was 68 years old.
Ms. Grimm stepped down as deputy chancellor for operations last month after working in the city Department of Education since 2002. A tax lawyer, Ms. Grimm oversaw a $20.5 billion operating budget and a wide range of issues, including food services, school repairs, space planning and enrollment, and often represented the department at contentious City Council meetings.
Chancellor Carmen Fariña called her a “passionate champion for all of our students,” with a commitment to excellence, a droll sense of humor and respect for decorum. “Some of our more casually dressed colleagues will recall being exhorted to grab a tie from the collection she kept under her desk,” the chancellor wrote in a memo to staff.
Ms. Grimm started working for the city in 1985 and served as first deputy commissioner at the city Department of Finance. Later she became deputy comptroller at the office of State Comptroller H. Carl McCall.
When former Chancellor Joel Klein took charge of city schools in 2002, he recruited her to join his management team because he needed “an insider” who could help him navigate Albany and budgets, he said. Mr. Klein said Ms. Grimm had great managerial skills and equanimity when explaining the department to critics angry about everything from busing problems and food complaints to dirty rugs and insufficient toilet paper.
“I used to joke with her that it was time to go to City Council, get your flak jacket,” Mr. Klein said. Mr. Klein is now chief executive officer at Amplify, which, like The Wall Street Journal, is owned by News Corp .
Ms. Grimm had an “inverse ratio between ego and talent,” he said. Often with talented people, he said, “their ego can get in the way. She had none of that.”
Born in Troy, N.Y., Ms. Grimm attended parochial schools and helped build the education department’s relationship with the Archdiocese of New York, Ms. Fariña said. She was also a trustee at New York Law School and an adjunct professor, teaching a course in municipal finance.
Earlier in her career, she taught English briefly in Obregón, Sonora, Mexico. She had a bachelor’s degree from Manhattanville College and graduated from New York Law School, with a master’s degree from New York University School of Law.
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Ms. Grimm was smart and demanding. “She was never afraid to speak her mind—and always willing to stand up for our students,” he said in a statement. “She made everyone around her better, and she made our schools better, too.”
Write to Leslie Brody at