Another high-ranking official tapped by Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza is stepping down from the education department.
Hydra Mendoza, who has served as a deputy chancellor for just over a year, is leaving her post to return to the San Francisco Bay Area. She said her decision to leave was “purely personal,” and that she wanted to be with her children on the West Coast, where her husband is pursuing a new job opportunity.
She, too, has a new position in California, but declined to disclose it ahead of her employer.
Her departure follows the abrupt resignation in July of Abram Jimenez, a former California assistant principal whom Carranza brought on to lead school improvement efforts, after questions were raised about his past and a possible conflict of interest. The education department said Jimenez wanted to be closer to his family.
Mendoza served as a liaison between families and the education department. During her short tenure in New York City, she earned praise from some parents who said she worked to involve them in decision-making processes, including the recent hiring of new executive superintendents, and tried to solve longstanding frustrations, such as lagtimes in getting reimbursed for work as parent leaders.
“From a perspective of parents trusting us, it’s a world of difference that Hydra has led,” Carranza said in an interview with Chalkbeat. “We’re working regularly with parents — not just telling parents, ‘This is what we’re doing.’”
Carranza, who previously served as superintendent of schools in San Francisco and was a colleague of Mendoza’s, hired her last August for the newly created role of deputy chancellor for community empowerment, partnerships, and communications. Since then, Mendoza helped lead parent forums in every borough, hired a new coordinator to listen to student input, and restructured the office that supports local Community Education Councils.
“She really started moving the DOE in the direction of really empowering parents and really being equal partners,” said Shino Tanikawa, a parent leader in Manhattan’s District 2, which includes the Upper East Side and Lower Manhattan.
Carranza told Chalkbeat he created Mendoza’s position after traveling across the city for a listening tour early in his tenure. Time and again, he said he heard deep mistrust from parents who felt the education department only feigned to listen to feedback.
To that end, Mendoza said her goal was “lifting up” parent voices, “and I think that’s what we’ve done.”
Mendoza’s last day is Sept. 18. Adrienne Austin will serve as acting deputy chancellor while a national search for a permanent replacement is underway. Austin currently serves as a chief operating officer to Mendoza, and has held numerous other leadership roles in the department.